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Case against yoga centre
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Case against yoga centre after woman alleges torture

Following the complaint from the woman that she was physically assaulted at the centre, police on Monday registered a case against the institute, its yoga guru Manoj and his associates.

Written by Shaju Philip | Thiruvananthapuram | Published:September 26, 2017 4:37 am http://indianexpress.com/article/india/case-against-yoga-centre-after-woman-alleges-torture-kerala-4861248/

yoga centre, kerala, kochi, yoga centre tortures woman, inter religious marriage, kerala news, indian expressFollowing the complaint from the woman that she was physically assaulted at the centre, police on Monday registered a case against the institute, its yoga guru Manoj and his associates.

Police have filed a case against a yoga centre near Kochi after a Hindu woman, who “married” a Christian youth, raised allegations of torture at the institute. The centre, Arsha Vidhya Samajam alias Yoga and Charitable Trust at Tripunithura near Kochi, has been engaged in bringing women back into the Hindu fold after they had converted to other religions.

Following the complaint from Swetha Haridas, 28, that she was physically assaulted at the centre, police on Monday registered a case against the institute, its yoga guru Manoj and his associates.

According to Swetha, she was tortured “by Hindu fundamentalists to take her away from her marriage with a Christian, Rinto Issac. When I objected and tried to escape from the illegal confinement, they tortured me. The centre head, Manoj Guruji, threatened that if I went with Rinto, they would kill him. There were 65 persons who were in detention at the centre. The inmates were injected with hatred of Islam and Christianity.” They were also subjected to sexual abuse, she alleged.

Thrikkakara assistant police commissioner P P Shams said they had registered a case based on the complaint. “It is a yoga and counselling centre, which has 45 inmates. We are looking into details. The institute hasn’t faced any case in the recent past,’’ he said.

The Congress-led Udayamperur village panchayat served notice a seeking immediate closure of the centre. It has no licence from the local body or the health department, said a panchayat official.

The yoga centre counsellor, Sruthi, said the allegations of torture and sexual abuse were baseless. “Swetha attended the counselling programme and left last month after staying here for 22 days. We are wondering why she has come out with an allegation now. She had faced depression. Hence, she attended yoga and counselling. So far, none of the inmates has raised any complaint against the centre,’’ she said.

Apart from yoga and counselling, the centre imparts classes on religion.

Swetha’s mother Ranjini said the allegations against the institute were baseless. “I stayed with my daughter throughout the counselling programme, but did not notice any such issue as alleged by my daughter. There is some other agenda behind this allegation,’’ she said.

Ranjini said Swetha had an arranged marriage with a Hindu youth last year, but it lasted only a month. After that she had left with Rinto, a Christian from Thrissur, who she had met while practising as an ayurvedic doctor in that district.

 

“We are against the marriage with Rinto, not because he is a Christian. He is not educated and doesn’t have a job. We took her to the yoga centre expecting that the counselling would change her approach,’’ said Ranjini.

She said her daughter had left home last week and now claimed she married Rinto.

Another woman, 23-year-old Athira who had embraced Islam, last week returned to Hinduism after attending a two-month counselling session at the VHP-backed centre, which is a sister concern of Hindu Helpline, meant for Hindus in distress.



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Police begin probe against yoga centre



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Complaint against Yoga centre; one arrested
 

         Posted on :22:32:58 Sep 25, 2017

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The police have arrested one person  from the yoga centre at Udayampur Kandanad based on a complaint given by a girl that she was held captive and abused in order to break up her marriage with a person from outside her religion.

Fifth accused and the proprietor of the Yoga centre Sreerajan was arrested on Monday by Udayamperur police based on the complaint given by the Kannur Payyannur native girl.  

The girl, an Ayurveda doctor, was allegedly taken to the yoga centre by her brother in law after her inter-religious marriage. After this the girl was locked up in this centre for about one month and abused. The police have filed a case against the yoga centre director Manoj alias Guruji , his aide Sreejesh, brother in law Manu, trainers Suijith, Sumitha and Lakshmy. As soon as the case was filed, Manoj went into hiding.

Police said there could be arrest tomorrow also in connection with the case.



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Udayamperoor: Stop memo on yoga centre:

DECCAN CHRONICLE.
PublishedSep 26, 2017, 1:18 am IST
UpdatedSep 26, 2017, 1:18 am IST
After woman inmate’s plaint alleging torture.
The police had registered a case against five persons running the centre in this regard.
  The police had registered a case against five persons running the centre in this regard.

