NEW DELHI, India Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, banished from the “wretched” United States for immigration law violations, returned to his native India Sunday to a tumultuous welcome from hundreds of jubilant followers and to new legal tangles.
“This is my country,” the 53yearold bearded advocate of peace and free love told reporters as he pushed his way out of the arrival terminal at Palam International Airport through throngs of joyous disciples.
Asked what he thought of his treatment in the United States, where he was held in jail after his arrest on charges of immigration law violations, he said, “It is just a wretched country.”
The guru said he was going to a hotel to rest, but refused to say which one and would not disclose where he intended to settle.
Rajneesh then got into a waiting flower decked MercedesBenz sedan, which drove slowly through the crowds of saffron clad followers, who threw handfuls of flower petals on the roadway leading out of the airport into the Indian capital.
Rajneesh flew in about 2:30 a.m. Sunday aboard a chartered jet three days after pleading guilty in Portland Ore., to two counts of immigration fraud and paying a $400,000 fine.
In return, the man who claims a worldwide following of 500,000 accepted a 10year suspended sentence and a five-year ban on readmission to the United States. He promised he will never go back.
About 200 of Rajneesh’s followers lined the sidewalks of the airport’s arrival terminal, shouting and laughing for joy at their beloved leaders return to India.
The unscheduled delay prompted speculation in New Delhi that the guru was trying to sort out claims by the Indian government against the Rajneesh Foundation for more ‘than $800,000 in unpaid taxes.
He was not liable for arrest upon arrival in India and it was not known how the legal problems would affect his stay.
Rajneesh’s ultimate destination in India was not immediately known.
Article extracted from this publication >> November 22, 1985