Days after a controversy erupted over the alleged illegal confinement of women at self-styled godman Nithyananda’s ashram in Ahmedabad, the city police Thursday said he has fled the country. Ahmedabad (Rural) Superintendent of Police R V Asari said the Gujarat police would seek his custody through proper channels if required.
The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday issued notices to Nithyananda and the state government on a habeas corpus petition filed by a Tamil Nadu-based man who alleged his two daughters were allegedly abducted and kept in “illegal confinement” at the ashram.
The petitioner, Janardhana Sharma, 48, said he had enrolled four of his children in Nithyananda’s ashram in Bengaluru, called Nithyananda Dhyanpeetham, in 2013 as he expected “the children will have better and spiritual upliftment”. However, he claimed they were taken to the Yogini Sarvagyapeetham, situated on the premises of Delhi Public School in Ahmedabad, without his permission. He said the authorities at the ashram had not allowed him and his wife to meet their children.
On Thursday, the police arrested DPS school principal Hitesh Puri for “not providing information to the police before leasing out school land to the ashram”.
The development came hours after the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) sought a report from the Gujarat Education Department regarding how the land of a school was leased to Nithyananda’s ashram in Ahmedabad without its permission.
“The board has written to the State Education Department to inquire into the matter of leasing out land of DPS Maninagar, Ahmedabad to Swami Nithyananda ashram without permission of the board,” a senior CBSE official said.
The local police have arrested two managers of the ashram under Indian Penal Code (IPC) Sections 364, 344, 323, 504, 506 (2) which pertain to abducting, confining, causing hurt, intentionally insulting and criminally intimidating respectively, along with sections of the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act.
(With inputs from Express News Service)