‘Godman’ Nithyananda May Have Fled India in 2018: Karnataka Police
Forty-two-year-old A Rajasekaran, now popularly known as Swami Nithyananda, is possibly the latest entry to India’s list of fugitives. Ahmedabad Police, which is probing the self-styled Godman for alleged abuse of minors at his ashram, on 21 November, confirmed he had fled the country. Gujarat Police suspect he is holed up in a South American country, possibly Belize.
While it is now clear that Nithyananda has fled the country, the questions of how and when prevail. Karnataka Police, which has filed a charge sheet against him in a 2010 rape case, had objected to the renewal of his passport which expired in September 2018.
Since they believe he doesn’t have the clout to create a fake passport, the police suspects the self-styled Godman might have fled the country in 2018, months after the trial in the rape case began.
‘Smart Enough to Avoid Trial for 8 Years’
“One of his online videos says he (Nithyananda) attained enlightenment when he was 12,” said a police officer going through documents delivered by his sentry. “I don’t know about enlightenment, but he was smart enough to avoid trial for eight years,” he added.
A case of rape was registered against Nithyananda in 2010 after a US citizen accused him of raping her for over five years in pretext of spirituality. However, the charges in the case were framed by a session court only in 2018.
“First, he went up to the Supreme Court asking to quash the charge sheet. He went to the court again claiming he was impotent. The entire process of conducting potency tests and submitting reports delayed the process further. Then he withdrew the claim of impotency and said the sexual relationship was consensual.”Senior Karnataka Police Officer
It is this delay which makes cops suspicious that he fled the country in 2018 itself. “By August 2018, he had run out of excuses. The court had framed charges and the recording of statements had begun. Since we had objected to the renewal of his passport, he knew he didn’t have much time to flee the country. So, he must have left before his passport expired,” said the officer.
Absent From Ashram
A senior police officer posted in Ramanagaram district in 2018 said that during the latter half of the year, Nithyananda hadn’t been present at the ashram. The police had spoken to a few inmates and upon visiting the ashram, had been informed of Nithyananda’s unavailability there. “The activity at the ashram too had reduced during this period of time. The official statement of the staff was that he was on a tour,” said the officer.
According to the officer, during this period, there was a surge of his videos on social media. These videos, shot in an ‘Indian setup’, cops now suspect, were attempts to falsely project that he was in the country.
Karnataka Police, especially the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) which is probing the rape case, is not aware of Nithyananda’s whereabouts.
However, according to latest inputs, Nithyananda left India via Nepal. From Nepal, he went to Thailand and made his way to Ecuador in a cargo ship. Karnataka Police, however, added that this is not official information which has been verified by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) or Ministry of External Affairs.
Why Didn’t Cops Keep Track of Him?
When questioned if there’d been police inaction in keeping track of Nithyananda, a senior officer said he’d been on bail and it wasn’t possible to keep him in custody. He added that when Nithyananda failed to appear in the court in September 2018, cops had pushed for a non-bailable warrant against him.
The court issued non-bailable warrant, however, his lawyers had moved high court and got the non-bailable warrant squashed, the officer added.
Talking about the way forward, he said Gujarat Police is contemplating the legal recourse to bring Nithyananda back to India, if he is in Belize. However, India doesn’t have an extradition treaty with this South American country.
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