Image Source : SOCIAL Rajinder Kalia

London: An Indian-origin “guru”, who styles himself as the head priest of a religious society in England, is being sued for millions of pounds in the High Court in London this week over sexual assault allegations brought by women who were his former “disciples”. Rajinder Kalia, 68, is the defendant in an ongoing trial accused of using his sermons and teachings, as well as the purported performance of “miracles”, to unduly influence followers’ actions. The court has imposed a fine of 8 million pounds.

The claimants in the case, all of Indian origin, had won a previous legal fight two years ago after a judge allowed the case to proceed to trial. “There are triable issues to be determined in this case, with many of the factual issues being intertwined and subject to the claimants’ cases as to the coercive control that the defendant (Kalia) exercised over them,” Judge Deputy Master Richard Grimshaw concluded in June 2022.

What Kalia say about case 

The trial opened last week at the Royal Courts of Justice before Justice Martin Spencer and is expected to conclude next week, with a judgment expected in the coming months. “I am horrified by the claims being made against me. They are demonstrably false, which makes them all the more puzzling,” Kalia said in a statement. “While I have always believed that everyone should be given a voice, this right must only be used fairly and responsibly. So, it is with great sadness that I sense an elaborate conspiracy to damage me within my community…The truth will soon out. Until then, I would like to thank all those who have helped sustain me and my family at this challenging time,” he said.

How did a Punjab-born man establish a temple in England?

The court has been told how Punjab-born Kalia broke his leg “badly” in a motorcycle accident in his late teens and was told by medical professionals that he would not walk again. However, after a visit to Deotsidh, Hamirpur district of Himachal Pradesh – the origins of Baba Balak Nath – he found he was able to walk again without crutches. He believes that this was a miracle and enhanced his Hindu faith, particularly in Baba Balak Nath.

He moved to the UK in January 1977 and began preaching in 1983 from his home before purchasing some land in Coventry and in 1986 established a “temple” in celebration of Baba Balak Nath. The Sidh Baba Balak Nath Ji Society of Coventry England is registered with the country’s Charity Commission and is run by trustees and volunteers.

According to the court documents for the trial, the temple serves food three times a week and helps the elderly in the community with Kalia as its head priest, or ‘guru’, referring to himself as a servant of God “Jinder Das”. The female claimants in the trial allege “serious sexual assaults” took place on a regular basis over many years in the “priest’s room” at the temple, including a claim of consensual sexual relationship. Kalia denies the allegations and his legal team will challenge them on several grounds as the case progresses through the lengthy trial.

(With inputs from agency)

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