FBI raids Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in New Jersey, BAPS accused of forced labour, wage theft
The lawsuit filed against BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Robbinsville, New Jersey accuses the sect of luring 200 Indians to the country and forcing them to work nearly 90 hours a week for little over a dollar an hour.
Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha has been accused of forced labour, trafficking and wage theft in a lawsuit in the United States.
The lawsuit filed against BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir in Robbinsville, New Jersey, accuses the sect of luring 200 Indians to the country and forcing them to work nearly 90 hours a week for little over a dollar an hour.
Federal Bureau of Investigation raided the temple on Tuesday after the lawsuit was filed.
New Jersey's minimum wage law offers $12 an hour. According to US law, the pay rate for most hourly workers rises to time-and-a-half when they work more than 40 hours a week.
Patricia Kakaleck, an attorney at Kakaleck Law representing the workers, told media persons that the people were brought to the US from India as religious workers.
"However, they were neither religious workers nor volunteers," she claimed.
"They lived in trailers on the property. They were not permitted to leave. Their passports were taken, and visas were confiscated. They were told that if they left, they could be picked up by the police," Patricia alleged.
Responding to the charges, Lenin Joshi, a spokesman for BAPS, said, "We are naturally shaken by this turn of events and are sure that once the full facts come out, we will be able to provide answers and show that these accusations and allegations are without merit."