Sathya Sai trustee seeks time for police questioning | india | Hindustan Times
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Sathya Sai trustee seeks time for police questioning

Sathya Sai Central Trust member R J Ratnakar has sought time till Saturday to appear before police regarding the seizure of huge amount of cash being transported out from late Sathya Sai Baba's ashram.

india Updated: Jun 23, 2011 17:10 IST

Sathya Sai Central Trust member R J Ratnakar has sought time till Saturday to appear before police regarding the seizure of huge amount of cash being transported out from late Sathya Sai Baba's ashram.

Ratnakar, who is also Sathya Sai Baba's nephew, on Thursday urged Anantapur district superintendent of police (SP) Shahanawaz Qasim to give him more time.

The police had on Wednesday served notices to Rantakar and another trust member, V Srinivasan, asking them to appear before the SP in three days (including Wednesday) for quizzing.

The police on June 19 seized Rs 35.5 lakh being transported in a car from Baba's ashram Prashanti Nilayam at Puttaparthi to Bangalore. Three people were also arrested.

Ratnakar initially said the trust has nothing to do with the money but claimed it belonged to the 12 devotees and they would appear before police to give their clarification.

Ratnakar told reporters on Thursday that he was seeking legal opinion in the case and would provide all the information to police.

The arrested people have reportedly told the police that the money was given by trust members.

The cash seizure sparked a huge row, with a section of devotees alleging that it was being transported out from Yajur Mandir, the residential quarter of Sathya Sai Baba.

The section of devotees is not ready to believe that only Rs 11.56 crore, 98 kg gold and gold jewellery and 307 kg silver articles were found in Yajur Mandir, which was opened June 17, nearly two months after the Baba's demise.

Taking a serious note of the allegations against the trust, the Andhra Pradesh government on Wednesday decided to seek a report from the trust about its activities and assets.

Ratnakar said the trust had not yet received any notice from the government. He said the trust was ready to provide all the details to the government.

This is the first time in four decades that the government has intervened in the activities of the trust. State Endowments Minister Ponnala Lakshmaiah said the allegations against the trust forced the government to intervene. He defended the action, saying the government wants to keep devotees informed of the facts.

Meanwhile, Anantapur police have assured all assistance to Income Tax (IT) authorities in the investigations into the unaccounted cash.

The police alerted the IT department soon after the cash was seized near Hindupur.

Sathya Sai Baba had floated the trust in 1970s to carry on the activities of his vast empire and run services and activities in areas of education and health.

The trust, which has its operations in India and over 50 other countries, is believed to have assets worth thousands of crores of rupees.