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Image for illustrative purposes only. Image Credit: Antonin Kelian Kallouche /Gulf News archives

Dubai: An ascetic has been arrested in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, for allegedly sexually harassing 10 minor boys at his ashram. News reports about the incident sparked an outcry on Twitter, yesterday, leaving Indian tweeps shocked. Reportedly, the man gave the boys alcohol, and told them, it was a “coronavirus medicine” before sodomising them.

Allegedly the ascetic also forced the children, who were from northeast of India, watch porn videos.

It was only after a tipoff that Child Line officials got that the boys were rescued from the Godiya ashram in Muzaffarnagar, on Thursday. The person who informed the officials claimed that he was thrown out of the ashram after he raised an objection to the sexual abuse of the boys.

Reportedly, four of the rescued boys who were raped are between nine and 12 years of age, five are between 10 to 15 years of age, and one is 18 years old, said a police officer.

According to the cops, Bhakti Bhushan Govind Maharaj, owner of the Gaudiya Math (ashram), would not only sexually abuse the boys but also beat them up if they refused to follow his instructions. Police also arrested his disciple Akhilesh Das in connection with the case.

The boys had been brought to the ashram from Tripura and Mizoram on the pretext that they would be given an education. Medical examination of the rescued children confirmed that four of them had been subjected to sexual assault.

After he was rescued, one of the boys, 10, told the Child Welfare Committee (CWC): "Maharaj (master) would make us drink coronavirus medicine. Then he would get naked and lie down, show us dirty films and do bad things to us. "

Another 13-year-old boy rescued boy said that he was brought to the ashram by the cook working at the facility, he alleged that he was asked to massage the man and was asked to bring him alcohol.

According to a police official, Bhakti Bhushan and the cook have been charged under Section 377 (sexual activities against the order of nature), Section 323 (for voluntarily causing hurt and knowingly berating someone), and Section 504 (to deliberately humiliate the other person) of Indian Penal Code (IPC). In addition to this, he has also been charged under the relevant provisions of the Protection of the Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, and the Juvenile Justice Act.

And, the ashram that was operating since 2008 has now been sealed, according to news reports.