Children drugged, tortured at Indian ashram in Australia

Children drugged, tortured at Indian ashram in Australia

A public hearing here has revealed shocking details of cases of sex abuse in Australia by an Indian yoga guru, who died around 17 years ago, media reported Wednesday.

Children living at the ashram were starved, tortured and drugged, according to the evidence presented at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

"I was forced to expose my genitals to ashram members and drugged with morphine for minor ailments," said a former child resident, given the pseudonym APK.

"Children as young as four were tortured at the ashram," she said.
APK moved to the ashram with her family when she was aged nine in 1978.

Her older sister, given the pseudonym APL, told the commission that sexual activity was banned at the ashram and those who disobeyed were punished by its leader, Swami Akhandananda Saraswati.

Children went on what they called "f*** patrol" across the ashram's grounds at Mangrove Mountain on the central coast to see if any adults were being intimate.

"If Akhandananda found out that any of the swamis were guilty he would publicly shame them and sometimes beat them," she said.

The commission heard that Akhandananda, who established the ashram in 1974, was a serial sex abuser who forced child residents into depraved acts for his own gratification.

Many such cases were reported from the Satyananda Yoga Ashram located on Mangrove Mountain, New South Wales, in the 1970s and 1980s.

Satyananda Yoga Ashram, which changed its name to Mangrove Yoga Ashram in 2012, and Swami Akhandananda Saraswati were later charged with over 35 sex offences against four teenaged girls.

Akhandananda was found guilty on lesser charges of indecency and was jailed in 1989 but his conviction was overturned six years before his death in 1997.

Eleven of the victims have contacted the commission and nine will give evidence during the two-week hearing.

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