Ahmedabad: Controversial self-styled godman Swami Nithyananda, accused of illegally confining children in his ashram in Ahmedabad, has fled the country, news agency PTI reported.
“Nithyananda has fled abroad, and if required, the Gujarat police will seek his custody through proper channel,” Ahmedabad (Rural) Superintendent of Police R V Asari said.
It must be noted that an FIR was registered Wednesday against Nithyananda on the charges of kidnapping and wrongful confinement of children to make them collect donations from followers to run his ashram here, Yogini Sarvagyapeetham.
With reports of Nithyananda having fled to Trinidad and Tobago doing rounds, the Ministry of External Affairs said that they have not received any information or any request for Nithyananda’s extradition yet.
“We have no formal information, neither from the Gujarat police nor the Home Ministry. Also, for any extradition request, we need the location and nationality details of the person. We don’t have such info about him yet,” NDTV quoted the foreign ministry spokesperson as saying.
Further, two of his disciples, Pranpriya and Priyatatva were Tuesday arrested on charges of kidnapping, illegal confinement and assault, among other charges, They were sent to five days police remand by a rural court here on Wednesday evening and are undergoing interrogation currently, Deputy SP (Ahmedabad rural), KT Kamariya said.
He said the police are also investigating the case of a woman missing from Nithyananda’s ashram here after a complaint was registered by her father Janardhana Sharma at the Vivekanand police station.
“He has been mentioned as an accused in the FIR, but we still need concrete evidence to proceed against him, Kamariya said.
The two sadhvis were arrested after two children aged 9 to 10 years enrolled at the ashram told the police they were tortured, made to work and kept in illegal confinement at a flat in the city for over ten days.
Similar allegations were made by two other children rescued from the ashram on the basis of a complaint filed by their parents, the police said.
The accused persons have been booked under sections 365 (kidnapping or abducting with intent to secretly and wrongfully confine a person), 344 (wrongful confinement for ten or more days), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of peace), and 502 (sale of printed or engraved substance containing defamatory matter) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
They have also been booked under section 14 of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act, 1986, the police officer said.
In June last year, a Karnataka court had framed charges against Nithyananda in a rape case.
(With PTI inputs)