Man claims his daughters held captive at Nithyananda's ashram
A Bengaluru couple moved the Gujarat High Court on Monday alleging that their two daughters have been illegally confined at the self-styled godman Swami Nithyananda's ashram in Ahmedabad. Earlier this month, the couple, Umeshwari and Janardhana Sharma, had approached the cops alleging that the officials at the ashram refused to let them meet their daughters. Here are more details.
Children admitted to Nithyananda's Bengaluru institution in 2013
According to PTI, Janardhana, who is a disciple of Nithyananda, enrolled his children at a Bengaluru-based educational institution run by Nithyananda in 2013. However, six months ago, the children were shifted to another branch of the Yogini Sarvagyapeetham ashram, Janardhana said. He claimed he was barred from meeting his children at the ashram, located on the premises of Delhi Public School, Ahmedabad.
Police helped family gain custody of two minors
On November 2, Janardhana approached police and Gujarat State Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (GSCPCR) to get his children moved out of Nithyananda's ashram. He managed to get his two minor children- aged 13 and 15- out of the ashram. However, two of his daughters- Lopamudra Janardhana Sharma (21) and Nandhita (18)- refused to leave, PTI reported.
FIR registered against Nithyananda, two aides
Notably, on Sunday evening, an FIR was filed at the Vivekanand Nagar police station. In the FIR, Janardhana alleged that three of his children were held captive at a bungalow beside the ashram. The FIR booked Nithyananda and his two aides- Pranpriya and Priyatattva- for abduction, wrongful confinement over 10 days and other relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code.
Children weren't allowed to leave, were thrashed: Police official
A cop told TOI, "The two children were very scared when they were taken to the Ashram apartment Monday." "After we convinced them that we'd protect them, they told us they wouldn't be allowed to go outside the apartment as one person of Ashram was always deployed with them," they said, adding that children were thrashed and forced to seek alms for the ashram.
Daughter claims she's staying at ashram willingly
Meanwhile, Deputy SP HS Sarda said that Janardhana's 18-year-old daughter gave a statement to the police wherein she maintained she was staying at the ashram of her own will. In a statement to GSCPCR, she claimed she volunteers for 'sanyas' and fears being killed by her own family, GSCPCR chairperson Jagruti Pandya said. An investigation is underway.
Purported videos of daughters refuting family's claims surface
Separately, two women, Ma Nithyananditha and Ma Nithya Tattvapriya Ananda, uploaded videos on social media on Sunday and Monday respectively, claiming to be Janardhana's daughters. The two claimed that their families were forcing them out of the ashram against their will.
Swami Nithyananda accused in rape case
In 2010, Swami Nithyananda was booked for raping his former disciple. In his defense, he had initially claimed that he was impotent, however, in March 2018, he claimed to have had "consensual sex" with the victim. In June 2018, a Karnataka court framed charges against Nithyananda in the case, upon the Supreme Court's order, and in August, the trial commenced.