Yoga guru Swami Ramdevji allowed to stay in UK

Swami Ramdevji and Keith Vaz in a crowd, facing reporters holding out microphones and cameras
Image caption Swami Ramdevji returned to Heathrow on Saturday with backers including Keith Vaz

A spiritual leader who was detained at Heathrow airport for eight hours after arriving from India has been allowed to stay in the country.

Swami Ramdevji, 47, also known as Baba Ramdev, was stopped by officials at Heathrow Airport on Friday.

He arrived ahead of a 1,500-strong yoga class he was due to lead in Glasgow on Monday.

Ramdevji was given a 24-hour visa and instructed to return to Terminal Five on Saturday afternoon.

His supporters feared he would be told to leave but immigration officials ruled he could stay.

He arrived at the airport on Saturday with Leicester East MP Keith Vaz, and was mobbed by more than 150 supporters.

In the melee Ramdevji, who was dressed in sandals and an orange robe, nearly lost his clothing.

'Matter of concern'

Emerging from a brief meeting with Heathrow officials, Mr Vaz said the guru was now allowed to stay.

He added: "However, it is still a matter of concern to his many supporters and thousands of people who couldn't be here today that he should have been treated in the way he was treated when he arrived at Heathrow.

"No Indian citizen with a valid visa entering the UK for lawful purposes should be held in this way.

"This is a very serious situation that occurred."

Mr Vaz said he would pursue a fuller explanation later.

Ramdevji, who is only in the UK until Tuesday, said he had no problem with the UK government and added he would like to come back for up to three months.

Supporters have claimed he could have been targeted by the Indian authorities for speaking out about corruption back home.

The organisers of his visit said they had contacted Hindu temples throughout the UK asking for people to protest at the airport against the move.

Worldwide following

Image caption Swami Ramdevji has been told he can stay in the UK

Ramdevji reportedly has an 85 million-strong worldwide following and his own television channel in India.

He has run prominent campaigns in India, including hunger strikes, protesting against corruption in government.

A trust run by Ramdevji bought the island of Little Cumbrae just off the coast of Largs in south west Scotland and established it as a yoga centre two years ago.

A Home Office spokeswoman said: "We would not comment on individual cases."

Media reports in India said Ramdevji was detained because he arrived at Heathrow on a visitor's visa instead of a business visa.

His spokesman SK Tejarawala was reported as saying: "It was not clear why the yoga guru was detained for over six hours at Heathrow. He was not carrying anything with him except a small bag of personal effects.

"It is for the British authorities to explain why he was detained."

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