Bangalore, May 31 (IANS) Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Monday dismissed as speculation claims that enmity between devotees was behind the firing incident at the ashram. He also urged the Karnataka Police to thoroughly probe Sunday’s incident.
‘I am disappointed,’ he told reporters when asked about Karnataka Police Chief Ajay Kumar Singh’s statement that as of now the police were not treating the episode as an attack on the spiritual guru who has millions of followers in India and abroad.
A devotee identified as Vinay Kollumath, a software professional, was injured on his right thigh when a bullet whizzed past it. He too talked to the media and said he was not sure whether Ravi Shankar had left the complex or not as he was trying to find out what was causing him severe pain suddenly in his thigh. He said he was not near the convoy of the spiritual leader.
Ravi Shankar defended the delay in filing an FIR, three hours after the incident, which took place around 6 p.m. soon after he completed a discourse.
‘We did not know what had happened. We heard a noise. Our administrative and security wings took time to ascertain exactly what had happened. Then it took time to contact the police. The ashram is 45 minutes away from the police station. The police took time to reach as well. It was raining heavily Sunday evening,’ he said.
On the police version that the firing took place five minutes after he had left the place, Ravi Shankar said the confusion was because when his devotees told the police that he had left the place, they meant the dais and not the complex.
‘It takes five minutes or so for me to leave the dais as I meet the devotees and greet them.’
‘I had just got into the car, the door was to be closed when we heard a loud noise. We did not know what caused it. It could have been a generator blast or a huge branch of a tree falling. Our administrative and security wings did not want to create panic as there were around 5,000 devotees — including elderly people, women and children,’ he said.
Ravi Shankar said the devotee who suffered a minor injury was about 50 feet or 50 meters away from him when the noise was heard.
‘Police should not absolve themselves of the responsibility by believing that the incident was a result of enmity between devotees. They should not brush aside the incident. I request the intelligence bureau and police to thoroughly probe the incident,’ he asserted.
Ravi Shankar said he respected the police’s view. ‘But instead of probing thoroughly, they are talking like this. I am disappointed,’ he said.
Asked about various versions of the incident and whether Ravi Shankar had left the complex or not, the injured devotee Vinay said: ‘This happened soon after Satsang. I was not in a state to find out whether Guruji had left or not as I was in severe pain.’
He denied the firing was a result of enmity between devotees.
‘I do not have any enemies. I joined the course only five or six days ago. I do not have any properties in Bangalore. I stay in a rented house. My father is a retired government servant. We are innocent people,’ said Vinay, who hails from Belgaum in north Karnataka.
He said he was an engineer and worked for a software company in Bangalore. ‘I joined the course to reduce stress and also because I have breathing problems. There is some improvement. I will continue to attend the course,’ he said.