NEW DELHI – An Indian holyman castrated himself in an apparent protest against the arrest of a popular spiritual leader on sex charges, police said Thursday.
Baba Premdas, 60, was found bleeding late Wednesday in northern Uttar Pradesh state after severing his genitals in what reports said was a protest at last week’s arrest of Asaram Bapu, a self-styled Hindu holyman.
“Why he did it is not clear. Some say it was because of Bapu’s arrest, some say it was because he feared ending up in Bapu’s situation. No one knows,” said Alankrita Singh, chief of police of the city of Amethi.
Premdas has been transferred to hospital for plastic surgery and is in a stable condition, Amethi police official Mahendra Singh told AFP.
Police said the wounds appeared to be self-inflicted, but they planned to question Premdas.
Since Bapu’s arrest over accusations the 72-year-old sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl at a religious retreat, hundreds of his supporters have protested outside a jail where he is being held and blocked railway lines.
Bapu has dismissed the case against him as a political conspiracy.
For many Indians, self-styled holymen play an integral role in daily life, offering them a pathway to enlightenment in return for spiritual devotion and often hefty donations to their retreats and temples.