Controversial self-styled godman Nithyananda Paramahamsa, who went missing for five days after fresh charges of rape and confinement were levelled against him, was sent to jail for a day by a local court in Ramanagara, about 30 km from Bangalore on Wednesday.
The tainted guru, who had gone into hiding, prompting the Karnataka police to launch a massive manhunt to trace him, surrendered before the Ramanagara district court judge on Wednesday afternoon. Judge Komala remanded him to judicial custody for a day directing him to appear before the court on Thursday to hear his bail plea.
On Tuesday, the police evicted the occupants of Nithyananda’s ashram in Bidari on Bangalore’s outskirts and searched the premises. They were horrified to find a dump of condoms and ganja in the corner of a compound. The police sealed the ashram for further investigation.
A team of the police had gone to Madurai in Tamil Nadu to search for Nithyananda as he was recently anointed as the 293rd pontiff of the Adheenam Mutt.
On Tuesday, Karnataka Chief Minister D V Sadananda Gowda ordered the arrest of Nithyananda after several of his followers appeared on a private Kannada TV channel and accused the godman of exploiting them.
Arathi Rao, a follower of Nithyananda, gave a detailed account of her five-year experience with the guru. She alleged that Nithyananda repeatedly raped her and threatened her with dire consequences if she revealed it to anybody. Arathi also claimed that it was she who had secretly filmed Nithyananda’s sex tapes with a Tamil actress.
Though Arathi had not lodged any formal complaint with the police fearing repercussions, it was sufficient for the government to order a probe against Nithyananda. Initially, his followers tried to bravely defend Nithyananda by accusing Arathi of carrying out a slanderous campaign against their guru.
Things went out of control when the followers of Nithyananda evicted the journalist of the Kannada TV channel, which aired Arathi Rao’s interview, from the ashrama and allegedly beat him up.
The attack on the media prompted several Kannada organisations to vandalise Nithyananda’s ashram. The police registered an FIR against Nithyananda and his followers on the basis of a complaint lodged by the media.
Nithyananda had approached the high court seeking to quash the FIR filed against him. The court has adjourned hearing into the matter to Friday.
This is the second time that Nithyananda had gone into hiding. After the sex tapes went public in April last year, Nithyananda had moved into a secret location in Himachal Pradesh from where he was apprehended. At present, the Karnataka police CID is probing the old cases against Nithyananda.
Last year, public mounted pressure on the government after it was revealed that Nithyananda had forced some of his followers to sign a non-disclosure agreement to experiment with tantric sex.
“The volunteer understands 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 for increased intimacy/spiritual connection, pleasure, harmony and freedom,” said one of the clauses in the agreement.
This created furore as it was alleged that the guru was exploiting women by making them sign the contract. The CID is probing those charges as well.