India sex scandal guru arrested

At the protest against the Swami

Pictures of the holy man were burned at earlier protests

Police in India say a controversial Hindu holy man facing charges of obscenity has been arrested.

Nithyananda Swami was detained in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh where police said he had been hiding.

The guru stepped down last month as head of a religious organisation based in the southern city of Bangalore.

His announcement came after a video apparently showing him engaging in sexual acts with two women. He says he is innocent and the video is a fake.

Nithyananda Swami has a huge following in southern India and his mission has branches in several countries, including the US and Europe.

‘Spiritual seclusion’

“Nithyananda Swami was arrested at Solan [in Himachal Pradesh] along with his associate Gopal Seelam Reddy and they would be brought to Bangalore soon,” the city’s director general of police, DV Guruprasaad, said.

On Tuesday, the authorities raided the swami’s sprawling centre near Bangalore.

Nithyananda Swami, 32, stepped down as leader of the global Dhyanapeetam (Knowledge Centre) organisation soon after the police inquiry was launched.

“I have decided to live a life of spiritual seclusion for some indefinite time,” the guru said in a statement.

“If required, I will return and talk about all that had happened as an independent witness to my conduct with a clean heart and pure soul and in a less prejudiced atmosphere.”

The video shocked his devotees and angered locals – his ashram near Bangalore was vandalised after TV channels broadcast the video.

The guru’s followers allege the video was created and distributed by a jealous inmate of the ashram in a bid to defame him.

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