Indian Holy Leader And BA Stewardess Arrested Over Prostitution Racket

jeremy paige | delhi

A self-styled Hindu holy man and a British Airways stewardess have been arrested in Delhi on suspicion of involvement in a multimillion-pound prostitution racket.

Police said that Shiv Myra Dwivedi, a Hindu swami, used his temple in south Delhi as a front to provide as many as 200 prostitutes, including air hostesses and students, often to clients in five-star hotels.

In his spiritual guise he claimed a following of more than 100,000 people, including leading politicians. Undercover officers arrested him, another alleged pimp and six alleged prostitutes including two air hostesses, one from BA and one from the Indian airline Jagson, on Friday evening, Delhi police said.

The six women, aged between 19 and 30 and including an MBA student, each gave fake Indian names, apart from one identified only as “Ms Julie”. Delhi police did not specify their nationalities. BA told The Times that it was looking into the report.

A police statement said that the suspects were detained as the alleged pimps negotiated a deal with a group of young men near a cinema in the upmarket Saket neighbourhood of the Indian capital. Police also found a network of tunnels and secret rooms at Mr Dwivedi’s temple as well as six diaries and other documents detailing his alleged involvement in prostitution, according to media reports.

“In disguise of this spiritual façade, he is a pimp and tout who supplies sex workers in posh areas of Delhi,” the statement said.

Some police estimated that he had earned $10 million (£6.5 million), while others put his earnings at more than ten times that amount, the reports said.

Swamis have been revered in India for thousands of years, originally as leaders of Hindu religious schools or sects. They were often believed to have divine powers. Some claim millions of followers and have become hugely rich from donations.

Mr Dwivedi is the latest in a succession of holy men to have become embroiled in sex scandals, which critics say highlight the need for better government regulation to expose charlatans.

His arrest comes almost a year after Santosh Madhavan, a holy man from the southern state of Kerala, was jailed for 16 years for raping and illegally confining two young girls from an orphanage that he ran.

Police said that they found drugs and pornographic videos in his ashram.