NEW DELHI/BENGALURU: The Bidadi ashram of self-styled godman Swami Nithyananda, facing charges of illegal confinement of children and charge-sheeted in a rape case, is practically empty. And has been for over a year. The self-proclaimed godman who disappeared from the country and resurfaced some 24 hours ago on a remote island off the coast of Ecuador, close to Trinidad and Tobago that he has proclaimed a Hindu nation, Kailaasa, with its own flag and political setup — official language, English, Sanskrit and Tamil — had left the country several weeks ago, within hours of an FIR being registered against him.
Jurisdictional police in Ramnagar district said they had no idea where he was and that they were not in the loop when a Gujarat police team raided the Ramnagara ashram in search of the godman, one of 15 ashrams he runs across the country.
Top police sources have told Deccan Chronicle that he may have taken a convoluted land route to avoid passport checks to get to Nepal from where he may have flown out to his new safe haven in South America.
Clearly looking for a way out, Nithyananda, whose Indian passport had expired in 2018 was trying to get Australian citizenship. But Australian authorities reportedly sought clearance from local police in Bidadi, where his ashram is located. The local Ramnagara police are said to have responded in detail about the allegations, charges and the cases pending against him in court and asked them not to consider his request. Then, local officials had not renewed his passport for various reasons, sources said.
Officials pointed to the spotlight on the ashram in Bidadi, where the controversial godman’s first scandal broke in 2010. A video of him in a compromising position with an actress had gone viral and he went into hibernation for almost eight years. It was only a year ago that he emerged in a new avatar. Dressed in maroon and sporting a tiger pelt, he had grown a moustache, a beard and matted locks. He carried a trident and wore beaded necklaces.
Last month, a controversy broke when an FIR was registered against Nithyananda after two girls went missing from Yogini Sarvagyapeetham, his ashram in Ahmedabad, He was charged with kidnapping and wrongful confinement of children to make them collect donations from followers to run his ashram.