Firing mystery deepens

Ravi Shankar sees motive behind incident, but DGP differs

Firing mystery deepens

Sri Sri Ravi Shankar at the Art of Living Ashram in Bangalore on Monday. DH Photo/ Vishwanath Suvarna

While in New Delhi Union Home Minister P Chidambaram cited the DGP’s report to state that it may not be correct to say that the firing was aimed at Ravi Shankar, the “Guruji” was clearly upset by the DGP’s statement and attributed it to a communication gap.

The contradiction was centred around the timing of the episode. Singh maintained that Ravi Shankar was not present at the spot when the reported firing took place. “The unidentified person opened fire five minutes after the Guruji left the place,” he told the media at Ravi Shankar’s ashram on Kanakpura Road.

Singh’s contention was: “The suspect did not seem to target either the Guruji or his devotee. Moreover, the devotee was not injured. A small portion of his trouser tore apart and the bullet slightly changed the colour of the thigh where it touched,” the DGP pointed out.

Chidambaran said the incident could be the result of a rivalry between two of Ravi Shankar’s followers. And if it was proved, the State Police would probe how the disciples got guns into the ashram premises, the Union minister said. An oral report had been received on the firing, though a written one was awaited.

 Elaborating on the “communication gap,” Ravi Shankar said: “I believe the police misinterpreted what our officials stated. The incident did not happen five minutes after I left the place. It happened five minutes after I completed the ‘satsang’ (meeting of devotees) and while I was getting into my car.

“How could I hear the noise if I had not been there on the spot or if it had taken place five minutes after I left the premises?”

Ravi Shankar then went on to describe the sound to give further proof that he was at the meeting venue when the firing took place.

“First, I thought some tyre or generator might have burst. I also felt that something must have fallen from a tree creating the noise. I did not bother as I had two more religious programmes to attend,” the spiritual leader recalled.

Ravi Shankar’s version

According to Ravi Shankar, the police version is a step towards taking the issue lightly. “They should properly investigate. The police should not shirk responsibility,” he said.
The firing incident, according to Singh, occurred between 6.05 pm and 6.10 pm. The ashram officials informed the Harohalli police inspector around 9.15 pm. The message reached the Ramanagara superintendent of police around 10 pm. The three-hour delay in alerting the police was being probed, said Singh.

Ravi Shankar had an explanation for this. He said it took about 45 minutes for those inside the ashram to figure out what exactly had happened. It would take more than half an hour for the nearest police station officials to reach the spot.

Moreover, there were about 9,000 devotees and there was heavy rain. He did not want to create panic among devotees. He needed to downplay the incident to not only avoid confusion and chaos but also a stampede. Ravi Shankar said there were people who wanted to attack him but he was not afraid. He would continue to spread the message of anti-terrorism and peace.

“My driver had a vision and told me that I may be attacked,” he told reporters. “Whoever has done this, I forgive him. I give him amnesty. I invite him to join ‘satsang’ course. I will teach him meditation and ‘Sudarshan Kriya.’ I want him to come here and experience peace and see what we are doing.”

Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa, on a visit to the Art of Living centre on Monday evening, preferred to remain silent when asked about Chidambaram’s statement that the attacker may not have targeted Ravi Shankar. He also did not comment on the home minister’s view that the incident could be an outcome of rivalry between two of his disciples. Yeddyurappa, however, promised a thorough inquiry into the episode.

Accompanied by State Energy Minister K Eshwarappa, Yeddyurappa expressed shock at the firing and ordered tightening of the ashram’s security. When his attention was drawn to Ravi Shankar’s refusal to take security cover, he said it was still the duty of the State Government to provide security to him.

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