The Iowa-based institutions of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi have confirmed that at least 130 Indian “Vedic pandits” have gone missing in recent years after arriving in the U.S. to pursue programmes of religious learning.

Meanwhile, one of the institutions’ officials described media reports alleging ill-treatment as “replete with falsehoods” and “defamatory.”

In an email to The Hindu, William Goldstein, Dean of Global Development and General Counsel to the Maharishi University of Management, based in Fairfield, Iowa, said the Global Country of World Peace (GCWP), the U.S. organisation sponsoring the pandits’ R-1 visas and their stay in this country, had not received any communication from the scholars before they went “AWOL” (Absence Without Leave) and it could be that “someone is misinforming them about the financial opportunities and the legal implications, and their prime motive appears to be to generate more money for their families.” There could be an “organised racket brokering the operation.”

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