Fake Babas In India: Crimes And Cure

  • by India Desk
  • 07 May 2018 16:38
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Swami Nithyananda
The case against Nithyananda of raping one of his disciples is currently pending for trial at the Ramanagara sessions court, the trial has not even started. The Supreme Court has stayed the trial court proceedings based on yet another petition filed by him in 2014 to consider his self-generated medical reports of impotency. The next hearing in the apex court is scheduled for September 2017.

Popular for his spiritual discourses and meditation programmes, Swami Nithyananda was named as one of the 100 most spiritually influential living people in the world by Watkins’ Mind Body Spiri magazine. He claimed to be the most-watched spiritual teacher on YouTube with more than 14 million views.

Regardless of his YouTube following, what got him a hefty dose of notoriety was video footage that showed him in a compromising position with a south Indian actress. When the clip was shown on TV, Hindu groups protested against him. Meanwhile, Nithyananda has been accused of rape by Indian-born American citizen, Arthi Rao, in June 2012. The Swami, who has ashrams in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Las Vegas, US, denied the allegations.

Sant Rampal, 65-years-old, set up the Satlok Ashram in Hisar in 1999, which over time built up a large following all over Haryana, is in jail over cases pertaining to sedition, murder and attempt to murder – he had been arrested in 2014. While Rampal, who described himself as a successor of the ‘supreme god’ Kabir, continues to be in jail over these charges, he has been acquitted of charges of assault, obstructing a public servant, rioting and unlawful assembly. The trail of money and muscle power continues with Sant Rampal. His sprawling 12-acre ashram in Barwala in Haryana had a fleet of luxury cars standing outside it. He had other ashrams in Rohtak and Jhajjar. According to some, he had over 25 lakh followers at the time of his arrest which came after the bodies of five women and a child were found at his Satlok ashram. That was after the police won a stand-off over 10 days against well-armed bodyguards of the religious leader, who Incidentally is an engineer.

Bling Guru Gurmeet Singh
His full name, the way that his followers would have it is, Dr Saint Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh Insaan, the man who presides over the Sirsa, Haryana-based Dera Sacha Sauda. As his conviction in the two rape cases revealed – behind the jovial exterior, his pretensions of being an actor, his attempt at singing, his motorcycle riding and a lifestyle that resembles a child living out his dreams, as his fantastically designed ashram revealed, and the charitable work that his dera was doing – there was a criminal edge to all that he did. The judgment by the special CBI court delivered on August 28 merely described him as Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, resident of Dera Sacha Sauda, Sirsa.

The “convict has projected himself as godman and took undue advantage undue advantage of his position/authority and committed rape upon innocent girls and it is not ordinary case but rarest of rare case which has larger implications for the entire society, and accordingly convict deserves maximum punishment for each count that he has been convicted.”

The dera chief, through his lawyer, had tried to present the good work done by him in the plea to mitigate the sentence. In fact, these are all reasons that contributed to his large following – de-addiction camps, social work in Haryana “especially when Govt. of Haryana has failed to do such works” and 133 running welfare projects. However, the court said that the “peculiar facts and circumstances of the case”, like exploiting his own disciples and threatening them with dire consequences ensured that he did not “deserve any sympathy”.

Ram Rahim’s troubles seem far from over. He faces judgment in the murder case of a journalist who exposed the goings-on at the dera, which led to the case being registered against him.

For all that, though, the Dera Sacha Sauda chief managed to get political support across the board.

Dancing guru, Asaram Bapu
The 76-year-old, Asaram Bapu has been in a Rajasthan jail since August 2013 over allegations of raping a 16-year-old schoolgirl at his ashram earlier that year. On August 28, 2017, the Supreme Court said, "Why this delay in the trial? Tell us why you haven't examined the victim yet?" the to the Gujarat government, ordering it to submit a progress report.

In October 2013, he and his son Narayan Sai were booked for the alleged rape of two sisters at their ashram in Gujarat's Surat. The trial is pending in a court in Gandhinagar. There was also a 2008 case relating to the Motera Ashram in Gandhinagar, where two boys were found dead.

Asaram Bapu was born in Sind in undivided India and had over 425 ashrams and 50 gurukuls all over the country at the time of his arrest. He had a huge following and would entertain them with his flowing dance movements. He was not always tactful. For instance, after the December 16 rape and murder case, he said the victim was equally to blame.

Radhe Maa, 52, always portrayed herself as a north Indian bride, wearing red and gold, and would be heavily made up. Her dress sense sometimes offended people, and after a video emerged of her being carried around by followers of her Shri Radhe Guru Maa Charitable Trust, she was charged with obscenity. Activist lawyer Falguni Brahmbhatt lodged a police complaint against her for obscenity, running a business disguised as religion, fraud, and cheating.

However, the main case against her was filed by a Mumbai-based woman who accused her of instigating her in-laws to torture her. She was accused of inciting her in-laws to demand more dowry, and of forcing her to work at the ashram, where she was reportedly assaulted. In October 2016, the Mumbai Police dropped Radhe Maa’s name from dowry case. Actress Dolly Bindra had also filed a criminal case of threatening and sexual harassment against her.

Serial offender, Swami Bhimanand
Much against his wishes, troubles do not seem to end for Shreemurath Dwivedi, better known as Ichchadhari Sant Swami Bhimanand Maharaj Chitrakoot Wale to his disciples.

On August 28, 2017, Swami Bhimanand was arrested by Delhi Police for forgery. He allegedly took Rs 30 lakh from a woman in exchange for a job in railway’s IRCTC.

However, that seems to be a lesser crime. In 2010, he was arrested by Delhi Police for running a Rs 500 crore sex racket in Delhi. For the police, it was a tough arrest to make. Over 2,000 people surrounded the Chitrakoot ashram when the police tried to enter the premises. For the record, such cases are not new for the swami – he was arrested in 1997 for running a sex racket and in 1998 for receiving stolen property.

Kanchi seer, Jayendra Saraswati
Eighty-two-year-old Jayendra Saraswati, the sixty-ninth Shankaracharya of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham, and his junior Vijayendra were the prime accused in the murder of Sankararaman, the manager of the Varadarajaperumal temple at Kanchipuram, in September 3, 2004. They were charged for criminal conspiracy and murder. Another 'attempt-to-murder' case was filed by an auditor, Radhakrishnan, in Chennai. He alleged that Jayendra Saraswati sent goons to his house to kill him because he had questioned the missing 83 kg of gold meant for the Kamakshi temple at Kanchipuram.

However, in April 2016, a court acquitted him of all cases in the assault case. Courts in 2013 acquitted the Sankaracharya in the murder case.

Police had first arrested the Acharya on November 11, 2004, for the gruesome murder of Sankarara man inside Kanchi Varadarajaperumal Temple on September 3, 2004. While in custody, police formally arrested him for an assault on auditor Radhakrishnan in September 2002. The judgment said: "The prosecution has failed to prove the charges against all accused. They are acquitted of all charges."

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