Self-styled godman Swami Nithyananda, booked in a criminal case related to his ashram in Ahmedabad, has fled the country, with the Gujarat police working to gather concrete evidence against him after taking two of his disciples in remand, officials said on Thursday, 21 November.
An FIR was registered on Wednesday against the controversial guru on the charges of kidnapping and wrongful confinement of children to make them collect donations from followers to run his ashram here, Yogini Sarvagyapeetham.
Ahmedabad (Rural) Superintendent of Police RV Asari said Nithyananda has fled abroad, and if required, the Gujarat Police will seek his custody through proper channel.
"If required, we will go through proper channel to seek his custody from abroad. We will definitely arrest him if he comes back to India," Asari said.
Two of his disciples, Pranpriya and Priyatatva, arrested on Tuesday on kidnapping, illegal confinement and assault, among other charges, were sent to five days police remand by a rural court here on Wednesday evening and are being questioned by the police, Deputy SP (Ahmedabad rural), K T Kamariya said.
He said the police are also investigating the case of a woman missing from Nithyananda’s ashram after a complaint was registered by her father Janardhana Sharma at the Vivekanand police station.
We have taken two disciples in remand. If we get concrete evidence against the swami during the current investigation, then we will proceed with the case against him.
"He has been mentioned as an accused in the FIR, but we still need concrete evidence to proceed against him," Kamariya said.
Gujarat Home Minister Pradipsinh Jadeja told reporters that nobody involved in the case will be spared.
He said the DGP has directed the SP concerned to form a team to investigate the matter in detail.
"The police have worked with great sensitivity on the case and have arrested two persons in this connection. Nobody involved in the case will be spared."
"The DGP has directed the SP to form a team to investigate the matter in detail and take strict action against all those involved," Jadeja 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.
Nithyananda is also an accused in an alleged rape case filed against him in Karnataka.
The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday had issued notices to the self-styled godman and the state government on a plea filed by a man seeking custody of his two daughters "detained" at his Ahmedabad ashram.
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