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A Dozen Artisans Withdraw From Case Against BAPS

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A Dozen Artisans Withdraw From Case Against BAPS

India-West Staff Reporter

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ – Over a dozen artisans who were part of a lawsuit against Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan (BAPS) temple here, have decided to withdraw their names from the case. In May 2021, a lawsuit was filed against BAPS in the US alleging forced labor for the construction of a temple as well as human trafficking.

Rajasthan High Court Advocate Aaditya SB Soni issued a press release on behalf of the artisans under the banner of Bharatiya Majdoor Sangh and Patthar Gadhai Sangh stating the artisans were threatened to be part of the deep-rooted conspiracy to stall construction.

The stone carving artisans stated that they were made accomplices in the conspiracy but have rebelled against it, the press release said. They have decided to withdraw from the civil complaint filed in an American court against the Hindu temple. Soni, who is representing over 25 clients, said a dozen of them were pressured to join as plaintiffs in a civil complaint in the New Jersey court.

Based on the complaint, the FBI entered the temple premises in May 21 and took away 110 out of 134 artisans “volunteers” the press release said. BAPS was accused of luring laborers from India to work on temples near Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, and Los Angeles, along with New Jersey, while paying only $450 a month.

BAPS denied the claims and said worship through seva is an integral part of Bhakti in the sect, and volunteers from around the world contribute to the same. BAPS further stated that many of the artisans then went back home while some chose to stay back and perform seva at other temples in the US. “When the artisans have come to the US, they have done so on R-1 visa, which the federal government has approved for 20 years. In addition, federal, state, and local government agencies have regularly inspected and approved all of the mandir construction projects on which the artisans volunteered,” the statement read.

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