Sathya Sai Trust issued notice, cops grill another member

HYDERABAD: The Andhra Pradesh government on Monday served a notice on the Sathya Sai Central Trust, seeking a detailed report on its activities, revenues and assets while police in Puttaparthi town grilled another trust member, V Srinivasan, for six hours over unaccounted cash seized recently.

As per a decision taken by the government June 22, the endowment department served the notice asking the trust to submit a detailed report within 10 days.

The trust, which manages the vast empire of the late Sathya Sai Baba, has been asked to provide details of its members, their businesses, trust activities, its functioning, assets and revenues, official sources said.

This is the first time in nearly four decades that the state government has intervened in the affairs of the trust, and it comes amid allegations of financial irregularities against some trust members.

The development came two months after the demise of the spiritual guru at the age of 85.

The trust, which was enjoying several exemptions under the Endowment Act since it was formed by Sathya Sai Baba in 1970s, has been facing a series of allegations since his death.

The seizure of huge unaccounted cash from a car allegedly belonging to the trust June 19 prompted the state government to intervene.

Police seized Rs.35.5 lakh and arrested three people who reportedly revealed that they were transporting the money from Prashanti Nilayam, the ashram of Sathya Sai Baba in Puttaparthi to Bangalore at the instance of two trust members.

The police in Puttaparthi town Monday grilled Srinivasan for six hours in connection with the cash seizure case.

A team of police officers led by Deputy Superintendent of Police (Penukonda) Kolar Krishna questioned him at the Sathya Sai deemed university.

The police official told reporters that if necessary, they would call Srinivasan again.

Another trust member and Sathya Sai Baba’s nephew, R.J. Ratnakar, was questioned for over five hours by police Saturday.

Ratnakar sought to clarify that the money does not belong to the trust but to some devotees and was meant for construction of Sai Baba’s "samadhi" (cenotaph).

This is also for the first time in the trust’s history that police have questioned its members.

A section of devotees and some family members of Sathya Sai Baba have alleged that some trust members moved money and valuables out of Prashanti Nilayam after the Baba was admitted to hospital in March.

The opening of Yajur Mandir, the residential quarter of the Baba at Prashanti Nilayam, on June 17 also triggered speculation.

While the trust declared that it found Rs.11.56 crore, 98 kg gold and gold jewellery, and 307 kg silver articles inside, some devotees alleged that huge amounts of cash and valuables were missing.

The trust members include former chief vigilance commissioner SV Giri and chartered accountant Indulalh Shah while former bureaucrat K Chakravarthi is trust secretary.

Interestingly, former chief justice of India PN Bhagwati announced his resignation as member of the trust a day before the opening of Yajur Mandir. (IANS)

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