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Controversial godman Chandraswami, allegedly involved in Rajiv Gandhi assassination, dies at 66

The Enforcement Directorate was still investigating the case against Chandraswami for his alleged involvement as a financier in Rajiv Gandhi's assassination.

The Enforcement Directorate was still investigating the case against Chandraswami for his alleged involvement as a financier in Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. (file photo)

Controversial godman Chandraswami died on Tuesday after suffering a stroke. Doctors at the Apollo Hospital  said the 66-year-old’s condition deteriorated despite their best efforts.  “Spiritual leader Jagadacharya Chandraswami ji, 66 years old, had been ailing for some time. He recently suffered a stroke and later developed multi-organ failure. He succumbed to the illness today at 2.56 pm,” a statement released by the hospital said.

Chandraswami shot to fame for his purported skills in astrology. His association with former prime minister P V Narsimha Rao shot him into the limelight. He was widely known as Rao’s spiritual adviser. Soon after Rao was made prime minister, Chandraswami built the Vishwa Dharmayatan Sanathan ashram in Delhi. The land was reportedly allotted to Chandraswami by former prime minister Indira Gandhi.

Chandraswami reportedly advised many top global personalities of the political, royal and crime world. The disciples  of Sultan of Brunei, Sheikh Isa bin Salman Al Khalifa of Bahrain, actress Elizabeth Taylor, British PM Margaret Thatcher, arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, crime Lord Dawood Ibrahim and ‘Tiny’ Rowland.

The godman had been at the centre of a number of legal controversies, including financial irregularities. He was arrested in 1996 for allegedly defrauding a businessman in London. He has faced multiple charges of Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) from the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

A raid by the income tax department on one of his ashrams reportedly recovered original payment drafts to Khashoggi amounting to $11 million. The Jain Commission, in its comprehensive report, alleged that Chandraswami was involved in the assassination of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi.

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The Enforcement Directorate was still investigating the case against Chandraswami for his alleged involvement in Gandhi’s killing as a financier.In 2009, his travel ban was lifted by the Supreme Court and he was allowed to travel abroad.  In June 2011, the ED had imposed a fine of Rs 9 crore on Chandraswami  for FERA violations.