He surrendered even as police conducted searches at his Bidadi ashram

In an unexpected development on Wednesday afternoon, the Ramanagaram police arrested self-styled godman Nithyananda when he appeared in the Ramanagaram Judicial Magistrate First Class court even as the police continued searches at his ashram in Bidadi, near here.

The police arrested him after the Judge, Komala, instructed him to come to the court on Thursday as procedures had to be observed. Since a search warrant had been issued against the accused, the police arrested him following directions from the court.

A team led by Ramanagaram Superintendent of Police Anupam Agarwal arrested the godman on the charge of assaulting a journalist and took him to an undisclosed place under tight police security for further investigation. Mr. Agarwal said that Nithyananda had come to the court to surrender.

‘Searches will continue’

Even though the godman was arrested, the police continued to search Nithyananda Dhyanapeetam. “We may have arrested the accused, but we cannot suspend the search operation until we receive an order from the Karnataka government,” a top official of the district administration told The Hindu.

Earlier, Nithyananda, who was believed to have taken shelter in Tamil Nadu, arrived in a Kerala State-registered car.

In Bangalore, Vishwa Hindu Parishad Bangalore unit president Vijay Kumar Reddy alleged that there was a conspiracy behind allegations of sexual harassment against Nithyananda and said unseen hands were working against him. He, however, failed to answer a number of queries posed to him on the activities of Nithyananda.

Meanwhile, the Karnataka High Court on Wednesday asked the State government to file its response, without being guided by media reports, to petitions filed by Nithyananda seeking quashing of the First Information Report registered against him in connection with the incident that occurred at his ashram in Bidadi.

Justice Subash B. Adi made these oral observations during hearing of the petitions when the prosecution sought time to file its response to Nithyananda's petition. Further, hearing on the petition has been adjourned till Friday.

The Kamraj National Congress has urged Karnataka Chief Minister D.V. Sadananda Gowda to review the government's action against Nithyananda.

In a press release, party president M.S. Rajendran has questioned the government's right to indulge in such acts and has said that human rights groups will not tolerate the manner in which the inmates of the ashram were driven out.