Nithyananda disciples among 35 arrested

Police today made a lathicharge and arrested 35 persons after a clash between a group of people protesting against self-styled godman Nithyananda and his disciples at his ashram in Bidadi near here.

The arrests came as protests broke out against Nithyananda in the backdrop of recent allegations by a US-based woman that she was sexually abused by him for five years, a charge denied by him.

The arrested include 15 disciples of Nithyananda who were locked in a fisticuff with the protesters of a Kannada outfit after they barged into the ashram and clashed with his followers, prompting the police lathicharge.

Police took 35 persons into custody, Ramanagara District Superintendent of Police Anup Agarwal told reporters.

Earlier, police registered two cases against Nithyananda and his followers in connection with an altercation between the self-styled godman's followers and a section of media during a press conference at his ashram yesterday.

Police registered the cases on a complaint by a regional TV reporter and a Kannada outfit. Acting on a counter complaint, police also filed two cases against the reporter and the outfit activists.

Nithyananda had convened the press meet to respond to allegations made by the woman, who has lodged a complaint in the US.

"The police will initiate action as per law to bring the situation under control", Agarwal, whose effort to meet Nityananda failed, said.

Meanwhile, Home Minister R Ashok asked the police to investigate the issue and initiate action as per law.

Nityananda is facing a CID probe into allegations of rape and criminal intimidation levelled against him in 2010 after some TV channels telecast purported video footage of the self-styled godman in a compromising position with an actress.

He was arrested in Himachal Pradesh in 2010 and released on bail.

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