Goa temple priest accused of molestation granted bail

Panaji: A court here on Saturday granted interim bail to a priest at the iconic Mangueshi temple who has been accused of allegedly molesting two women inside the temple premises.

District and Sessions Judge Bela Naik directed the police not to arrest the accused priest Dhananjay Bhave until the matter is heard again on Wednesday (July 25).

Bhave has been booked under section 354 (outraging modesty) of the Indian Penal Code for allegedly molesting two young women, including a student of medicine enrolled in a US college, who have accused him of allegedly hugging and kissing them inside the temple premise in June.A

Both complaints were submitted to the temple committee in June, but earlier this month the Shree Maguesh Temple committee in a reply to the victims, had said that it “could not lay hand on any dependable evidence to establish a prima facie case…,” urging the complainant to take up her grievance with an “appropriate authority”.

A formal FIR was filed by one of the victims at the Ponda police station in South Goa on July 19.

The Mangueshi temple, home to lord Manguesh who is considered to be an incarnation of lord Shiva, is one of the most visited temples in the state by tourists and locals alike. Several influential Gaud Saraswat Brahmin clans are followers of the deity.