The government has cancelled the passport of rape-accused self-styled godman Nithyananda and rejected his application for fresh one, External Affairs Ministry said on Friday. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Raveesh Kumar also said that it has sensitised all its missions and posts abroad about locating Nithyananda, who has been missing since last month.
Asked about reports that Nithyananda has founded his own country, Mr Kumar said, "Setting up a website is different from setting up a nation."
"We have cancelled his passport, his fresh passport request was put on hold as he couldn't get clearance from police. We have sensitised all our missions and posts. It is difficult to speculate on the location of fugitives and it is not for the MEA to find him. We have told foreign governments to inform us if they have any info. We are still waiting as of now," Mr Kumar said.
Nithyananda, facing rape and sexual abuse charges, made headlines on Wednesday after he emerged from hiding and announced the birth of a new "cosmic country" with its own cabinet and golden passports.
Nithyananda, who commands thousands of followers in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, posted a video on his YouTube channel announcing the special project to his followers.
The 41-year-old announced that his country is called Kailaasa, and is the biggest Hindu nation without boundaries.
"The Hindu nation exists in cosmos," he said in the now-viral video.
Media reports cited a website allegedly created by Nithyananda with details about his plans for Kailaasa, even as the police and other authorities investigating him for various criminal charges continue to remain clueless about his whereabouts.
The website shares details of different government departments and agencies in his make-believe country, including homeland security, commerce, treasury, housing, technology and one for enlightened civilisation.
It also gives Kailaasa its own triangular flag and an emblem with Tamil, Sanskrit and English as its main languages.
Though not convicted, Nithyananda first made national headlines in 2010 after he was arrested and jailed for 53 days over a sex scandal involving him and an actress.
Subsequently, some other women also accused him of abusing them at his religious retreat in Karnataka.
Last month, a case was registered against him in Gujarat on charges of wrongful confinement of children.
The police reportedly believe he fled the country during the investigation.
"So far what we know is that he is not in the Ashram (his retreat) here for almost a year," a police officer told the Press Trust of India.
"This is one of the 10 to 15 Ashrams he has nationwide. His main areas of operation are Tamil Nadu and Gujarat," he added.
(With inputs from agencies)