Indian monk arrested in Nepal

Kathmandu, Nepal - A 40-year-old monk from India’s renowned social service organisation Bharat Sevasharm Sangha, known especially for relief work during disasters, has been arrested in Nepal after a six-year-old boy was found dead at the school-cum-ashram for destitute children in Kathmandu.

Swami Atmashuddhananda, a 40-year-old originally from Assam and based in Nepal for 15 years, was arrested Tuesday night along with four other inmates of the centre, known as the Pranavananda Ashram in Nepal after Hindu monk Swami Pranavananda, who founded the sect in 1917.

At least two of those arrested are minors.

The saffron robed monk was handcuffed Wednesday and taken to the district court where police will ask judges for permission to keep all five in custody till they complete investigations.

Rupesh Giri, a six-year-old Nepali boy, was brought to the ashram about a month ago by his mother Kavita, a 23-year-old working in a hotel in the capital.

There were about 60 students in the ashram close to Kathmandu’s famous Pashupatinath temple.

The young boy is said to have had a fight with two other students after which he was reportedly chastised by the ashram authorities.

The boy was found dead Tuesday leading to the arrests. Two of the arrested are students of the ashram.

The Indian monk looked shocked at the turn of events. “We had some lapses but no one wished him any ill,” he told IANS.

The ashram was in a state of disarray after the arrests. The main office in Kolkata received the news in stunned disbelief.

Bharat Sevashram has ashrams in the US, Britain, Canada, Fiji, Bangladesh and Nepal.

However, the increasingly bitter relation between India and Nepal have seen public distrust about Indian ashrams in Nepal grow.

Recently, another unit run in southern Nepal by Bharat Sevasharm faced a media campaign with allegations that the main official was trafficking the children when they had actually gone home during the ‘Chhat’ holidays.