Mumbai, Nov 23: He was moved by a woman’s plight and tried to save her by driving away the evil spirit. That was what a priest said after it was alleged that he had raped a woman near a temple in Dharavi on Tuesday night.
Shankar Trivandan, 55, who had been the chief priest of Bhadrakali Amman temple on the 90-foot road for the past 20 years, was arrested by police on Wednesday. He was produced in Kurla court, which remanded him in police custody till November 23.
Police said that the victim, Shilpa (name changed), 25, a mother of four children, had been complaining of acute headache, sleeplessness and weakness for the past three weeks. She confided to her husband, Mani, that the problems began ever since the priest performed a pooja in their neighbour’s house a month ago.
Mani took her to Trivandan, who was a popular figure in the area. Trivandan told them that he would perform a special pooja on Tuesday to drive away the evil spirit, which was ailing Shilpa.
The couple made arrangements for the pooja, but Mani could not attend it as he had urgent work at office. “Trivandan took advantage of Mani’s absence and allegedly raped Shilpa,” said Prakash George, senior inspector, Dharavi police station. He added that during interrogation Trivandan told the cops that he had done it to drive away the evil spirit.
“Shilpa was feeling dizzy after the pooja, and vomited a couple of time. An anxious Mani kept asking her what was wrong. It was then she told him about being raped by the priest,” said another cop. Police grilled the accused to find out if he had indulged in similar activities in the past.
Trivandan lived in Matunga with his family, but used to spend the nights in the temple. “We are also asking other women in the area about him. It might help us get an insight of his character,” added the officer.