India Seizes $40,000 in Valuables From Guru; He Thwarts Probes
NEW Delhi (AP) - The government said Wednesday it twice tried to question a 14-year-old guru with a large Western following about $40,000 worth of money and valuables seized by Indian customs.
K.R. Ganesh, the minister of state for finance, told Parliament that one interview with guru Maharaj Ji was unsuccessful because four members of Parliament who accompanied him refused to let government agents talk with him alone. The valuables were in a valise taken from the guru's secretary, Bihari Singh, when the guru's party arrived in New Delhi on Nov. 7 for a festival in the capital and a month of meditation in the Himalayas. The guru's spokesmen contend the valise's contents belonged to the 350 American devotees who accompanied him.
Ganesh said the guru was summoned to appear before an assistant collector of customs on Nov. 22. His lawyer asked that the collector come to a downtown hotel, and the government complied.
Twenty minutes after the agents arrived, Ganesh said, the guru showed up with eight other persons, including the four members of Parliament.
The lawmakers argued for 40 minutes over the customs men's decision that they could not sit in with a tape recorder on the interview, Ganesh said. Then two of the parliamentarians left, taking the guru with them.
Ganesh said the investigation, reported to have been ordered by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was continuing.