Sep 24, 2017

Popular Indian guru arrested over alleged rape of law student

Alwar, a village in Rajasthan state
BBC NewsSeptember 23, 2017

A popular spiritual guru has been arrested in India for the alleged rape of a 21-year-old woman, Indian media report.

Falahari Maharaj is accused of raping the law student at his ashram in Alwar, a village in Rajasthan state.

The self-styled "godman" faces 10 years in prison if convicted.

Last month controversial Indian guru Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh was sentenced to 20 years in prison for raping two female followers.

Mr Maharaj was arrested on Saturday and taken to a hospital in Alwar to undergo a medical examination, police say.

The woman, who is studying law in Jaipur, filed a complaint on 11 September alleging the attack had taken place on 7 August.

Her report states that she visited Mr Maharaj's ashram in Alwar to donate money at her parents' request.

She was, she says, raped after she agreed to stay overnight at the property, the Hindu newspaper reports.

Mr Maharaj, she says, warned her against reporting the attack.

However, she adds, she gained the courage to approach the police after the conviction of Ram Rahim Singh, who was found guilty of raping two followers between 1999 and 2002 in northern Haryana state.

The sentencing of Ram Rahim Singh led to violent protests in north India and resulted in the deaths of 38 people and more than 2,000 arrests.

Mr Maharaj has a strong following both in India and abroad, including the alleged victim's family, who reportedly donated money to his ashram on several occasions in recent years.

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