Chennai: Controversial godman Swami Nithyananda was on Saturday removed as the successor to a 1500-year-old mutt in Madurai. He faces several criminal charges, including rape. Nityananda was appointed as the successor at the mutt in August this year, but the decision had received widespread criticism, including from the Tamil Nadu government.
The senior pontiff of the Madurai Atheenam announced that Nithyananda had been sacked as the junior pontiff and also sought police protection fearing threats from Nithyananda's followers. Arunagirinathar Paramacharya said, "We're removing Nithyananda from his position. You all know the reason. The matter is still in court. I don't want to say anything more."
Nithyananda was appointed to the position of junior pontiff amidst much controversy. The Tamil Nadu government moved court alleging that he and the senior pontiff had planned to grab land belonging to the mutt. Outfits like the Hindu Munnani Katchi also staged protests outside the ashram.
Nithyananda, however, played down his sacking. He said, "I was anyway going to resign tomorrow or day after. I've made it clear earlier that I wouldn't want to a threat to anyone." The police, however, are taking no chances, and have tightened security to prevent any untoward incidents.