Self-styled godman Shivananda Swami held

Kathmandu, January 13

Police have arrested a self-styled godman Shivananda Swami for his alleged involvement in fraud.

Deepak Bhandari, 29, aka Shivananda Swami, was arrested from one of his religious camps in Sitapaila today, according to police.

Metropolitan Police Crime Division, Teku, had deployed a special team after receiving complaints against him regarding the fraudulent activities he had been engaged in, in the guise of a swami.

Bhandari is accused of swindling millions from four of his followers on the pretext of sending them to the Czech Republic and Dubai for jobs.

Senior Superintendent of Police Sahakul Bahadur Thapa, head of MPCD, said, Bhandari used to collect money from his followers stating that he had been asked by some foreigner entrepreneurs to send Nepalis to their firms for work.

Bhandari, a permanent resident of Chatrakot Municipality, Gulmi, used to conduct Yoga classes in his camps apart from delivering sermons.

According to police, three of his followers — Tikaraj Pothak, Sanjeev Kumar Rai and Krishna Prasad Baral — have accused the godman of swindling Rs 1.8 million from them on the pretext of sending them to the Czech Republic. Another follower, Srijana Ghimire, has been swindled of Rs 80,000 on the pretext of sending her to Dubai on a visit visa.

Police said that although Bhandari was too young to become a religious leader, he had a large number of followers.

“He is a revered personality for many of his followers and many people bring their ailing children to his religious camps seeking his blessings, which they believe can cure their ailments,” said SSP Thapa.