KOCHI: The Udayamperoor panchayat on Monday issued a stop memo on the Siva Sakthi Yoga Centre that was functioning at a two-storey residential property at Kandanad under the panchayat. This is following a complaint filed by a woman inmate of the centre with the Udayamperoor police alleging that she was illegally detained and subjected to physical torture.  The police had registered a case against five persons running the centre in this regard.

According to the police, the woman hailing from Kannur claimed that she was under detention for nearly a month after her relatives took her to the  centre. The woman, who married a youth from another religion, was purportedly admitted to the yoga centre by her relatives to prevent her converting to her husband’s religion. The police registered a case against  Manoj,  director of the yoga centre, Sujith belonging to Perumbalam and Smitha, Lekshmi  and Sreejesh whose whereabouts are not known. All of them are absconding, police said.

 
 

They were charged  under IPC sections 120 (B), 323, 354, 357, 366, 342, 403, 506 and 34 for  wrongful confinement, kidnapping, outraging modesty, criminal intimidation and misappropriation of property. There are a total of 35 inmates  who have been staying there for some time while ten people are employed for managing it, according to Udayamperoor panchayat president  John Jacob. According to the police, no other person except the Kannur native had filed complaints.  The centre has not been closed down since the inmates have sought time to leave it.   It is under police protection now. Mr John Jacob said that the inmates are mostly teenagers, majority of them  girls. “The yoga centre was functioning without  obtaining any licence and hence a stop memo was issued on it,” he added.



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By Team Asianet Newsable | 02:45 PM September 25, 2017
 
Athira denies torture allegations after police action against Yoga Centre

Highlights

  • A woman had filed a police complaint and moved High Court against the Yoga Centre
  • On inquiry, it was found that the Centre was functioning without license 
  • Meanwhile, Athira who returned to Hinduism denied the allegations against the Centre
 
 

Kerala police have closed down the Yoga Centre following a complaint that women, who had converted from Hinduism, were being tortured here for returning to their original faith. The police along with panchayat officials took the decision after it was found that the centre was functioning without a license. 

 

A woman from Kannur had filed a police complaint that as many as 65 women, who had converted from Hinduism, were held captive and tortured at the centre.

A counselling centre under the name Arsha Vidya Samajam was also functioning at the place. 

Also read: Ghar wapsi: '65 women held captive, tortured in Kochi yoga centre'

Police conducted a search at the centre following the complaint and found that as many as 25 women and 20 men were there for counselling. The cops informed that they would be sent back home with their relatives. 

Meanwhile, the complainant said that she was tortured, both mentally and physically, at the centre. She also claimed that they threatened her and asked her to kill her Christian husband. The people at the centre also threatened her showing private videos of her husband, she told Asianet News. 

While considering the Habeas Corpus petition, the High Court asked whether such centres aim to create more godmen like Ram Rahim. 

Meanwhile, Athira, the girl who returned to Hinduism after converting to Islam confirmed that she was there at the Yoga Centre at Kochi. However, she denied allegations of torture and said that people at the Centre were very friendly to her. 

Watch her video


 

 


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RSS-CPM rivalry in Kerala gets new ammunition: Yoga centre found to be a front for forcible 'Ghar Wapsi' conversions

Left parties in Kerala had expressed apprehension when Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought to promote yoga in all facets of life soon after assuming power in 2014. Their fears seem to have come true, after a yoga centre in Ernakulam district was allegedly found to be involved in the controversial 'Ghar Wapsi' programme.

The police has registered a case against Sivasakthi Yogavidya Kendram in Kandanadu under various sections of the Indian Penal Code following a complaint registered by a 28-year-old Hindu woman who married a Christian man. The woman claimed that she was detained at the centre for 22 days and was subjected to physical and mental torture demanding she return to her original faith.

The police have booked Manoj, the director of the yoga centre, and four others under various charges, including wrongful confinement, kidnapping and outraging the modesty of a woman. Sreejesh, a close associate of Manoj, has also been arrested while four others are absconding, according to the police.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

According to its Facebook page, the centre was established as a wing of Vijnana Bharathi, an important arm of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), with the mission of bestowing health and harmony to the mind, body and soul. However, Swetha Haridas, who escaped from the centre on 21 August, said that it was actually an anti-conversion clinic for Hindus involved in interfaith marriages or those who had converted to Christianity or Islam.

