Despite official meetings, no
resolution for Tri-Valley students
A group of former students of the Tri-Valley University, closed down for
alleged immigration fraud, told Indian
Ambassador Meera Shankar and US
immigration officials April 15 that all
students should not be deemed guilty
of fraud without evidence.
Federal authorities had issued Notices to Appear in court
to many Tri-Valley students.
At the April 15 meeting, the students were told that
Immigration and Customs Enforcement field officers have
been asked to address the issue on a case-by-case basis. The
officials also said ICE would soon release the status of the
students with no NTAs but would not confirm that issued
NTAs would be withdrawn. Also present at the meeting
was Louis M Farrell, director, United States Student and
Exchange Visitor Program.
Three months after federal authorities closed down the
Tri-Valley University, students are still being arrested, and
NTAs still being issued. Many former TVU students are
also struggling for admission into accredited universities in
the US. A few have gone back to India; others have decided to try their luck here. Some are waiting for their court
dates, with no idea of what lies ahead for them.
“Until we see some official policy, we are still where we
were two months ago,” said immigration attorney Rajiv S
San Francisco Bay Area-based immigration attorney
Shah Peerally said one of his clients went back to India and
got a new I-20 (a document from a US university confirm-
ing admission) from another school in the US but was
denied a visa because of having studied at Tri-Valley.
ARTHUR J PAIS
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is still
looking for Prakashanand Saraswati, and
working with its counterpart in Mexico to
bring him back to Texas to face his long jail
sentence for sexually abusing two teenagers.
Saraswati, 82, was last seen at Texas’s Hays
County Court March 4, and was
sentenced in absentia to 14 years
in prison on each of the 20
counts he faced.
America’s Most Wanted
television show posted a video about
the swami on the run.
‘He may use a cane or may be
in a wheelchair due to a back
problem,’ the April 27
announcement said. ‘He’s never
by himself; he’s always with a
handler or associates. He’s likely
to be wearing a sari or other
Some swamis including
Kripaluji Maharaj, who has
taken over running Saraswati’s
Barsana Dham ashram near
Austin, have posed in saris in appreciation of
Radha’s devotion to Lord Krishna.
America’s Most Wanted said Saraswati
could be in Nuevo Laredo, Tamaulipas,
Mexico, right across from Laredo, Texas, or
he could also be in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon,
Mexico — two hours from the border.
At the 220-acre Barsana Dham ashram in
Hays County, Texas that he founded,
Saraswati’s name is off the masthead. The
ashram has changed its name to JKP Radha
Madhav Dham (after Jagadguru Shree
Kripaluji Maharaj of the Jagadguru Kripalu
Parishat, an international network that
Barsana Dham is part of). It has also erased
Saraswati’s photograph from its Web site,
though the current leaders including newly
Prakashanand Saraswati still fugitive; his ashram
changes name, leadership
A digital snapshot of the new Barsana Dham Web site
installed ashram president Raj Goel — a
multimillionaire businessman associated
with the ashram for over two decades — have
been vocal supporters of Saraswati.
The change in the name and leadership led
to more controversy and media coverage.
‘Like the old Communist leaders who once
altered photographs to reflect leadership
changes, Barsana Dham… has moved aggressively on the Internet to wipe out all traces of
its connection to Prakashanand Saraswati,”
wrote blogger Eric Dexheimer in the
Austin-American Statesman. Swami Kripalu’s past
came up in a Hays Free Press story.
‘Maharajji, 88, hasn’t been immune to sexual
abuse claims either,’ wrote Sean Kimmons.
‘In 2007, he was charged with the rape of a
woman while he visited
United States Marshal Hector Gomez told
India Abroad that he believes Saraswati, who
has severe health problems, will seek to settle
down in Nepal. If he lands in India, Indian
authorities will inform their American counterparts, he said. “His associates must be
looking for a plane and a pilot to take him
away from Mexico,” Gomez said.
Meanwhile, The Statesman reported that
Hays County officials are trying to collect on
$11 million worth of appearance bonds.
“If the guru was wrongly convicted as they
(the disciples and ashram officials) claim,
why remove him from the ashram he found-
ed and why change the name he gave it,”
asked Vijay Mehta, a physician and commu-
nity leader. “I don’t think the new leaders are
interested in showing any transparency. I was
asked to be one of the trustees but I have
refused. I believe there should be accounta-
bility. Our community should realize that we
cannot take comfort that our mothers, wives,
sisters, and daughters are safe from sexual
Missing in Barsana Dham communiqués is
any mention of Peter Spiegel, a businessman
and an ardent devotee who had signed a note
promising $10 million if Saraswati was given
his passport back and allowed to travel inter-
nationally. California-based Spiegel, who
made his fortune in the direct marketing and
infomercial business, has been Saraswati’s
follower for nearly three decades.