Indian police are asking Interpol to issue an international arrest warrant for the Hindu swami Nithyananda, whose followers claim has purchased an island off the Ecuadorian coast.
Nithyananda, who calls himself a “godman,” is wanted on rape and child kidnapping charges but has missed several court dates since posting bond in 2012.
Nithyananda appeared on a Youtube video Tuesday night, delivering a discourse on his version of Hinduism from what he said was his newly formed island nation of Kailaasa. On its website, Kailaasa displays its own flag and national emblem and claims to have an operating Hindu government that welcomes “homeless Hindus from around the world.”
It is unclear, however, where Kailaasa is actually located. First police reports said the island was purchased from the government of Ecuador and was in the Caribbean Ocean near Trinidad and Tobago, a country known for its large population of Indians. Later, police said that new information put Kailaasa in the Pacific Ocean, off the coast of Ecuador.
Police are investigating how Nithyananda managed to flee India since his passport had expired and his name was on a “no travel” list. Nithyananda says he traveled on his Kailaasa passport.
Even before the rape and kidnapping charges were filed, Nithyananda was a controversial figure in India. Many Hindu clerics called him a fraud, saying his message bore little relationship to traditional Hinduism and said much of his teaching was “pseudoscience.” Among his claims are that he can delay a sunrise by 40 minutes and make cows speak in Tamil and Sanskrit, although not English.
According to devotees, Nithyananda has 50,000 followers in India and even more in the U.S., where he visited on numerous occasions.
According to the India Today news organization, Ecuador’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it has sold none of its islands, most of which are located in the Galapagos archipelago, and has none for sale.