Aravazhi Siddhar
© The New Indian ExpressAravazhi Siddhar.
For residents of BV Colony in Vyasarpadi, the name Aravazhi Siddhar stood for an extremely religious man, until he was recently arrested for abusing a 14-year-old girl and forcing her into prostitution in connivance with her mother.

The agony faced by the young girl, who had escaped to Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh and was selling mangoes to escape from the hands of her tormentors, may have come as a rude shock for many in the city, but for those in BV Colony, what is more shocking is the dark side of their 'Siddhar'.

"He always wore saffron dhoti and his appearance used to be pious. Even though he was known as an astrologer, he was reputed for his special poojas.

We always called him Siddhar and no one knew what his actual name was," said Kamaraj, a local resident and his regular patron.

According to the CB-CID officials, it was the astrologer, who first abused the minor girl and later referred her to two women pimps who started regularly forcing her into flesh trade after administering narcotics.

"It is surprising how such incidents took place without raising any suspicion in this thickly populated area. My house is just adjacent to the hut and even if there is any minor commotion, it can't go unnoticed," said a neighbour of the astrologer.

Siddhar was residing in the same hut for last 15 years. The interiors of the hut resembled like a mini "ashram" as locals refer to this hut.

"He had told us that he is married and his wife is living in another house. But we have never seen her. He also said he has offices in two other places in the city where he would periodically visit to give astrology consultations," said Shanmugam, who owns the hut in which the accused was residing.

But all the locals have noticed the girl being often taken to the hut by her mother. "I thought they too were coming for astrology consultation," said Shanmugam.

Apart from the astrologer and girl's mother, five other persons have been arrested in connection with the case.

Under Scanner

A police official privy to the investigations said they are looking for more persons who had abused the minor girl over a period of six months. "The two women who had forced the girl into the flesh trade are still absconding. We have also got leads about more persons involved in the abuse of the girl," said a police source.

Meanwhile, the CB-CID officials produced five accused Kumar, Appu, Babloo, Ganesh and Sathish before a Metropolitan Magistrate, who remanded them to judicial custody. All the five are lodged in Puzhal prison.