NEW DELHI (AFP) - An award-winning Indian writer is on the run after five women who worked as cooks at a charity school he founded accused him of rape, police said on Friday.
Mr Laxman Mane, 63, disappeared after the women filed complaints earlier this week, alleging that he had repeatedly assaulted them between 2003 and 2010, mostly on the school premises in western Maharashtra state.
"He has been on the run since the first case was filed at midnight on Monday," said Mr Amol Tambe, additional superintendent of police in the state's Satara district, where Mane was living.
"A new complaint was filed on Wednesday. We have dispatched police teams to trace him," Mr Tambe told AFP by telephone.
Mr Mane is executive president of the trust that runs the school for underprivileged children.
The case comes at a time when India is under fire for its treatment of women following the fatal gang-rape of a student on a bus in New Delhi in December and a series of other sexual assaults.
Mr Mane, who writes in the local Marathi language, was awarded the Padma Shri - one of India's highest civilian awards - for his contribution to vernacular literature in 2009.
His autobiography titled 'Upara' (Outsider) bagged the prestigious Sahitya Akademi (National Academy of Letters) award in 1981.
The women, all of whom are aged between 30 and 35, claimed Mr Mane raped them in the school's office, storeroom and canteen as well as at a government-run guesthouse, after promising to make them permanent employees.
A clerk at the school has been accused of abetting.
Mr Mane's family has dismissed the charges as baseless.
"Some of the employees of the school seem to have conspired to implicate my father in a false case," Mr Mane's son Bhai was quoted as saying by the Press Trust of India news agency.