Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Yoga guru allowed to stay in UK

A yoga guru who was detained at Heathrow for several hours after arriving from India has been allowed to stay in the country.

Swami Ramdevji, 47, was held on Friday afternoon. He was in the UK to meet followers and lead a 1,500-strong yoga class in Glasgow.

But the robed and bearded figure, who reportedly has an 85 million strong worldwide following, was given a 24-hour visa and ordered to return to Terminal Five on Saturday afternoon, when his supporters feared he would be thrown out of the country. More than 150 of them arrived at the airport to support him.

They were rapturous when Ramdevji, who is also known as Baba Ramdev, arrived hand-in-hand with Keith Vaz, who is MP for Leicester East and chairman of the influential House of Commons Home Affairs Committee.

Mr Vaz addressed the bustling crowd and promised to find out from Heathrow's chief immigration officer what had happened.

Ramdevji, whose arrival was greeted with cheers, applause and chanting, spoke in Hindi before he was mobbed on his way to the meeting. In the melee the guru, wearing chunky wooden sandals, nearly lost his orange robes as followers rushed to touch and welcome him. A thoughtful photographer covered up his naked chest.

Emerging from a brief meeting with Heathrow officials, Mr Vaz said the guru was now allowed to stay. He said: "However, it is still a matter of concern to his many supporters and thousands of people who couldn't be here today that he should have been treated in the way he was treated when he arrived at Heathrow. No Indian citizen with a valid visa entering the UK for lawful purposes should be held in this way. This is a very serious situation that occurred." Mr Vaz said he would pursue a fuller explanation later.

The guru, who is only in the UK until Tuesday, said he had no problem with the UK Government and added he would like to come back for up to three months. His supporters, who were asked to attend by Hindu temples throughout the UK, pointed the finger at the Indian authorities for his treatment. They claimed he could have been targeted by the Indian government for speaking out about corruption back home.

Omparkash Yadav, 83, a group organiser who the guru stays with sometimes, said: "They didn't ask him any questions at all for six hours, then they looked at some of his stuff, some papers he had written notes on. They kept those and his passport. It is not an issue with his visa, that was given by the British High Commission within four days. He has been here six or seven times before. The first time in 2006. He was a guest of the Queen at Buckingham Palace and the second time he was a guest of Tony Blair at the House of Commons. There has never been a problem before. He talks about corruption. The people are suffering. But the people are with him. That's the concern with (Indian) government. They will try their best to bring him down."

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "We do not routinely comment on individual cases."

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph