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Last Updated: Friday, 22 August, 2003, 16:56 GMT 17:56 UK
India to deport Swedish 'guru'
Lord Vishnu
Mr Davidson's ashram had a huge idol of Lord Vishnu's holy bird
A self-styled Swedish guru who set up a Hindu retreat centre after entering India on a tourist visa in 1992 and refusing to leave has been arrested and faces deportation.

Harold Davidson, 45, established the illegally built ashram with a massive idol of a holy eagle on a two-acre plot in Mallayapuram, in southern Tamil Nadu state.

He was arrested on Thursday in the southern town of Kanchipuram after going into hiding following a court refusal to extend his visa.

Mr Davidson was remanded in custody and would be repatriated in a week's time, officials said.

Noise complaints

The BBC's Sampath Kumar in Madras says villagers remembered Mr Davidson's arrival - a white man sitting on the top of a rock seemingly unmindful of the scorching heat.

He told them he had come to their village to serve them.

He built the ashram with an idol of garuda - the holy bird associated with the Hindu god Vishnu.

Mr Davidson had his six-month tourist visa extended by two years but on expiry refused to leave.

He appealed against a court decision in 1994 and after eight years of wrangling was finally turned down.

Mr Davidson then went into hiding, police said.

They said he was not engaged in any illegal activity but was resented by some villagers.

The guru opposed the use of noisy public address systems and lodged more than 200 complaints with police over noise pollution.


SEE ALSO:
Dutch give nod to 'guru currency'
05 Feb 03  |  Business
Hindu nation: What role for religion?
11 Aug 03  |  South Asia


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