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A spiritual leader in Nepal known as ‘Buddha Boy’ arrested on charges of rape and kidnapping

A spiritual leader in Nepal known as ‘Buddha Boy’ arrested on charges of rape and kidnapping

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — A controversial Nepalese spiritual leader known as “Buddha Boy” was arrested on charges of sexually assaulting a minor and involvement in the disappearance of at least four of his followers from his camps, police said Wednesday.

Ram Bahadur Bamjan is believed by many Nepalese to be the reincarnation of Siddhartha Gautama, who was born in southwestern Nepal some 2,600 years ago and became revered as Buddha. Buddhist scholars have been skeptical of Bamjan’s claims.

Bamjan was arrested late Tuesday from his house in a suburb of Kathmandu, the country’s capital, according to Nabaraj Adhikari of the Central Investigation Bureau.

Police brought him before the media in handcuffs on Wednesday and said that he had tried to flee by jumping two floors from a window when the officers arrived but was unsuccessful and was taken into custody.

Officials also displayed a stack of Nepalese banknotes they said was equivalent to $227,000 and other foreign currencies amounting to $23,000 seized from the house at the time of the arrest.

Bamjan is expected to be taken to a court in southern Nepal, where the alleged crimes occurred, to appear before a judge there.

Several dozen of his followers gathered later Wednesday outside the Central Investigation Bureau offices in Katmandu where Bamjan was being held but were pushed back by riot police.

Bamjan, also known as Buddha Boy, became famous in southern Nepal in 2005, when many believed he was able to meditate without moving for months while sitting beneath a tree with no food or water. He has remained popular despite accusations of sexually and physically assaulting his followers.

His popularity has since declined but he still maintains camps in southern Nepal where thousands of his followers come to live and worship him or to visit.

Buddhism, founded in India around 500 B.C., is considered the world’s fourth-largest religious tradition after Christianity, Islam and Hinduism.

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