Mar 3, 2023

Nithyananda's Kailasa: UN to ignore remarks of fugitive India guru's fictional country

Meryl Sebastian
BBC News
March 2, 2023

The UN has said it will ignore statements made by the representatives of a fugitive Indian guru's fictional country at two official events.

People representing United States of Kailasa had attended two UN committee meetings in Geneva in February.

A UN official said their submissions were "irrelevant" and "tangential" to the issues being discussed.

Self-styled guru Nithyananda is wanted in India in several cases, including rape and sexual assault.

Nithyananda, who claims he founded the United States of Kailasa (USK) in 2019, has denied the allegations against him.

USK's appearance at the UN events last week had made headlines in India. The Indian government hasn't publicly commented on the matter yet.

A UN official told the BBC in an email that "USK representatives attended two UN public meetings in Geneva in February".

The first was a discussion on the representation of women in decision-making systems, organised by the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) on 22 February. USK representatives also participated in a second discussion on sustainable development, hosted by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR), on 24 February.

These general discussions are public meetings open to anyone who is interested, said Vivian Kwok, a media officer at the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, which oversees the two committees.

Ms Kwok said USK's written submission to CEDAW would not be included in their report as it was "irrelevant to the topic of the general discussion".

She also said that a statement made by a USK representative at the second discussion would not be taken into consideration as its focus "was tangential to the topic at hand".

A video on the UN website of the second session shows that when questions are invited from attendees, a woman introduces herself as Vijayapriya Nithyananda, "the permanent ambassador of the United States of Kailasa" and says she wants to ask a question about "indigenous rights and sustainable development".

She describes USK as the "first sovereign state for Hindus" established by Nithyananda, the "supreme pontiff of Hinduism". She also claims that USK has been "successful with sustainable development" because it provided necessities such as food, shelter and medical care for free to all its citizens. Her question is regarding what measures can be put in place to "stop the persecution" of Nithyananda and the people of Kailasa.

Others who asked questions at the discussion included a representative of an organisation called One Ocean Hub and a lecturer at Essex University.

Former Indian diplomat Preeti Saran, who holds the Asia Pacific seat at CESCR, was among the attendees at the discussion. The BBC has emailed her for comment.

Nithyananda, who was facing charges of rape, fled India in 2019. A female disciple had accused him of rape in 2010, after which he was briefly arrested before getting bail. He was charged in court in 2018.

Days before he left the country, a separate police complaint had also accused him of kidnapping and confining children at his ashram in the western state of Gujarat.

It's unclear where he escaped to and how he reached there.

That same year, he claimed to have bought an island off the coast of Ecuador and founded a new country called Kailasa, named after a mountain in the Himalayas that is considered the abode of the Hindu god Shiva.

At the time, Ecuador denied that he was in the country, and said that "Nithyananda has not been given asylum by Ecuador or has been helped by the government of Ecuador".

Nithyananda has not made any public appearances since 2019, though videos of his sermons are regularly released on his social media channels. The Guardian reported last year that Nithyananda's UK representative had attended "a glamorous Diwali party at the House of Lords" on the invitation of two Conservative members.

News of the UN event began circulating on Indian social media after Nithyananda's Twitter account tweeted a photo of Vijayapriya Nithyananda.

A tweet thread later appeared to introduce USK's ambassadors to different parts of the world, including the UK, Canada and the Caribbean.

According to its website, Kailasa counts "two billion practising Hindus" among its population. It also claims to have a flag, a constitution, a central bank, a passport and an emblem.

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