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Last Updated: Friday, 26 November, 2004, 10:12 GMT
BJP demands transfer of seer case
Jayendra Saraswathi
Mr Saraswathi denies murdering a worker at the temple he heads
India's main opposition has demanded that the case of a Hindu seer facing murder charges be heard outside the southern state where he was arrested.

Bharatiya Janata Party president LK Advani said there was concern over the way Jayendra Saraswathi had been treated in Tamil Nadu.

Mr Saraswathi, who heads one of the five seats of Hinduism, denies murdering a worker at his temple.

A court on Friday remanded him in judicial custody until 10 December.

Mr Saraswathi's arrest this month outraged supporters. Some have launched hunger strikes and taken part in violent protests across the country.

Premier's letter

Mr Advani, speaking after a three-day national executive meeting of the BJP in the northern city of Ranchi, said transferring cases outside Tamil Nadu would ensure justice was delivered.

Saraswathi flanked by security guards at a magistrates' court in Kanchipuram

"I know it is for the judiciary to decide, but the way things have gone and the way the Shankacharya [Mr Saraswathi] was treated, the people and the nation were concerned. So it is proper to transfer all the cases outside Tamil Nadu."

The seer will appear in another court on Friday in Madras (Chennai) in connection with a second case in which he allegedly ordered an attack on a former devotee two years ago.

Concern over Mr Saraswathi's situation prompted Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday to write to Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J Jayalalitha asking her government to "take all such measures as appropriate to ensure the physical well being" of the cleric.

"An investigation involving a person of his eminence needs to be conducted with extreme care and consideration," a statement from the premier's office said.

Ms Jayalalitha wrote back on Friday, saying police had arrested the seer only after a careful and thorough investigation.

She said he was being treated with utmost dignity and consideration "befitting his religious status".

On Thursday the Supreme Court rejected a petition from the BJP seeking an investigation into the circumstances of the seer's arrest.

Senior party politician BP Singhal argued that police in Tamil Nadu had breached procedures while arresting Mr Saraswathi on 11 November.

But the Supreme Court judges said Mr Singhal had no right to call for such action.

Mr Saraswathi denies he had anything to do with the killing of former employee, Sankararaman, who was a strong critic of the religious leader.

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