A day after Gujarat Police said that self-styled godman Nithyananda has fled the country, officials said Friday he may have left India “some time back”.
Nithyananda has been accused of abducting young children in Gujarat. He had been under trial since June 2018 in a case of rape, unnatural sex, cheating and criminal intimidation in connection with complaints brought against him by two former devotees.
On Friday, police said Nithyananda has not been seen in any of his ashram sessions in India since the trial in his rape case began. They are now contacting various security agencies to find out when and how he left the country — his passport had expired on September 30, 2018, and according to police, it has not been renewed due to the trial.
“It is speculated that the accused might have moved out of India some time back. It could also be around 2018, since his passport expired last year in September. We are trying to find out his exact location,” Ahmedabad (Rural) SP R V Asari said.
On November 1, a couple from Tamil Nadu approached the Gujarat State Commission for Protection of Child Rights and complained that their four children were under illegal confinement at Nithyananda’s ashram in Ahmedabad. Police entered the ashram on November 16 and rescued the younger children. The two older children were not found at the ashram.
“The two daughters of complainant have uploaded a video, addressing the media and now we are sure that they are together. Efforts are being made to find out about their location,” Asari said.
The earlier case involves two separate assault complaints brought to the Karnataka Police CID by two former devotees — a 32-year-old woman who was working in the US, and a male US resident. They were allegedly coerced into sexual acts by the godman.
The case has dragged on despite the CID filing a chargesheet nearly five years ago. The trial court tried to obtain the presence of the godman at various times, but Nithyananda, who has employed a battery of Bengaluru’s top criminal lawyers to fight the case, managed to obtain orders from other courts to negate these efforts.
See pics | Nithyananda and his many controversies
However, the allegations of sexual assault did not originate in the complaints by the two US residents — in March 2010, videos emerged of the godman in a compromising position with a Tamil film actress.
However, the actress claimed she was not the person in the video, and she was not a victim of sexual assault.
Just as the case seemed to be headed towards a dead end, the US resident woman, who had been a part of the Nithyananda spiritual set up from 2005 to 2009, approached the CID, saying she was sexually assaulted by the godman on various occasions.
A second complaint also landed before the CID from the male US resident, who had been allegedly coerced into sexual acts by the godman.
These two complaints form the crux of the rape and criminal intimidation cases against Nithyananda and five of his associates. The CID has relied on the non-disclosure agreements — where an addenda cited the possibility that “the programme may involve the learning and practice of ancient tantric secrets associated with male and female ecstasy, including the use of sexual energy”.
The case was sent to trial by a sessions court in Ramanagaram last year after finding that the CID had a prima facie case to prosecute.
While the case was being investigated, Nithyananda had attempted to counter the rape charges by claiming to be impotent. The police, however, have produced a report from doctors at the Victoria Hospital, Bengaluru, to prove that the godman is capable of performing sexual acts.