US-based yoga guru Bikram Chowdhury, accused of violating safety norms at his school visited by the likes of Salma Hayek, Venus and Serena Williams and Madonna, has threatened to slap a $10 million damage suit against Los Angeles city and the district attorney's office.
"If they don't settle everything right now I will file a damage suit of $10 million. They should seek an apology or else they would be in big trouble. I have lots of reasons to sue them," Chowdhury, who is visiting his mother in India, said.
Los Angeles city attorney Rocky Delgadillo has charged him with 10 criminal safety violations, including violations of fire and safety exit rules and guidelines and cramming people into overcrowded rooms at his La Cienega Boulevard studio in the Bikram School of Yoga.
"They (the LA district attorney's office) should apologise and compensate. The move, I have reasons to believe, is driven by the vindictive attitude of an individual," said the 60-year-old Chowdhury who has kept in good shape some of Beverly Hills' most celebrated residents.
"John Kelly, whom I have not met, is one of the supervisors of the Building Safety Department of LA. He may be taking revenge for the firing of his brother-in-law who did not do his duty years ago when he was supposed to check the safety norms in my facility," Chowdhury said.
"The place in contention (40,000 sq ft) was developed by me in stages to accommodate growing number of pupils, but I had to break down a bathroom four times costing $800,000. Still, they brought 42 citations against me last month. I have cleared those minor inconsequential charges immediately."
He said he had already complained to the mayor of LA, who wanted know why the building was not checked properly for safety norms.
"I am being harassed for the past five-and-a-half years by the LA authorities. So I have decided to set up my yoga university in a hotel in Honolulu that is offering me 25,000 square feet of space. I am not moving out of LA where I am setting up more yoga schools."
Choudhury began teaching yoga in California in the early 1970s and later went on to become a cult figure with high-profile clients from the world of Hollywood, music, sports and US politics.
Known for his friendship with Michael Jackson, he has also claimed that the pop star had given him his ranch Neverland for setting up a retirement home and healing centre.
Choudhury, who founded the worldwide Yoga College of India, was born in Kolkata in 1946.
He began yoga at the age of four with India's most renowned physical culturist at that time Bishnu Ghosh, the younger brother of Paramahansa Yogananda (author of the most popular book on yoga, "The Autobiography of a Yogi", and founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship in LA).