While considering a habeas corpus petition filed by her husband Rinto Isac, the Kerala High Court remarked whether it was a Dera Sacha Sauda in the southern state.

In an affidavit filed in the court, Swetha, an ayurvedic doctor from the northern district of Kannur, said she saw 65 people, including 59 women, trapped at the centre. She alleged that the inmates were subjected to physical assault and even sexual abuse.

Swetha, who married Rinto, a photographer from Thrissur district in November 2016, said she was tricked into the "yoga centre" by her parents under the guise of a three-day session. They took her to the centre when she went to Muvattupuzha on 28 July for her sister's house warming ceremony.

In addition to yoga, she said she was also subjected to counselling that focused on the complications of inter-religious marriages and the problems such couples would face. When she did not change her mind even after three days of counselling, the officials changed their tone and started threatening her to either abandon her husband or get him converted to Hinduism if she insisted on living with him.

When Swetha tried to run away from the place, she was locked inside a room in the centre and was physically and mentally harassed. She said she was also beaten up by the staff members when she refused to abide by their order. Swetha was allowed to go only after she promised to get her husband converted to Hinduism.

She said there were 59 women like her at the centre, who had either converted to other religions or had married outside the community. Her affidavit said the inmates were barred from interacting with each other and were tortured until they agreed to change their mind.

The programme at the centre consisted of open and private sessions, according to Swetha. While the open sessions focus on yoga, prayers and classes on different religious teachings, the instructors demonise Bible and Quran in the private sessions and force the converts to return to their original faith, Swetha said.

Athira, a 23-year-old girl, who returned to Hinduism after having embraced Islam of her own free will, was present at the centre, a few days ahead of her scheduled "ghar wapsi". Athira, who hails from Kasargod, denied Swetha's allegations. "None of the inmates were physically or mentally harassed at the Sivasakthi yoga centre, nor was anyone brainwashed. They treated me with love and care. They asked me only to re-read the Quran with an open mind. After doing so, I realised that my understanding of Islam was not correct," Athira told a press meet at Ernakulam.

However, the high court has found merit in Swetha's allegations. After directly hearing her out on Tuesday, a division bench by chief justice described her revelations as "shocking" and directed the police to conduct an investigation and submit a report.

Following the hearing, the court also directed that the state police chief, district police chief, Hill Palace circle inspector and the Udayamperoor sub-inspector be made parties in the case. Further hearing in the case has been scheduled for 10 October.

The Udayamperoor police has confirmed Swetha's allegation that she was detained and tortured at the centre for nearly a month. A member of the investigating team told Firstpostthat their preliminary investigation had revealed that the allegations were prima facie true.

He said that some inmates had told the police that they had seen Swetha being thrashed by three women staffers of the centre. Sreejesh, a senior staff member who was arrested, was also present at the centre when the assault happened, the police officer, who did not want to be identified, said.

The Udayamperoor gram panchayat has also served a close memo on the centre. Following this, most of the inmates have gone back. Five inmates, who came from other states, are waiting for their parents to take them back home.

A senior Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader from Ernakulam said that the news reports regarding the yoga centre had vindicated the party's charge that the Sangh Parivar was misusing yoga to further its Hindutva agenda.

Terming yoga as just a "physical exercise", the CPM tried to counter the Sangh's attempt to hijack the discipline, by organising a de-Hinduised version of it under the aegis of the CPM-backed Indian Martial Arts Academy and Yoga Study Centre, and by making yoga a part of the school curriculum.

The party had staged a massive demonstration in Kannur, where CPM and RSS cadres are engaged in a bloody battle for supremacy, as part of its campaign in January last year. Over 1,200 yoga practitioners, mostly party cadres, took part in the demonstration.

The last International Yoga Day on 21 June touched controversy when Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan called for practicing yoga in a "secular frame of mind", and Health Minister KK Shylaja refused to recite the Sanskrit shloka during a yoga session in the state capital.

The BJP had termed these as an insult to India's spiritual wisdom and its revered saints. Party state president Kummanam Rajashekharan pointed out that by calling yoga a "secular" exercise, the CM had exposed his ignorance and lack of scientific knowledge.


