The vehicle that was found carrying Rs 35.5 lakh on June 19 belonged to Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust member V Srinivasan, a senior functionary of the trust has told the police.
The police questioned chief security officer B Pradhan, whose office maintains the records of all vehicles passing through the main gate of the Prashanti Nilayam complex (as the area housing the trust is called).
Police sources said after Pradhan’s revelation about Srinivasan, they directed the latter to appear before the superintendent of police, Anantapur, for questioning.
The money reportedly belonged to the Sri Sathya Sai Central Trust (SSSCT), which the spiritual guru ran.
Two rounds of seizure were made, on June 18 and 19, from Bangalore-bound vehicles.
The issue has acquired a political colour. The opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has termed the goings-on in the trust a big scam. TDP leader GMK Naidu has alleged a central minister and two ministers in the Andhra Pradesh government are involved in siphoning off the late spiritual guru Sathya Sai Baba’s assets.
Another SSSCT member and Sathya Sai Baba’s nephew, RJ Ratnakar, has asked for time till Saturday to appear before the police for questioning regarding the transfer of cash from the trust premises.
The SSSCT is facing heat from the state government as well as the income-tax (I-T) department. The state government has served the SSSCT notice, asking it to give details of its activities, funds and assets all over the world. Endowments minister Ponnala Lakshmaiah justified the intervention and said the allegations against the trust forced the government to act.
I-T sleuths reached Puttaparthi for investigation. The district administration had alerted them about the cash seizure.
The I-T team sought police protection to conduct its probe. “We will render all help to the I-T team,” a police officer said.