Eminent Marathi author Laxman Mane, a Padma Shri awardee, has been booked for allegedly raping three women, all Dalits, here in Western Maharashtra, police said. The 63-year-old writer, who is also a social activist, was booked after separate complaints were lodged by the women who are cooks at an 'ashram shala' (a residential school for tribal students) at Jakatwadi near here, they said. The trio, in the complaints, have alleged that Mane raped them on the pretext of confirming them in their jobs in the school, of which he is the working president. "They approached us following which we lodged a formal complaint against Mane last night," Inspector Shrirang Langhe of Satara taluka police station said today. The victims, married and aged between 30 and 35, alleged that Mane sexually exploited them after promising to make them permanent employees of the school, Langhe said. According to the complaints, the women were raped by Mane between 2003 and 2010 at the school, at the author's residence in Satara and also at a guest house in Pune. "We went to his house and places frequented by him. But we have not been able to locate him," Langhe said. "Three separate offences were registered against Mane under IPC Section 376 (rape).
We have sent teams to search him," Additional Superintendent of Police Amol Tambe said. When contacted, Mane's son Bhai said his father, a former MLC, has been falsely implicated. "The allegations made against my father are baseless. Some of the employees of the school seem to have conspired to implicate my father in a false case," he said. The writer's wife Shashitai also rubbished the charges. "My husband has been falsely implicated by the police. This is an attempt to malign his image." Mane won the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1981 and was honoured with the Padma Shri in 2009. Meanwhile, local units of Shiv Sena, BJP and other political parties have demanded that Padma Shri award be taken away from the author.