Nepal probes ‘Buddha boy’ over devotee disappearances

‘Buddha Boy’ Ram Bahadur Bomjan, seen here in 2008, became famous after followers said he could meditate motionless for months without water, food or sleep. (AFP)
Updated 07 January 2019
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Nepal probes ‘Buddha boy’ over devotee disappearances

  • ‘The police have started investigating these complaints against Bomjan,’ a spokesman for Nepal’s Central Investigation Bureau said
  • Thousands of worshippers queue for days to witness his so-called miracles of meditation deep in the jungle

KATMANDU: A Nepali spiritual leader believed by his followers to be a reincarnation of Buddha is under investigation over the disappearance of several devotees, police in Katmandu said Monday.
Ram Bahadur Bomjan, dubbed “Buddha Boy,” became famous in 2005 after followers said he could meditate motionless for months without water, food or sleep in Nepal’s jungles.
The 28-year-old guru has a devout following but has been accused of physically and sexually assaulting some of his flock.
Special police investigators have begun inquiries after the families of four of Bomjan’s devotees allegedly vanished from his ashrams.
“The police have started investigating these complaints against Bomjan,” Uma Prasad Chaturbedi, a spokesman for Nepal’s Central Investigation Bureau, said.
“The investigation is in preliminary stage and we cannot share many details.”
Bomjan has long been dogged by accusations of abuse in deeply spiritual Nepal, even as thousands of worshippers queued for days to witness his so-called miracles of meditation deep in the jungle.
In September last year, an 18-year-old nun accused the guru of raping her at one of his ashrams.
Dozens more have filed complaints against him alleging assault. The self-styled godman said he beat them for disturbing his meditation.
The Bodhi Shrawan Dharma Sangha, an organization associated with the guru, recently slammed as baseless a series of fresh allegations made by a local website, Setopati.com, which published reports detailing cases of disappearances, sexual assault and violence in his ashrams.


New Zealanders hand over 10,000-plus guns and weapons parts in buy-back scheme

Updated 2 min 27 sec ago
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New Zealanders hand over 10,000-plus guns and weapons parts in buy-back scheme

  • A gun reform law passed in April banned most semi-automatic firearms
  • Owners have until Dec. 20 to hand in their weapons

SYDNEY: New Zealanders have handed over more than 10,000 guns, weapons parts and accessories in the first week of a buy-back scheme prompted by the country’s worst peacetime mass shooting, police figures released on Sunday show.
A gun reform law passed in April banned most semi-automatic firearms, parts that convert firearms into semi-automatics, magazines over a certain capacity and some shotguns.
Owners have until Dec. 20 to hand in their weapons and the government has set aside NZ$208 million ($140.63 million) to compensate them for up to 95% of the original cost.
The buy-back comes four months after a lone gunman with semi-automatic weapons attacked Muslims attending Friday prayers in Christchurch on New Zealand’s South Island, killing 51 people.
More than 2,000 people have surrendered 3,275 firearms, 7,827 parts and accessories and in return authorities have paid them slightly more than NZ$6 million ($4.06 million) since the buy-back began last Saturday, a police spokesperson told Reuters by telephone on Sunday.
Police said they were pleased with the turnout on Sunday, as 684 people handed in 1,061 guns and 3,397 parts and accessories at events across the country.
Police superintendent Karyn Malthus said hundreds of firearms had been surrendered in Auckland.
“The feedback from firearms owners at the event has been very positive,” she said in an emailed statement.
Media reported on Wednesday that Christchurch residents were upset about the proposed opening of a Gun City mega store in the city.
Brenton Tarrant, accused of the March 15 killings, bought four weapons and ammunition from the Gun City chain online from December 2017 to March 2018, owner David Tipple said in March.
Tarrant, due to stand trial in May, has pleaded not guilty to 92 charges over the attacks, including New Zealand’s first terrorism charge.
With a population of just under 5 million and an estimated total of 1.5 million firearms, New Zealand ranks 17th in the world in terms of civilian firearm ownership, the Small Arms Survey shows.