A 60-year-old Hindu man in India has castrated himself in a dramatic protest against the arrest of a holyman.

Bapa Premdas, of Uttar Pradesh state, was found bleeding and with his manhood severed a week after swami Asaram Bapu, who has millions of followers, was arrested on a sex charge.

Police believe the self-mutilation was connected to the arrest, AFP said.

"Why he did it is not clear. Some say it was because of Bapu's arrest, some say it was because he feared ending up in Bapu's situation. No one knows," said Alankrita Singh, chief of police of the city of Amethi.

Police planned to question Premdas after he receives hospital treatment.

Political conspiracy

Bapu, 72, was charged with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl at a religious retreat under the pretence of exorcising evil spirits from her, police said. According to the victim's statement, he assaulted her for an hour and threatened to kill her parents after she started screaming, One India reported.

Two days after the assault, the girl's parents filed a complaint with police in Delhi. A medical examination confirmed that she had been sexually assaulted and Bapu was charged him molestation.

He denied the allegation and claimed it was the result of a political conspiracy against him.

Since his arrest, hundreds of supporters have protested outside his prison and have blocked railway lines in the area.

His bail plea was rejected by the court in the Jodhpur district. He was being held in custody until 15 September.

Earlier this year, Bapu was widely criticised for saying that the 23-year-old Delhi gang rape victim would have been set free if she had pleaded for mercy and called her attackers brothers.