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ISKCON battling fraud, conspiracy charges


Raksha Shetty, CN Anand, CNN-IBN
May 15, 2012 at 05:25pm IST

Bangalore/Mumbai: The International Society for Krishna consciousness, better known as ISKCON, is in the throes of controversy. Members are battling a host of serious charges, the most recent ones includes fraud and criminal conspiracy.

ISKCON, arguably India's biggest exporter of Lord Krishna to the western world, is struggling to keep its spiritual identity intact as scandal, corruption, and infighting threaten to tear its foundations apart.

The ISKCON newsletter - with details of its gurus the world over charged with child sex abuse, murder and embezzlement - is an attempt to start a cleansing process. But now the bitter disagreement over ISKCON's governance in India has split the organization right down the middle.

At the centre of the split is control over the multi-crore ISKCON temple in Bangalore, a battle that's now reached the Supreme Court. ISKCON Bangalore and ISKCON Mumbai are both accusing each other of conspiring to usurp the property.

ISKCON Mumbai itself is in trouble with a Kolkata court issuing arrest warrants for its head Guru Jayapataka Swami and governing council member Dayaram Das on charges of criminal conspiracy - for falsely implicating a fellow devotee in a rape case. The warrants were later quashed by the Kolkata High Court.

That's not all, Dayaram, while being internally investigated for investing personal funds through the temple's mutual investment schemes, questions are why former ISKCON member Satadhanya Das, accused of child sexual abuse within ISKCON, was not reported to the country’s law enforcement agencies.

ISKCON Governing Council member Dayaram Das email to Governing Council members said, "Only criminal courts in India have jurisdiction to try Satadhanya and others for their sexual abuse of children.”

Speaking to CNN-IBN, Dayaram Das, says all charges against ISKCON are part of a smear campaign by this man .. ISKCON Bangalore head Madhu Pandit Das, himself accused of property fraud and conspiracy.

ISKCON Bangalore representatives refused to speak to CNN-IBN. The mudslinging continues with one serious charge after another coming to light even as the Supreme Court urged both parties to reach a peaceful settlement. The fact remains, that in the United States and Europe, adverse publicity has ensured the multi-million dollar religious organization is often shunned.

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