In their excitement over "partnering with people from diverse cultures," Newark officials, including the mayor, failed to uncover the truth.
According to the New York Post, just six days after the January 12 ceremony, City Hall admitted that they'd been duped, announcing that the agreement between them and Kailasa had been rendered "baseless and void." They ensured the public that no money changed hands and that the endeavor was motivated, on their part, solely by the desire to promote cultural and commercial ties via the sister city program.
During the ceremony, Mayor Ras Baraka said as much, telling Kailasa's delegates he hoped the agreement "helps to understand cultural, social, and political development and improves the lives of everybody in both places."
A City Hall spokesperson stated afterward, "Although this was a regrettable incident, the city of Newark remains committed to partnering with people from diverse cultures in order to enrich each other with connectivity, support, and mutual respect."
Since the news broke, officials have been slammed by everyone from citizens, to pundits, to late-night TV show hosts.
"Jesus Newark, how can an entire city get catfished?" The Daily Show's Kal Penn quipped. "Not a single person realized they'd never heard of this country before? Not on a globe, not at the Olympics? ... There must have been so many red flags, the biggest one being that anyone wanted to be sister cities with Newark!"
Fox News' Jesse Watters questioned why nobody had bothered to do any research on the alleged nation beforehand, adding that delegates from Kailasa had managed to dupe the United Nations as well, sneaking into a meeting in Geneva in February.
According to BBC, a UN official told the delegates that their submissions were "irrelevant" and "intangible" to the issues being discussed, and would ignore the statements made to two Geneva public meetings.
During one of these meetings, a woman who identified herself as Vijayapriya Nithyananda, "the permanent ambassador of the United States of Kailasa," described Kailasa as the "first sovereign state for Hindus" created by Nithyananda, the "supreme pontiff of Hinduism," and claimed that the island nation has been "successful with sustainable development" because it’s provided food, shelter, and medical care free to all citizens.
According to the BBC, Nithyananda fled India in 2019, and was accused of rape in 2010 by a female disciple. He was briefly arrested following the accusations and was released on bail. Nithyananda was charged in court in 2018.
A separate police complaint filed days before he left the country accused him of kidnapping and confining children in his Gujarat ashram.
In the same year, Nithyananda claimed to have bought an island off the coast of Ecuador and founded the country, though Ecuador has denied that he was in the country at the time, saying "Nithyananda has not been given asylum by Ecuador or has been helped by the government of Ecuador."
A quick Google search would have taken them to Nithyananda's website, where he brands himself as "The Reviver," worshipped by 20 million people all over the world. He also offers citizenship to his "great cosmic borderless Hindu nation" via QR code.
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