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Indian police arrest Buddhist monk for alleged sex abuse of 15 boys

New Delhi,   –    A Buddhist monk running a shelter and meditation centre in eastern India has been arrested for allegedly sexually abusing 15 children, who came there for training, police said on Thursday.

The 49-year-old monk, Bhante Sangh-Priya, was arrested on Wednesday in Bihar state’s Bodh Gaya region, which is regarded as one of Buddhism’s holiest sites.

The alleged crimes came to light after the children, who were brought to the centre from eastern India to be trained as monks, complained to their parents, Area Police Chief, Shiv Mahato, said.

“The children are between ages of 6 to 12 years. At least 15 of them have lodged complaints, there might be more.

“We are investigating the matter and are questioning more child monks,” Mahato said.

The police have registered a case against the monk under sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences and Juvenile Justice Act.

He was sent to jail pending the investigations.

Dozens of cases of the sexual abuse of children have been reported from two shelters in Bihar and neighbouring Uttar Pradesh in recent weeks.

Buddhism founder Gautama Buddha was believed to have attained enlightenment in the 6th century BC under a tree in the Bodh Gaya district.

Each year, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims and tourists visit the Mahabodhi complex there, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002.