 

Published Date: Sep 27, 2017 09:14 pm | Updated Date: Sep 27, 2017 09:15 pm



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 Women tortured at yoga centre

 

TNN | Sep 26, 2017, 13:57 IST

 
 

60839567.jpg

TRIPUNITHURA: The Women India Movement (WIM), women's wing of Social Democratic Party of India(SDPI) has alleged that Shivashakti Charitable Trust, Tripunithura, has been carrying out atrocities against Hindu women who have married outside their religion, as part of a planned `Ghar Wapsi' campaign.

WIM state president K K Raihanath alleged that recently a woman named Athira, who recently converted back to Hinduism after embracing Islam, was living at the yoga centre, Shivashakthi Yoga Vidya Kendra at Kandanadu, Tripunithura, run by the trust and she converted due to the pressure from the institution. "The inmates are being subjected to physical and mental harassment at the institution.There is a torture room on the trust premises, " she alleged.

She said a petition filed by one Dr Shweta before the high court stated that women who appraoch the centre for counselling have faced atrocities including sexual harassment during the sessions. The aim of the institution is to bring the women back to the Hindu fold. "The petition states that around 65 women living in the yoga centre were subjected to sexual harassment, " she said.

Meanwhile, Udayamperoor police have received a complaint from a woman, a Kannur native, against the yoga centre. As per the complaint , the woman, who is an advocate, was detained at the centre for nearly a month. The woman was married to a man belonging to a different religion and she was taken to the centre by her brother-in-law (sister's husband) Manu. The complaint also said that yoga master Manoj alias Guruji and his aides Sreejesh, Sujith, Sumitha and Lakshmi forced her to return to Hindu religion.

Following the complaint, Udayamperoor panchayat has issued closure notice to the yoga centre. "We have issued closure notice as it doesn't have licence issued by the panchayat, " said panchayat president John Jacob.

It has been functioning in a residential building and more than 45 inmates are living in congestion. "We have got many complaints against the centre including missing cases of inmates, " the panchayat president noted.
However, neighbours have never noticed anything unusual about the institution. "We never heard any cries or screams. The inmates and tutors often celebrate special occasions like Independence Day and other festivals, " said Biju, who lives next door. "They impart training in yoga and also offer counselling to inmates who were brought by their parents, " said Anilkumar, another resident of the area.
 

 

By Monday afternoon, parents of most of the inmates arrived to take them back home.Now just five or six inmates are at the centre,which is under police protection.
 

 

"Earlier we got an anonymous complaint against the centre. The complaint filed by the Kannur native is a genuine one, " said P S Shiju, Tripunithura circle inspector.
 

 

On Monday morning, Youth Congress activists took out a protest march to the yoga centre, which was stopped by the police.
 

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‘Doctor thrashed at yoga centre’

 

tnn | Updated: Sep 27, 2017, 13:28 IST

 
 

60853412.jpg

KOCHI: Police have recorded witness accounts that a 28-year-old woman, who had married outside her religion, was physically assaulted at a yoga centre in Tripunithura, demanding her to call off her marriage.

Other inmates of Shiva Shakti Yoga Vidya Kendra, however, had not lodged any complaints, police said on Tuesday.

"The woman's parents made her join the institution and her mother had even stayed there for a couple of days. After preliminary investigations, we have recorded the statements of those who had seen her getting thrashed by women staffers of the centre. Sreejesh, who was arrested, was also present when she was beaten up," M P Dinesh, city police commissioner, said.

In an affidavit filed before the Kerala high court, the 28-year-old Dr Shwetha alleged that she was detained for 22 days at a yoga centre near Tripunithura and was "physically and mentally harassed" to abandon her marriage to a Christian.

"Infopark circle inspector Radhamani P K met almost all the inmates personally but no others have made any complaints," the commissioner said, adding that necessary arrangements have been made to be in contact with the inmates and also to ensure their safety.
"Most of them left with their parents. They claimed to have joined the centre to learn Yoga," officer Radhamani said.
 

 

Police sources said various reasons were being cited for people to seek help of the centre. "Some of them were given drug de-addiction counselling and in case of some others, to overcome psychological problems," another officer said.
 

 

Officers said no statements were received against Manoj alias Guruji.
 

 

"There are no statements against Manoj. However, he might have concurred with the accused as he was running the institution," an investigator said.While the owners of the building had evicted them, a few inmates were still there and arrangements were being made to send them back to their families. Meanwhile, a video, purportedly of Dr Shwetha in a happy mood at the centre, was being circulated. The woman said she had convinced the centre that she would return to the Hindu fold in order to escape.
 

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