Satara: After being on the run for a fortnight, noted Marathi author and Padma Shri awardee Laxman Mane, booked in half a dozen separate rape cases, on Monday surrendered before the police here in western Maharashtra. Mane, who has rejected sexual assault charges levelled against him, went to Satara tehsil police station at around 4.00 pm and was arrested.
"Mane surrendered in Satara rural police station. He has been arrested," Superintendent of Police KMM Prasanna told PTI this evening. The 63-year-old writer-cum social activist, a former member of Maharashtra Legislative Council, will be presented before a local court for remand tomorrow, Prasanna said.
Trouble for Mane started late last month when three married women, aged 30 to 35 and working as cooks at a residential school for tribal students at Jakatwadi near here, filed separate police complaints against him. Three more complaints were lodged later. Among the complainants are helpers, peons and cooks who were working in the school. Mane is the Working President of the organisation which runs Shardabai Ashram Shala, a school for underprivileged students.
They accused Mane of sexually exploiting them between 2003 and 2010 by threatening to transfer them or by promising to make them permanent employees of the school. Before surrendering today, Mane told his supporters that the charges against him were baseless and a conspiracy had been hatched to malign his image.
"I am a handicapped person and cannot write more than 2-3 pages at a stretch. The truth will come out before all of us. I am innocent and will help the police and court in this case," the Sahitya Akademi Award winner added. "Five years ago, I launched a social reform movement. Now there is a conspiracy to derail this movement and discredit me, and frame me in a false case," he said and demanded a CID probe into the entire episode.
After the complaints came to light, Mane filed anticipatory bail application which was rejected two days ago by the Satara district court.