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Puttaparthi turns into fortress, devotees clog town

india Updated: Apr 26, 2011 17:46 IST

Thousands of devotees continued to pour in at Puttaparthi on Tuesday for a "last darshan" of spiritual leader Sathya Sai Baba who died two days ago. A massive blanket of security has been thrown around the town as Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi are among those expected to come.

With a few hours to go before Sathya Sai Central Trust closes the gates of Prashanti Nilayam for mourners, this pilgrim town is teeming with devotees coming from different parts of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and other parts of the country.

The district administration has already announced that devotees will be allowed to have a "last darshan" only till 6pm on Tuesday.

Besides Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader LK Advani and Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi will also be visiting the town on Tuesday.

Former Prime Minister HD Deve Gowda, Karnataka governor HR Bharadwaj and former Karnataka chief minister HD Kumaraswamy were among key devotees who paid their last respects since Monday night.

Anantapur district collector Janardhan Reddy said those standing in queue at 6pm will be allowed to pay their last respects. He appealed to devotees not to reach Puttaparthi from Tuesday evening till Wednesday afternoon.

The last rites of Sathya Sai Baba will be performed with full state honours between 9am and 10.30am on Wednesday. He will be buried in Sai Kulwant Hall of Prashanti Nilayam, where his body has been kept since Sunday evening.

The district collector said the devotees would be allowed at the "samadhi" of Baba from Wednesday afternoon.

Andhra Pradesh governor ESL Narasimhan and chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, who are reaching the town later in the day, will attend the last rites.