An Indian guru wanted in his homeland on charges of sexual assault and the confinement of children has announced he is setting up his own country, the Republic of Kailaasa, reportedly on an island off the coast of Ecuador.
Swami Nityananda, 41, vowed it would be the "world’s greatest and purest Hindu nation" in an address to his 188,000 YouTube subscribers on Wednesday.
The self-styled Hindu ‘godman’ has gained an avid following in southern India after claiming to be personally able to see through walls, scan through human bodies and observe events happening in locations he is not physically present.
He also claims to have cured 82 children of blindness and to be able to communicate with cows, considered holy animals in Hinduism.
He has also faced a succession of criminal allegations.
Though not convicted, Nithyananda first made national headlines in 2010 after he was arrested and jailed for 53 days over a sex scandal involving him and a regional actress.
Other women have come forward to allege he abused them in Karnataka at one of the ten to 15 ashrams he is said to own.
Police say they were unable to locate him for a year but local media reports he fled to Ecuador via Nepal last month after police in the state of Gujarat brought another case against him, claiming he locked up children and forced them to collect donations for his ashrams.
Nithyananda has also previously faced a summons from a US court over a sexual harassment case.
In a now-viral video he claimed his ‘cosmic country’ had been purchased by some of his wealthier followers and that practising Hindus are welcome to emigrate there, although Nithyananda will have the final say on whether they receive citizenship.
His website has described Kailaasa as "a nation without borders created by dispossessed Hindus from around the world who lost the right to practice Hinduism authentically in their own countries."
In the broadcast, Nithyananda also revealed his prospective nation’s flag and said Tamil, Sanskrit and English would be its official languages.
He has vowed to provide free education, food and healthcare to those who emigrate and will set up its own government and economy, run on cryptocurrency.
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