Lakeland, Bartow duped into offering proclamations for fake Hindu nation led by fugitive

LAKELAND — In December 2021, Lakeland Mayor Bill Mutz signed a proclamation stating the city would honor and recognize “Kailasa’s SPH Nithyanada Day.”

The Hindu country of Kailasa doesn’t exist. It’s the creation of Swami Nithyananda, a scam artist and fugitive from India on rape charges since 2019, as CBS reported.

Kailasa has made news headlines after Newark Mayor Ras Baraka invited its representatives to New Jersey for a cultural trade agreement as “sister cities.” The Newark mayor wasn’t the only one duped, as roughly 30 cities across the country offered similar agreements or recognitions.

Lakeland and Bartow are two of the six Florida cities listed on Kailasa’s website,, as having issued proclamations in support of the fictitious country. Others include DeLand, Hallandale Beach, Palatka and Tarpon Springs, with documentation posted online.

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