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Nepal spiritual leader 'Buddha Boy' arrested on charges of sexual abuse, kidnapping

The 33-year-old Ram Bahadur Bomjan was arrested after he jumped from the fourth floor of his house in an attempt to escape. In 2020, a case of sexual exploitation was filed against the leader in the district court in Sarlahi, which claimed that Bomjan raped a 15-year-old nun staying at his ashram.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Kathmandu Published on: January 11, 2024 7:01 IST
Nepal, spiritual leader, Buddha Boy
Image Source : AP Nepal police arrested spiritual leader 'Buddha Boy' on Tuesday.

Nepal police have arrested controversial spiritual leader Ram Bahadur Bomjan, popularly known as 'Buddha Boy', on charges of sexual abuse and kidnapping.  Bomjan was arrested while “absconding in the case of sexual exploitation of a minor,” said the police on Wednesday, after an arrest warrant was issued against him in 2020.

Based on a tip-off, Nepal police said they tracked down the 33-year-old spiritual leader, whose followers believe him to be a reincarnation of Buddha, on the outskirts of Kathmandu as he attempted to flee, CNN reported. Police also seized over a dozen mobile phones, five laptops and tablets, and more than $200,000 in Nepali and foreign currencies at his home.

He jumped from the fourth floor of his house in an attempt to escape, authorities further informed. Police had been searching for him for the past few years on different charges, including sexual exploitation of his disciples. he is also wanted in a case pertaining to the disappearance of four disciples.

What are the charges against Bomjan?

In recent years, Bomjan has attracted several allegations of wrongdoing and police raided his ashram in 2019 to investigate the disappearance of four of his disciples. The following year, a case of sexual exploitation was filed against the leader in the district court in Sarlahi, which claimed that Bomjan raped a 15-year-old girl, who was staying in his ashram in Pattharkot, Sarlahi, as an Aani (Nun). 

The chargesheet stated that he raped the minor by luring her to his private quarters at 9.20 pm on August 4, 2016. He was also charged with threatening the girl with dire consequences if she reported the incident to others. The 18-year-old nun publicly accused him of raping her at one of his ashrams in September 2018.

Police on Wednesday said, “further investigations and searches are being conducted regarding the followers who have disappeared from Bomjan’s ashram at various times.”

Who is the 'Buddha Boy'?

Bomjan shot to international fame in 2005 at the age of 15 when he went into a jungle to pray for 10 months, according to local media reports. His followers once claimed that he did so without food, sleep or water. Some of them believed him as the reincarnation of Siddhartha Gautama, who was born in Nepal some 2,500 years ago.

He was dubbed as 'Buddha Boy', a moniker that further increased his fame as thousands of people from across Nepal and neighbouring India came to see him during his meditation. After emerging from his prayer, he and his followers set up ashrams in Bara, Sarlahi, Sindhupalchok and Sindhuli districts.

Bomjan began preaching about two years later, attracting an audience of about 3,000 people during his first sermon, according to his website. He is expected to be taken to a court in southern Nepal, where the alleged crimes occurred, to appear before a judge there.

(with inputs from ANI)

ALSO READ | India to provide $75 million to aid reconstruction efforts in earthquake-hit areas of Nepal: Jaishankar

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