NewsIndiaTimes - page 8

– that’s all you need to know
By Bhargavi Kulkarni
27-year-old post-doc-
toral student at the
Alabama A&M
University was found
dead earlier this
month in a pond at
the university’s research farm in
Meridianville. The body of
Lavanya Abburi was found the
morning of April 1 by workers at
the farm, about 1,200 yards away
from her research station.
Investigator Jeremy Hughes, a
spokesman for the Madison
County Sheriff’s Office, told
News India Times that Abburi
was afraid of water and could
not swim. Her body had marks
on it that the preliminary investi-
gation has not been able to
explain and although her car was
at the farm, her keys and cell
phone have not been found.
Investigators are awaiting the
results of toxicology and other
tests in the hopes that they help
determine how Abburi died,
Hughes said.
Meanwhile as investigations
continue, Abburi’s sister left for
India with the body April 9, The
Indian Express reported. The last
rites would be performed at
Pedareddy Palem, her native vil-
lage near Narsaraopet in Guntur
district of Andhra Pradesh.
Abburi’s course mates, col-
leagues and professors at the
university are puzzled by her
death and told that her
work involved plants – which
had not yet been planted at the
time of her death – and that her
work did not involve the pond.
Her A&M research supervisor,
Rao Mentreddy, said she was
even afraid to drive in the rain.
He and fellow students all said
her work was with plants and
had nothing to do with the pond
so there was never any reason to
be near it in the first place.
Abburi came to Alabama last
spring , when she enrolled in
Alabama A&M’s biological and
environmental sciences depart-
ment. Her research involved the
molecular biology, trait varia-
tions and gene-mapping of
watermelons. She came here to
study watermelon traits and
biotechnology after completing
her second master’s degree at
West Virginia State University.
Before these two American uni-
versities, Abburi lived her entire
life in India.
Abburi’sWest Virginia State
University supervisor, Umesh
Reddy, described her as “a very
hard working and diligent stu-
dent.” Abburi always maintained
high standards and ethics in her
endeavors, and was a well-
behaved student and showed
dedication toward her studies,
Reddy said in a statement
emailed to News India Times.
Abburi completed her bache-
lor of science in Biotechnology
fromNagarjuna University,
Andhra Pradesh, from 2003 to
2006, and later a master of sci-
ence in Biotechnology in Nehru
College, Coimbatore, from 2007-
2009. She was part of the master
of science program in
Biotechnology atWest Virginia
State University (WVSU) in
Institute, from 2010 to 2013,
working in the laboratory of
plant genomics.
She associated with several
research projects while atWVSU
and coauthored in six peer-
reviewed publications. Her co-
authored papers are published
in Journal of Heredity, Molecular
Genetics and Genomics, BMC
Genomics, G3, Journal of
Experimental Biology and
Molecular Breeding.
Alabama A&MUniversity Student Found Dead on Campus
BikramYoga Founder Denies Sexual Assault Allegations
ikram Choudhury, the
Indian-American founder
of the signature “hot yoga”
bearing his name with celebrity
followers around the world, has
denied accusations of rape or
sexual assault by six of his for-
mer students.
“I want to show you, tell the
truth to the world, that I never
assaulted them,” he told CNN
last week. He would never resort
to physical aggression to have
sex because he has so many
offers, he said. “Women like me.
Women love me,” Choudhury,
69, was quoted as saying. “So, if I
really wanted to involve the
women, I don’t have to assault
the women.”
He said he feels sorry for his
accusers, claiming they have
been manipulated by lawyers to
lie. However, Choudhury’s
accusers say he was the one who
has been lying.
“This stuff that he’s teaching
is really good stuff, but he’s hurt-
ing people and hiding behind
this good stuff so people don’t
believe he’s capable of hurting
people,” Sarah Baughn, a former
student, was quoted as saying.
“He’s got to stop lying behind it.
And he’s got to stop doing this to
Founder of Bikram’s Yoga
College of India, Choudhury is
featured prominently on its web-
site, which details his system of
performing 26 unique yoga
poses while in a very hot room.
Besides Baughn’s claim of sex-
ual assault, five other women
have come forward with civil
lawsuits filed in Los Angeles
Superior Court claiming
Choudhury raped them. These
lawsuits describe Choudhury as
someone who preyed on young
women who looked to him for
However, the Los Angeles
Police Department, without
explanation, declined to pursue
criminal charges in the cases,
according to CNN.
Choudhury repeatedly denied
assaulting his accusers or ever
having consensual sex with
them. But when asked whether
he’d had sex with other students,
he responded, “Yes and no.”
“I have no intention to have
sex with any of my students or
any women,” said Choudhury,
who said he has been married to
his wife for more than 30 years.
“Sometimes students, they com-
mit suicide. Lots of students of
mine, they commit suicide
because I will not have sex with
them,” he was quoted as saying.
Choudhury claimed these
encounters took place before he
was married. But when asked for
evidence, his attorney advised
him not to give CNN names.
By Ela Dutt
California judge ruled
April 4, that yoga taught
at schools did not
impinge on students’ religious
rights in San Diego County
schools. The judgment
upholds a 2013 lower court rul-
ing in the case. As yoga has
become a popular fitness exer-
cise, many Hindus have in fact
protested that it is being
stripped of its religious under-
pinning and has become a
commercial commodity.
A family in the Encinitas
Union School District brought
the case some years ago claim-
ing that the yoga classes being
held at school were promoting
Hinduism and inhibiting
Christianity. In 2013, San Diego
Superior Court Judge John S.
Meyer had ruled that while
yoga was a religious practice it
was not being taught that way
in the school district. He noted
that stances like the lotus posi-
tion were being described as
“criss-cross apple-sauce” and
the exercises were stripped of
all cultural references.
The parents bringing the
case appealed Judge Meyer’s
decision. However, on April 4,
the Appeals Court sided with
Judge Meyer after watching
videos and other materials that
showed how yoga classes were
being conducted in the
“This is part of trying to
show Hinduism in a negative
light,” Ved Chaudhary, presi-
dent of Educators’ Society for
the Heritage of India, told
News India Times. Yoga, he
said, promoted non-violence
and truth. The Asanas or
stances are about fitness, he
said, but the Ashtangas or “8
limbs” of yoga could be con-
sidered by some as going into
A National Public Radio
report in 2013, noted that fun-
ders of the school yoga pro-
gram promoted Ashtanga
yoga, a form that was intro-
duced to Encinitas by Krishna
Pattabhi Jois who came from
India in 1975.
California Court Rules Yoga Classes Not Infringing Religious Rights
Lavanya Abburi
News India Times
April 17, 2015
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