Hyderabad: Police in Andhra Pradesh`s Anantapur district on Sunday seized Rs 35.5 lakh from a car belonging to the Sathya Sai Central Trust that manages the spiritual empire of the late Sathya Sai Baba. But the trust denied that the cash belongs to it.
Sai Baba`s nephew and trust member RJ Ratnakar clarified on Sunday evening that the trust has nothing to do with the cash. He said in a statement that the cash belongs to 12 devotees and they would give all the details to police.
Ratnakar`s statement came after police seized the cash from the vehicle at Bagepally toll-gate near Hindupur town and arrested one person identified as Harishnanda Shetty.
Shetty, who was taking the cash from Puttaparthi to Bangalore, told police that driver of a trust member gave him the money.
Shetty works as an engineer in a construction company owned by the trust member. A police officer said the man would be taken to Puttaparthi for investigations.
The money was seized two days after the trust opened Yajur Mandir, the residential quarters of the Sai Baba at Prashanti Nilayam in Puttaparthi.
The trust on Friday declared that it found Rs 11.56 crore, 98 kg gold and gold jewellery and 307 kg of silver articles inside which had been deposited with the State Bank of India (SBI).
The arrest and recovery of money has strengthened the apprehensions of a section of devotees that huge amounts of cash and jewellery might have been shipped out of Yajur Mandir when Sai Baba was battling for life in a hospital.
The spiritual guru passed away April 24.
Some devotees claimed Yajur Mandir had hundreds of crores of rupees cash, ornaments, diamonds and other articles gifted by his followers in India and abroad.
According to them, most of the cash and other valuables were slipped out of Prashanti Nilayam when Baba was in hospital.
As the news of police seizing the cash spread, Ratnakar visited Yajur Mandir Sunday morning. He was accompanied by another member SV Giri.
Meanwhile, police in Puttaparthi started checking vehicles at exit points.
The Andhra Pradesh government said it would intervene if the trust was found not discharging its responsibilities.
Revenue Minister Raghuveera Reddy, who hails from Anantapur district, said action would be taken if anyone was found guilty.