ISKCON swamis face warrant in ‘false’ rape case
A magistrate court in Kolkata has issued arrest warrants against top swamis and office-bearers of International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in a case of criminal defamation and conspiracy. Rajesh Ahuja reports.delhi Updated: Jan 02, 2012 01:40 IST
A magistrate court in Kolkata has issued arrest warrants against top swamis and office-bearers of International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON) in a case of criminal defamation and conspiracy.
One of the seven accused, Jay Pataka Swami, is a member of ISKCON’s top decision-making organ. All of them have been asked to appear before court on January 10.
The case is more than 11 years old. Basanti Devi, an accused, alleged in the year 2000 an ISKCON devotee by the name Sureswara Das had “raped” her. The Kolkata police arrested the alleged rapist, who was sent to judicial custody.
While in custody, he committed suicide, also in 2000, holding all the accused in the present case responsible for his death. Subsequent police investigations absolved the deceased of all charges.
“It was a deep-rooted conspiracy. After the demise of ISKCON founder Acharya Srila Prabhupada in 1979, a few of his top disciples proclaimed themselves guru. Sureswara was implicated in the false rape case because he opposed the idea,” said Anil Sarkar, the brother of Sureswara, for whom ‘Das’ was an adopted title. In 2008, after getting up resources to fight the case, Anil Sarkar moved court with a plea to initiate proceedings against the accused. However, the Calcutta high court modified the charges against them and limited the proceedings under criminal defamation and conspiracy. During the last hearing, the accused were not present in the court.
“We didn’t know about the proceedings, and will present ourselves before the court. The case is false and motivated,” said Dayaram Das, another accused who is president of ISKCON’s Kolkata chapter.