State, TN lay dragnet for Nithyananda

Police in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu on Tuesday launched a manhunt for self-styled godman Nithyananda who had disappeared from his ashram in Bidadi near here on Friday.

Armed with a search warrant, police stand outside the Nithyananda Ashram at Bidadi on Tuesday. DH photoPolice also began a search of the Bidadi ashram on the orders of the State Government, while the Tamil Nadu police stepped up vigil across the districts of Dharmapuri and Salem bordering Karnataka to nab Nithyananda who shot to questionable fame two years ago when a CD surfaced, purportedly showing him and a Tamil actress in a comprosing position.

The Karnataka government  has directed the police to arrest Nithyananda at the earliest, and also take into custody all the others named in the First Information Report (FIR) filed at the Ramanagara police station in connection with last week’s incidents of violence at the ashram. Nithyananda’s counsel moved the High Court seeking to quash the FIR filed on the basis of a complaint by Bhima Shankar Patil and a Kannada news channel. Ramanagara Superintendent of Police, Anup Agarwal told Deccan Herald that Nithyananda was named accused number 1 in the FIR. Two complaints were filed against him on charges of assault, giving life threat and abetment.

In his submission to the court, Nithyananda contended that the complaints registered against him under various sections of  IPC were baseless, as no offence was made against him. The complaint, according to him, was mala fide. The registration of crime and proclaimations made in the complaint, he submitted, would bring “untold hardship and inconvenience” to him.

The matter is likely to come up for hearing on Wednesday.
Agarwal said till Tuesday night, the police had no information about Nithyananda’s whereabouts. “If we find Nithyananda, we will arrest him on charges of assault and threat to life and this has nothing to do with the sleaze tapes,” he said.

Agarwal said there are 120 ashramites inside and sealing the Ashram and documents search is left to the onus of district administration.

Earlier, the Home Secretary Raghavendra Auradkar ordered for a high level inquiry into the irregularities in Nithyananda  ashram, to be conducted by the Bangalore Regional Commissioner. Auradkar has set a deadline of 15 days to finish the inquiry and submit the report.

Alleged irregularities

The inquiry will look into alleged irregularities and illegal acts at Dhyanapeetam in Bidadi; alleged violation related to 20 acres 35 gunta ashram land which is being used for non-agricultural purpose without land conversion and is a violation as per section 95 of Karnataka Land Revenue Act 1964.

Factors raised in the related report submitted by Ramanagara DC to the State Government on June 11, 2012; alleged sexual activities in the ashram; alleged narcotics use at the ashram; and any other irregularities and illegal activities.

After finishing the search for the day at the Bidadi ashram around 9 pm on Tuesday, SP Agarwal and DC Srirama Reddy said no concrete evidence against Nityananda had been found during the search. “We searched mainly the administrative office of the Ashram and procured some electronic evidence like CDs and hard disk, which will be studied,” said Reddy.

Reddy further said that the search will resume on Wednesday around 9 am.
“In all possibility, we will seal the Ashram in the next five to six days,” he added.

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