Hyderabad: The state government may withdraw the exemption granted to the Satya Sai Central Trust under Section 154 of the Hindu Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act, 1997.
This step, if taken, may provide a handle to the government and pushes the Trust under the control of the rulers.
It may be remembered that the state government has alerted the police to probe the Trust’s financial irregularities and act tough with the erring members. The police had already served notices on Trust Members Ratnakar and V Srinivasan asking them to appear before the Superintendent of Police for interrogation.
The Puttaparthi DSP was also transferred for his alleged cooperation with the Trust members in siphoning off wealth from the personal chamber of the late Satya Sai Baba. The local Revenue officials had been told to submit a report on whether land transactions were carried out by the Trust members.
However, adopting a judicious approach, the government was waiting to examine the response (already submitted) to notice from the Trust members and proceed further, the Endowments Minister had said earlier.
It is clear that the government had been moving pawns on the chessboard carefully to close in on the Trust.
The controversy raging the Trust has been identified with alleged embezzlement of titanic funds had emboldened the state government and it may lay its hands on the wealth of the Trust.
Doubts have arisen that the government which kept aloof from the said Trust for the last 40 years may make advances to ‘capture’ the enormous assets.
It is pertinent to recall that at one stage there were clear signals from government to ‘siphon off gradually the enormous funds of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams, Tirumala, but the idea was given up for many reasons.
According to sources, Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy had already held a round of discussions with the officials of Intelligence and Endowments and Chief Secretary S V Prasad over the allegations of irregularities in the Trust; the body that controls the empire of spiritual head of Prashanti Nilayam Satya Sai who had gathered the amount and then spent a major part of it for the development of Puttaparthi.
The state government had been weighing various options before initiating any move for the take-over.
The Baba’s immense following in most of the countries was said to be watching the current proceedings keenly.
In any case, the fact remains that the development of Puttaparthi has been phenomenal.
Only under the late Satya Sai Baba’s aegis, a railway station, an airport, a super speciality hospital and so on came up. The list of his contribution to the district of Anantapur in the parched Rayalaseema region is endless. In early eighties Puttaparthi was rather isolated.
There was no connectivity either. Transport system was missing. Safe water was scarce. The dusty town, 435 km from Hyderabad, has now been turned into an international hub.
Today Puttaparthi presents a different picture with so many facilities. The Puttaparthi airport receives a plane every half an hour. There are 15 luxury hotels, 200 novelty shops, 200 cloth merchants, 150 flower vendors and 25000 families and 4000 labourers depend on the Sai’s ashram.
Said a retailer there, “we are alive because of the Baba.”
After the exit of the Godman, the focus on his funds has been intensified. However one source pointed out that with members like Justice P N Bhagwati on board the Trust, no ‘misadventure’ or siphoning off funds would be possible. Besides this, the Justice will give stiff opposition to government overtures, the sources opine.
The Trust is said to be regularly paying income tax and possessed receipts of the donations made in cash. Trust member Srinivasan has already said that a committee has been constituted to look after the Trust’s bank accounts.
The money, which was seized by the police while being transferred to Bangalore, was provided to build a Mahasamadhi in the Kulwant Hall, the Trust has claimed. The Central Trust did not want to undertake the project as devotees had approached and donated money, Srinivasan had clarified.
The Income Tax officers, boosted by a Court ruling are likely to search the Prashanti Nilayam and personal chamber of the late Baba.
Satyajit who was the Satya Sai Baba’s personal aide, had declared that he had nothing to do with the activities of the Trust.(INN)