A Nepalese man popularly known as “Buddha boy” is being investigated by police amid reports he beat a group of locals for disturbing his meditation.
Ram Bahadur Bomjan has admitted to assaulting some of the local villagers in Bara district on Thursday, according to local media.
Mr Bomjan is famed for spending months in the forest without eating.
His devotees believe he is the reincarnation of the Buddha, and he says he has not eaten since 2005.
When he started his fast, he pledged he would meditate for six years, until he gained enlightenment.
Manoj Neupane, superintendent of police for Bara district, said police were sent to investigate after 17 people lodged complaints.
Those who had been injured were sent for medical checks, he told the BBC.
According to Nepal’s Republica newspaper, the villagers claimed they had been looking for wild fruit and vegetables.
Mr Bomjan said he had slapped them “two or three times” after they came onto his platform and mimicked him, while the villagers allege they were assaulted more seriously.
“They disturbed me while I was meditating… tried to manhandle me,” Mr Bomjan was quoted as saying by Republica. “I was therefore forced to beat them.”
Last November, Mr Bomjan – who is reportedly around 20 years old – campaigned against the mass sacrifice of some 250,000 animals at the Gadhimai festival in southern Nepal.