Over 150 pandits go missing from US university, consul probes allegations

Washington: While a media report has claimed that as many as 163 Vedic pandits, who were brought to the US from north Indian villages, have disappeared from the Maharishi Vedic City in Iowa during the past year, the institute's management has denied any wrongdoing.

In an investigative report, Chicago-based ethnic weekly newspaper Hi India alleged that the Vedic pandits brought to the US lived in pathetic conditions and were paid less than 75 cents an hour.

"They have jumped the fence for immigration purposes or for chasing their American Dream," the head of the university was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The Global Country of World Peace - one of the many teaching centers set up by late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi - is not aware of the plight of these pandits, some of whom are as young as 19 years, the report said.

Quoting an unnamed pandit, the report gave details of the modus operandi of the institute and how the Indians are brought to the US.

On their arrival, the Indians are kept in makeshift trailers under round-the-clock surveillance. Before coming to the US, they are asked to sign a contract whereby they are promised a compensation of  $50 while in the US and another  $150 in India.

"If the Pandit 'behaves well', his so-called compensation for two years is given to him or his family on his return from the US. The contract is prepared in a way to obtain visa," Hi India reported.

The Hindu today reported that India's consul general in Chicago has not received any complaints against the institute for now and the university hasn't deposited the passports of any missing persons with the consulate.

The report also quoted William Goldstein, the Dean of Global Development and General Counsel to the Maharishi University of Management, that the pandits hadn't informed them before going missing and suspected they have been working in simple jobs to send money back home.

Goldstein also denied the allegations made in the report in Hi India.

with inputs from PTI

Updated Date: Jan 28, 2014 09:52 AM

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