Sri Sri Ravi Shankar hints he was target, police say unlikely (Roundup)

Bangalore/New Delhi, May 31 (IANS) A day after an unidentified man opened fire in the Art of Living foundation ashram, spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Karnataka police Monday differed on whether the firing was an attack on him or not.

The firing just after 6 p.m. caused minor injuries to a devotee in his right thigh as the bullet from an illegally-made .32 calibre pistol grazed him. The bullet was handed over to police late Sunday.

While Sri Sri Ravi Shankar said it appeared to be an attempt on his life as there were many people wanting to attack him, state police chief Ajay Kumar Singh said: ‘As of now it is being treated as an incident and not an attack on Guruji (Ravi Shankar).’

In New Delhi, Home Minister P. Chidambaram indicated that ‘dispute between two of (Sri Sri Ravi Shankar’s) followers’ could have led to the incident.

‘The incident took place after he (Sri Sri Ravi Shankar) had left in his car. It may not be correct to say that the firing was aimed at him,’ Chidambaram told reporters.

The Karnataka police chief also maintained that from the sequence of events given by the injured devotee, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had left the place when the firing took place.

The spiritual guru, however, strongly disagreed with this version and expressed ‘disappointment that police were brushing aside the matter.’

‘When my devotees said I had left, they mean I had left the dais after satsang (discourse) and not the complex,’ he told reporters at his ashram, about 25 km away from Bangalore city centre.

‘I heard the noise when I was in the car and the car doors were being closed. It was a loud noise,’ he asserted.

Ravi Shankar said ‘the Intelligence Bureau and police should thoroughly probe the incident and not absolve themselves of the responsibility.’

He also dismissed as speculation that the incident was the result of enmity between his devotees.

The injured devotee, Vinay Kumar Kollumath, hailing from Belgaum in north Karnataka and working as a software professional in Bangalore, told reporters he could not say whether Sri Sri Ravi Shankar had left the place.

‘I was in severe pain. I was not in a state to find out whether the guruji had left the place,’ he said.

He also said he had no enemies and was coming to the ashram only for the last five or six days.

The AoL founder and his devotees and the state police also differed on the timing of the complaint.

The police chief said police were informed about three hours after the incident. However, one of the devotees working in the security/administrative wing of AoL said information was given over phone at around 8.20 p.m. and police came about an hour later.

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar defended the delay saying none knew exactly what had happened. They also did not want to create panic as there were about 5,000 devotees present at the time.

‘There was also heavy rain. The police station is about 45 minutes away from the complex. Police thought it was a small incident and wanted to know whether they can come in the morning to take the complaint,’ he said.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister B.S.Yeddyurappa and state Bharatiya Janata Party president K.S. Eshwarappa met Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at the AoL complex Monday evening and assured him full secutiy.

‘We will give full security to Guruji and the ashram. (I) Have conveyed this to him,’ Yeddyurappa told reporters.

State police have been directed to conduct a thorough investigation and punish the guilty, he added.