The case of four young girls allegedly held hostage in Nithyananda Ashram has opened a can of worms with the spotlight now on other such allegations that were made public by former followers of the rape-accused. A video by Sarah Stephanie Landry, a former teacher in his ashram in Toronto, Canada, has raised questions about why the Bidadi police did not raid the premises to free the minors. Sarah, who was associated with the rape-accused Nithyananda for several years under the name Sri Nithya Swaroopa Priyananda, has made claims that she was disillusioned after two children, aged 13 confided in her that they were being subjected to atrocities, ranging from sleep deprivation and physical abuse in the Ashram.
Sarah has been posting videos on social media, narrating the harrowing stories children in his ashram have been reportedly subjected to. In one video, dated 16th September 2019, she says, "I was one of the teachers who taught the kids on a regular basis and that is when they developed a personal relationship with me. I had the approval to speak to all the kids and I taught them about social media including things like how to use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. One day, a boy who was 13 years old and the girl around the same age came to me in the night and had an emotional breakdown."
Several children from the ashram were reportedly flown across the world to interact with potential devotees and ‘foresee their future using special powers’. The kids allegedly were instructed to ask many in their audience to donate their wealth and life to the Nithyananda Ashram.
During one such session, Sarah says, "The 13-year-old girl told me that in their school (Gurukul), kids were subjected to starvation, sleep deprivation and they weren't even allowed to go to the bathroom unless they are expressed certain fake powers. She told me the reason she was saying all these things to me now was that she was afraid to go back to the Bidadi Ashram because she was going to get beaten up again."
Sarah has chronicled the chilling details the children disclosed to her regarding the ordeal they were subjected to inside the Bidadi Ashram. Sarah says a young girl told her, "On December 31st 2018 morning, the Gurukul head stormed into the dormitory with a stick and asked a girl to beat up every other child there till they bled or cried. Some of the kids had black eyes, some were bruised and battered. And the girl who was made to beat others was crying the hardest when she was forced to beat her friends. After the beating, they weren't allowed to leave the dorm for days and were locked up in a steel cage. This was done to make sure others in the ashram are not aware of this."
Despite this video being in public domain for several months now, the Bidadi police nor the Karnataka government has taken cognizance of the horrifying charges made by a former close associate of Nithyananda and attempted to raid the Ashram and ascertain the claims made, despite the provisions of POCSO giving them powers to do so.