Nithyananda ashram: Guj HC orders trace of sisters

PTI file photo

The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday asked the police to seek help from the Central government in order to locate the two female disciples of controversial self-styled godman Swami Nithyananda to bring them back from their unknown location abroad. The high court said that it is concerned for the safety of these two females since they are not showing up. 

The father of these two girls has filed a habeas corpus petition seeking their custody while alleging that his daughters have been "brainwashed" and kidnapped by the controversial godman. The division bench of the high court led by justice S R Brahmbhatt brushed aside contents of an affidavit reportedly sent by the girls through post, stating that "this creates doubt and that too from a place where our law doesn't work." 

The petitioner father, originally from Tamil Nadu, has also filed an FIR against Nithyananda and two of his disciples identified as Harini Chellappan alias Nithya Pranpriyananda, 30, and Riddhi Ravikiran alias Nithya Priyatatvananda, both originally from Bidadi in Karnataka. The FIR alleges that to raise funds, the accused used to keep the students in illegal confinement, torture them and involve them in child labour. These students used to live at “Yogini Sarvagyapeetham” located at Hathijan in Ahmedabad district.  

According to the father, his four children including three daughters had joined Gurukulam Study at Nithyananda Dhyanapeetham, Nithyananda Nagara, Bidadi, Bengaluru in 2013 but earlier this year they were shifted to Ahmedabad Ashram without any notice. When the parents came to meet the children, they were not permitted. After police intervention, two of their minor children were returned but two daughters who are aged 18 and 20 years old didn't return.

During the court hearing on Tuesday, the police informed that one of the daughters is living abroad for more than a year while the other one "fled" on November 5 after their parents approached the police. Police said that the other daughter, after recording her statement, fled to some unknown location via Nepal. In the court, police also submitted that the two girls are living together who have released at least 30 videos claiming that they don't want to go back to their parents.

Hinting that something was wrong, the court said who would be sponsoring the girls' travelling and stay like this. The bench said that although the girls are adults they will have to show up before the court. It said that if the girls need protection, it will be given. The court also suggested that the girls can be contacted by Indian embassies where they can record their statement in presence of judicial officer as well.

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