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Ravi Shankar Denies Firing Was Due To Internal Rivalry

Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Monday  dismissed suggestions that the firing at his ashram could be due to some internal rivalry and said police cannot absolve itself of its responsibility by
PTI May 31, 2010 21:01 IST

Art of Living founder Sri Sri Ravi Shankar on Monday  dismissed suggestions that the firing at his ashram could be due to some internal rivalry and said police cannot absolve itself of its responsibility by taking it lightly and should investigate properly.

"Let us not speculate on this. It cannot be brushed off as some personal enmity. I am very hurt at such reports," he told reporters here when asked about reports on some police personnel indicating that the firing might have been due to internal rivalry among devotees. 

Describing such reports as "baseless", he said, "Police cannot absolve itself of its responsibility by taking it lightly. It has to be investigated properly. The fact is that the bullet was fired in the direction of my car and a devotee has been injured. It has to be taken seriously and probed." 

An unidentified gunman had yesterday fired a shot at the convoy of the 54-year-old spiritual leader when he was returning to his 'kutir' after delivering a discourse to his followers. On DGP Ajai Kumar Singh terming the firing as an incident and not an attack, he said, "What is an attack. What is an incident. I do not know." 

Meanwhile, administrative head of the ashram Narendra Lamba said, "It could be a threat, it could be a terror attack. Police has to take the responsibility and probe." 

On what he meant by terror attack, Lamba said it could have been "to create some confusion, some chaos and settle some score or the other. Not a score with Guruji (Ravi Shankar), but since he has reformed many Naxalites who have come here, surrendered, transformed and joined the mainstream, this may not go well with others." 

Recounting the firing incident, Ravi Shankar said after finishing the 'satsang', we reach the car and boarded it "and it had just started moving when we heard a loud sound, thought it could be something which had fallen down, a cracker burst or a generator burst. It took us sometime to figure out exactly what had happened." 

Ravi Shankar said it did take some time to report to police as the facts had to be ascertained properly. Besides, the police station was 45 minutes away from the ashram and heavy rains hampered communication. 

"When we called the police, they did not think it was a big (incident) and thought they could come later as it was raining...I do not have any enemies. In my 55 years, I have not cursed anybody. I cannot understand what could be the motive. It is for the police to investigate," he said. He, however, said, "I am happy with the security cover I have.I do not need anymore security. It will create a distance between me and the devotees." 

"I have forgiven him (attacker). Let him come here to do 'pranayama'. He will be reformed," he said. 

The spiritual leader said in the past, many from Jharkhand and Kashmir who had come to the ashram had surrendered, reformed and joined the mainstream. People from all religions had come here and gained from the experience, he said. Secretary to Ravi Shankar, Girin Govind, said the firing took place when Guruji had just boarded the car and closed the door and not after the convoy left. 

"He had just got into the car, closed the door.I was driving the car, we just started moving when we heard the loud noise," he said. 

Vinay Kollur Muth, a software engineer from Belgaum and working in Bangalore, who had suffered a minor injury when the bullet grazed his thigh, said, "After attending the satsang, I and my batch mates, about 20 or 30, were standing near the footwear stand. There was a big sound. Something came and hit my thigh.I felt great pain and burning sensation and I observed a bullet lying near my feet. I informed the security guard about it."

Meanwhile, Home Minister P Chidambaram on Monday  said Sri Sri Ravishankar "may not" have been the target of firing at his convoy last night and the incident could be the result of a dispute between two of his disciples. 

"Our reports says that the incident took place after Sri Sri Ravishankar left the place in his car and, therefore, it may not be correct, I underline, may not be correct to say that the firing was aimed at him," Chidambaram said during his press conference in New Delhi. The Home Minister said an oral report has been received on the incident but a written report is expected.

"It seems to be a dispute or a brawl between two of his followers. One of them has been injured in his thigh but is not in danger," he said. Earlier, Karnataka Director General of Police also termed it as an "incident" and said it was not a "targeted attack" on the spiritual leader. The security of Ravishankar, the founder of Art of Living (AOL), has been beefed up, they said. 

"I do not call it an attack. It is an incident. Whether it was meant at a person or not, we cannot say at the moment", DGP Ajaikumar Singh, who visited the ashram, told reporters in Bangalore. Giving details about the firing, Singh said the bullet was fired from about 700 to 750 feet away and so far nobody has claimed responsibility for the attack. He said the ammunition found at the site is .32 mm and it is a versatile one that could be used for a variety of weapons, he said.

In a letter to Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, BJP President Nitin Gadkari on Monday  condemned the attack on spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar and said no effort should be spared in ensuring his security. 

"The shocking incident has deeply disturbed me. I strongly condemn this cowardly act on the part of unscrupulous elements. I am confident your government will book the culprits at the earliest," Gadkari said in his letter to the Chief Minister of the BJP ruled state. He also urged the Central government to provide adequate security cover to the spiritual guru. PTI