Indian police probes 'godman' for allegedly carrying out castrations on 400 followers
Indian police said they are investigating a popular self-styled "godman" for allegedly encouraging 400 followers to undergo castrations at his ashram so they could get closer to God.
The country’s top crime fighting agency has registered a case against Gurmeet Ram Rahim, known as the "guru in bling" for his penchant for garish clothes and jewellery, over the operations in the country’s north.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) said in a statement late on Wednesday (Jan 7) that Rahim is being investigated for criminal intimidation and causing grievous bodily hurt, saying 400 castrations were allegedly carried out.
The 47-year-old guru, who is based in the northern Indian state of Haryana, is already facing trial for conspiracy over the murder of a journalist in 2002 along with claims of sexually exploiting female followers.
The latest case was filed after one of his devotees, Mr Hans Raj Chauhan, lodged a complaint in court alleging he was manipulated into having the "painful" operation at the ashram.
"They were told that only those who get castrated will be able to meet God," Mr Chauhan’s lawyer, Navkiran Singh, told AFP on Thursday (Jan 8).
"We will put all the facts of the case to the court and seek compensation for the victims."
He said doctors carried out the castrations over a period from 2000, but for years his client had been too scared to come forward.
The court asked the CBI to undergo an investigation into the alleged castrations.
Rahim could not immediately be contacted for comment.