• Thursday, July 25, 2024

Diaspora

Ex-disciples sue UK Hindu priest over rape, deception over decades

Rajinder Kalia, 68, denied the allegations and said it was a conspiracy of the claimants as he was being sued for up to £8 million.

(Representational image: iStock)

By: Shubham Ghosh

A HINDU priest in the UK has been sued for up to £8 million for allegedly portraying himself as ‘God on Earth’ to defraud and sexually assault his followers.

According to a report by Daily Mail, Rajinder Kalia, 68, reportedly claimed the ability to cure illness and showcased ‘parlour tricks’ in videos to create the illusion of performing miracles, such as extracting blood from lemons and igniting water.

He is accused of wielding ‘undue influence’ by sexually assaulting four women, three of whom since childhood, over a span of decades.

Besides, Kalia, who is married, stands accused of coercing three ‘victims’ into unpaid labour and compelling them to hand over significant sums of money, the report added.

His former disciples have now challenged him at London’s High Court. According to them, Kalia ‘flamboyantly’ donated £2,500 to West Midlands Police and that the officers dropped the case after they brought allegations of rape against him. The police was also accused of investigating several of the complainants on false charges of child abuse.

Formerly a clerk and draper, Kalia has denied any wrongdoing, and put the blame on ‘a conspiracy between the claimants’, the Daily Mail report added.

During proceedings this week, the court heard that Kalia purportedly saw a miraculous recovery following a motorcycle accident in his youth during his days in India and it happened following his visit to Himachal Pradesh, an area linked with Baba Balak Nath, a Hindu god.

He arrived in England at the age of 21 and established his own Baba Balak Nath temple in Coventry in 1986.

Barrister Mark Jones, who represented the seven claimants, told the judge, “This is an unusual case, where the claimants allege to have been wholly subject to the charismatic and forceful personality of Mr Kalia over decades.

“He portrayed himself as an incarnation of God through the purported performance of miracles. The claimants’ ability freely to consent to his demands for financial and sexual benefits was overridden. They were incapable of resisting.”

One of the alleged victims, a 57-year-old woman who was not named for legal reasons, joined the temple as a single mother and was attending three sermons a week in the evening. She was in a vulnerable state last week as she recalled her experience, saying Kalia told her he was ‘omnipotent and omnipresent’ and would decide whether she would land in Hell.

She also claimed that he allegedly pressurised her to face ‘non-consensual penetrative sexual activity on a minimum of 1,320 occasions’ over more than two decades of abuse. He even told her his ‘abhorrent’ sexual perversions were ‘akin to relations enjoyed by Hindu deity Krishna’.

Another woman, aged 48, said the accused started abusing her when she was only 13 and took her virginity when she was 21, at a hotel at Stratford-upon-Avon that he had asked her to book. She also said that when she approached the police, Kali’s disciples ‘threatened her with acid attacks’ and she was wrongly arrested on charges of child abuse.

Another, a 37-year-old woman, said she was forced to play drums at services till her hand started bleeding and was groped at the age of 13 and had her virginity forcibly taken. It was also said that she feared her words would not be believed if she alleged that ‘God’ had raped her.

According to one claimant, Kalia asked her to leave her husband and that he even made “an absurd demand [and] that in her thrall she paid £5,000 to cure her dog’s cancer”.

Kalia lives in a gated mansion in Ryton-on-Dunsmore, Warwickshire, worth £1.1million with his wife Sachitra, 67. Sarah Crowther KC, his barrister, told the court he never made claims to have ‘divine power’.

“The defendant denies all the allegations. They are fundamentally dishonest and the product of a conspiracy to extort Mr Kalia,” she said, according to the report.

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