Chennai: The Thiruvannamalai district administration on Friday forcibly evicted members of controversial godman Nithyananda sect from a hut on a hillock at the famous pilgrim town where his followers believe he had attained enlightenment as a teenager.
Acting on complaints from several members of the local public that the godman’s group had encroached part of the Pavizhakunnu hills in Thiruvannamalai for building an ashram, the district revenue divisional officer Uma Maheswari along with a posse of revenue and police officials raided the thatched shed in which the godman’s team had settled down and installed idols of Nithyananda, Murugan and Valli for elaborate worship sessions.
Police had to use force to evict the ‘encroachers’ as they refused to budge. The women members of the cult were engaged in a hot debate with the DRO, who stood firm in her resolve to evict them all, with their idols. The group of some 15 men in white dhotis and about 10 women in saffron clothes, was finally forced to leave the hills and return, possibly to the godman’s headquarters at Bidadi in Karnataka.
“This godman’s group was driven away when it tried to encroach the same place for putting up ashram about seven years ago. They came back now to set up this ashram 20 days back. We filed a complaint with the Tahsildar on June but there was no response. We finally approached the Collector with complaints and the evidence of encroachment. This got the revenue and police officials to descend here, dismantle the hut and get the group out”, said local CPM activist Veerabadran.
After supervising the ‘operation’, DRO Uma Maheswari told reporters, “I see this as a planned encroachment. There were no idols till yesterday, they just popped up suddenly now”.
Nithyananda is the founder of Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam. The godman got into trouble when a video showing him in compromising position with a woman actor went public through TV channels and publications in 2010. The ‘guru’ has since denied the sex scam charges and even sued the channels and publications, besides some ex-associates, for the video show.