Godman nabbed from his HP hideout; to be flown in today
Nearly two months after being in hiding following the expose of his sex romp with a Tamil actress in his Bidadi ashram near Bangalore, self-styled godman Nithyananda was arrested in Solan district of Himachal Pradesh along with four other associates on Wednesday afternoon.
Nithyananda’s hideout in Shivshankargarh village under Arki police station was busted in a meticulously planned joint operation by a Karnataka-Himachal Pradesh CID team. The sleuths seized Rs 3 lakh and $7,000 in cash, three laptops, three video cameras, seven cell phone handsets, five SIM cards and a host of documents from the house in which the four were holed up for over a month.
The four associates of Nithyananda have been identified as Gopal Sheelum Reddy, alias Bhaktananda, who heads Nithyananda’s so-called spiritual and healing foundations in the US, Nithya Sanatanananda, Arpit Sangil, who briefly headed the godman’s Singapore ashram, and Arun Raj.
In another blow to Nithyananda, the godman’s anticipatory bail was rejected by the Ramanagara district court near Bangalore. In the case Nithyananda filed in the Karnataka High Court, seeking quahing of investigations against him, the single judge bench of Justice Arali Nagaraj directed the police to submit all records in respect of the arrest and status of the probe.
Two days back, a Sriperumbudur court near Chennai had issued a non-bailable arrest warrant against Nithyananda.
Vital clues on the godman’s whereabouts came from a cell phone number whose SIM card originated in an UP town. His precise location was detected near Sayri and Mamlig cell phone towers which indicated the movement of the accused persons in Mamlig panchayat.
Following this discovery, some plainclothes police men were deployed in the area.
The police monitored the calls, several of which were made to numbers in California and different parts of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, and zeroed-in on Shivshankargarh village. Following door-to-door enquiries, the team knocked on the doors of the house in which the five had taken shelter. Nithyananda was attired in saffron robes and his four associates were also present when they were told they were under arrest.
Preliminary examination of the laptops, which had wireless Internet facility, indicate that some threat emails were sent out to persons in the US.
Solan Superintendent of Police Prem Thakur said the district police received information from the Karnatka CID concerning Nithyananda’s movement in the area on April 19.
Police sources said, a two-member Karnataka CID team comprising two deputy superintendents of police left for Solan three days back before teaming up with Himachal Pradesh CID sleuths. The Karnataka CID team was led by DSP N S Hussain. After cordoning off the “target” house, the slueths arrested the godman and his four devotees in a three-hour-long operation.
The four were later taken to Shimla for interrogation. Karnataka CID additional director general of police R V Guruprasad said the five arrested persons will be brought to Bangalore early Thursday evening. But the five will be produced before a Solan or Shimla court where the sleuths will seek a transit warrant for them to be taken to Bangalore.
Earlier, the Karnataka police had registered cases against Nithyananda on the charges of rape, committing unnatural sex, criminal intimidation, criminal conspiracy, cheating, deliberate and malicious act intended to outrage the religious sentiments under sections 295 A, 376, 377, 420, 506(1) and 120 of the Indian Penal Code.