Diplomacy

Ecuador Says It Denied Nithyananda Asylum; MEA Says He Left India Without Passport

On Friday, the embassy of Ecuador said that it “categorically denies the statement wherever published that Nithyananda was given asylum by Ecuador or has been helped by the Government of Ecuador in purchasing any land or island in South America”.

New Delhi: The fate of fugitive self-styled godman Swami Nithyananda continues to be a mystery. Even as Ecuador announced that Nithyananda had left their territory after his asylum request was denied, India confirmed that he left the country without a passport.

Nithyananda escaped from India after the police began probing his involvement in several criminal cases, including a rape case in Karnataka. His absence was announced by Gujarat police on November 21, just a day after he was booked in a criminal of kidnapping and wrongful confinement of children in his Ahmedabad ashram.

Over a week after he fled the country, a website surfaced, apparently set up by Nithyananda and his followers. It announced a new country, Kailaasa, which the website described as a “nation without borders created by dispossessed Hindus around the world who lost the right to practice Hinduism authentically in their own countries”.

Also read: Fugitive Godman Nithyananda Establishes a ‘Hindu Nation’ Near Ecuador, Invites ‘Citizens’

According to various media reports, the new ‘nation’ had been founded on an island near Ecuador.

On Friday, the embassy of Ecuador said that it “categorically denies the statement wherever published that self styled Guru Nithyananda was given asylum by Ecuador or has been helped by the Government of Ecuador in purchasing any land or island in South America near or far from Ecuador”.

However, the embassy said that Nithyananda had reached Ecuador after he left India. “Moreover, Ecuador denied the request for international personal protection (refuge) made by Mr. Nithyananda before Ecuador and later on Mr. Nithyananda left Ecuador,” sad the statement.

The Ecuadorian embassy further advised the India media against “citing Ecuador in any form in all pieces of information related to Nithyananda”.

Meanwhile, a video appeared on social media that purports to be a message from Nithyananda to his followers. “I will show my integrity to you by revealing the reality and truth to you. Now nobody can touch me, I can tell you the truth – I am Param Shiva. Understand? No stupid court can prosecute me for revealing the truth. I am Param Shiva,” he said in the video. Nithyananda does not however mention his current location.

The video which is around 1.45 minutes long ends with Nithyananda addressing his followers, telling them that since they supported him even as the rest of the world was against him, “I commit you, no more death for you all.”

His bizarre tale figured in the ministry of external affairs’ weekly briefing on Friday, with the spokesperson refusing to comment on the declaration of a new country by the fugitive.

“Do you really expect me to answer that question? Setting up a website is very different from creating a nation. What essentially has been done is setting up a website and he is saying that this is my nation,” said MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar.

Also read: Godman Nithyananda Flees Country After Two Disciples Held for ‘Kidnapping’

He also stated that Nithyananda had obtained a passport in October 2008, whose validity was to end in September 2018. But it was cancelled much earlier before the passport expired. “When we got information cases were pending against him, we cancelled his passport first,” said Kumar.

The self-styled godman then applied for a fresh passport, which he was denied due to an adverse police report.

However, Kumar did not directly answer the question on how Nithyananda managed to leave the country without a valid Indian passport. He only stated that MEA has informed Indians missions and posts about the various cases pending against Nithyananda in India. “We have asked them to sensitise the local governments that in case he transits, or he is in that country, they should let us know,” said Kumar.

He also refused to speculate on the current whereabouts of the fugitive.

The MEA spokesperson stated that no Indian agencies have so far made an requests to the foreign ministry to initiate extradition of Nithyananda. “We can only act based on inputs we receive from different agencies. We have not received such requests. We can take action once that comes to us,” he said.