Indian 'guru' faces charges of fraud, drugs and rape

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A spiritual guru known as "Swami Amritachaitanya" is being held in Kerala, India on charges of fraud, rape and possession of narcotic drugs. Swami Amritachaitanya, whose real name is Santosh Madhavan, was arrested by Interpol in March on criminal charges in a police raid at his 16-suite ashram in Kochi, India following multiple police complaints against him. Indians living in Bahrain have recently come forward and filed a case against Madhavan in India on allegations of fraudulent practices related to his supposed charity activities.

Kochi, India
Image: Boby George.

Twenty Indians living in Bahrain filed a case against 35-year old Madhavan on Tuesday. They claim they were victims of a scam after Madhavan convinced them to invest in a charitable organization and tourist resort, but allegedly kept the money for himself. Madhavan arrived in Bahrain in 2005.

He was very convincing about his charity activities as well as the resort.

—Jaya Kumar

"Twenty of us have e-mailed a complaint to the Inspector General and Commissioner of Ernakulam police as well as Kerala Home Minister," said complainant Jaya Kumar in a statement to the Gulf Daily News. Ernakulam is a district in the state of Kerala in India. "He was very convincing about his charity activities as well as the resort," said Kumar, a purchasing officer at a company in Bahrain.

Police began an investigation into Madhavan in April after a woman filed a complaint alleging he had promised to start a business with her after a meeting in Dubai, but she said he disappeared after she gave him the money. Serafin Edwin traveled to the capital of Kerala, Thiruvananthapuram, last week from her residence in Dubai, in order to give testimony against Madhavan. She was greeted at the international airport by police, and is under police protection due to concerns for her safety. Her family members told Khaleej Times that she feared physical harm from Madhavan or his henchmen. Interpol has been investigating Madhavan in allegations related to his business dealings with Serafin Edwin since 2004. "I am happy that the police finally caught up with him and he is in prison. He is a big fraud and everything that comes out of his mouth is a lie," said Serafin Edwin in a statement to the United Arab Emirates paper The National.

Madhavan was arrested by Interpol police after multiple underage girls went to law enforcement with allegations of rape and sexual abuse. According to Press Trust of India, police in India received complaints from three underage girls alleging he had raped them. The Times reported that Madhavan is accused of making pornographic movies with underage girls, sexual assault, rape, fraud and possession of narcotics. A police raid of Madhavan's four-story mansion in India uncovered drugs, a police uniform, a pelt from an endangered tiger and pornographic DVDs. Gulf Daily News reported that Madhavan was arrested in Kerala in conjunction with an Interpol "red alert", which was issued after consultation with Dubai police in 2004.

We are not against genuine spiritual leaders. But we won’t allow illegal activities under the guise of spirituality.

Kodiyeri Balakrishnan

Self styled "godmen" and "gurus" are under increased observation by police in India following the arrest of Madhavan, and police are specifically investigating their sources of wealth and possible fraud. "We are not against genuine spiritual leaders. But we won’t allow illegal activities under the guise of spirituality," said Kerala home minister Kodiyeri Balakrishnan in a statement to Howrah News Service.

G. Sudhakaran, Kerala's minister for temples, presented a different viewpoint in a statement to The Times. "They’re conducting all kinds of criminal and material activities behind their spiritual exteriors. Ninety per cent of them are fake and criminals. There are so many swamis who have enlightened the hearts and minds of people, but these people are fakes with no idea about spirituality. They are only interested in women and money and muscle power," said Sudhakaran. Many Hindus were upset by Sudhakaran's words, as some devout Hindus consider swamis to be above the law and should not be criticized.


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