Newark Disowns Sister City Invented by Alleged Rapist

Indian fugitive claims to have created nation of Kailasa, and New Jersey city fell for it
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 16, 2023 11:23 AM CDT
Newark Disowns Sister City Invented by Alleged Rapist
Ras Baraka, mayor of Newark, NJ, speaks during a Senate Environment and Public Works subcommittee hearing, Tuesday, April 5, 2022, on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib)

Newark, New Jersey, agreed to a sister-city relationship with a nation it has now been forced to admit doesn't exist. The city held an official ceremony honoring the partnership with the Hindu nation of Kailasa earlier this year. "I pray that our relationship helps us to understand cultural, social, and political development and improves the lives of everybody in both places," Mayor Ras Baraka told an invited "delegate," per the Guardian. That relationship lasted just six days. As the city revealed this month, it was fooled into believing Kailasa—invented by an Indian spiritual leader and fugitive who claims to control the movement of the sun—was legit, per Quartz.

The fugitive is Paramahamsa Nithyananda, who was accused of rape by a female disciple in 2019. According to the India Times, Nithyananda (born Arunachalam Rajasekaran) was out on bail when he announced the formation of the United States of Kailasa, named after Tibet's Mount Kailasa, the supposed home of the Hindu god Shiva, and described as an "ancient enlightened civilization, the great cosmic borderless Hindu nation." He also claimed to have purchased an island off the coast of Ecuador, which would presumably serve as the homeland for Kailasa's supposed population of "two billion Hindus," though the Ecuadorian government denied any such deal.

Nithyananda, who's also been accused of child abduction, hasn't been seen in public since 2019 when he is believed to have fled India, per the BBC. "Although this was a regrettable incident, the city of Newark remains committed to partnering with people from diverse cultures in order to enrich each other with connectivity, support and mutual respect," a Newark spokesperson said last week. The city shouldn't feel too bad as two members of Britain's Conservative Party invited representatives of Kailasa to a Diwali party at the House of Lords in December, per Quartz. Eager to legitimize Kailasa, representatives also attended two public United Nations committee meetings in Geneva in February, though a UN official later said their "irrelevant" and "tangential" comments would be ignored. (More Newark stories.)

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