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Telangana activists upset with Sai Baba

The statement has not gone down well with the supporters of a separate Telangana state, reports Ashok Das.

india Updated: Jan 23, 2007 03:38 IST
Ashok Das

Controversy is nothing new to Godman Satya Sai Baba of Putaparthi.

This time around, the frizzy-haired, saffron-robed savant has firmly and publicly opposed the division of Andhra Pradesh, thus raising the hackles of those who support the movement for a separate Telangana state.

“There is no demand from the people for a separate Telangana. Dividing the people or the country is not good. Bifurcating the state in such a manner is mahapapam (great sin),” Sai said on Sunday while speaking at a function in Chennai.

The statement has not gone down well with the supporters of a separate Telangana state, including the outlawed Maoists. Angered by what he said, a group of youths on Monday attacked the Sivam temple, the local outfit of Sai Baba situated near Osmania University.

The youths, shouting anti-Sai Baba slogans, entered the premises and pulled down a hoarding sporting the holy man’s face. They then dragged it to the main road and set it on fire.

“Not a single devotee but only some of us were present at the temple when the attack took place. The miscreants retreated soon after burning the hoarding,” a temple staff told Hindustan Times.

Following the incident, the temple authorities lodged a complaint at the Amberpet police station. Officers started an investigation and have arrested 20 people thus far. The pilgrim town of Putaparthi observed a bandh to protest the attack on Sai Baba.

But opposition to Sai Baba’s views does not end with the youths. Political leaders supporting Telengana also came out strongly against him. Leader of Telangana Rasthra Samithi and former Union Minister K Chandra Sekhar Rao asked Baba to limit his business to giving religious discourses and tending to devotees. “Otherwise, he should quit religion and join politics,” Rao said.

Congress MP Madhu Yakshi Goud echoed similar sentiments too. She asked what Sai Baba was doing when people were dying of flurosis in Telangana for ages? Revolutionary poet and Maoist sympathiser Gaddar also asked Sai Baba to “shut up”.