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‘Rs.35 lakh cash does not belong to Trust'

Staff Reporter

Sathya Sai Central Trust clarifies the money belonged to 12 different people

PHOTO: R.V.S. PRASAD

CLEARING THE AIR:Trustee V. Srinivasan (right) of the Sathya Sai Central Trust speaking to the media at Puttaparthi on Tuesday. Member of the council of management Naganand is also seen. —

PUTTAPARTHI: The Sathya Sai Central Trust categorically stated here on Tuesday that the cash of Rs.35 lakh seized at the Kodikonda checkpost by police recently did not belong to the Trust but to 12 different people.

Trustees R. J. Ratnakar and V. Srinivasan, who were in the thick of controversy following seizure of the cash, had only facilitated the money being placed before the regal chair of Sathya Sai Baba in Yajur Mandir.

Mr. Srinivasan explained at a crowded press conference in Prashanthi Nilayam that the Trust did not wish to get involved with the finances of the construction of the Mahasamadhi as it was a public charitable trust and that the law did not permit them to undertake religious activity.

He said the Trust had decided not to directly undertake the construction but facilitate the devotees to do so under its supervision to ensure quality and aesthetics. The Trust took this decision as it was flooded with offers from devotees to pay for the Samadhi work. Shankarnarayana Consultancy Company of Bangalore was appointed as project consultant.

Mr. Naganand -- member of the council of management of the Sathya Sai Central Trust -- said there were no restrictions on people giving donations in cash to a consultancy to be used for the construction of the Mahasamadhi. He added that the said company was no stranger to Puttaparthi and had in fact even donated work worth crores of rupees, even when not asked for, out of devotion to the late Sathya Sai Baba.

Asked if the Trust would be compliant if the government decided to take on a monitoring role over the Trust, Mr. Srinivasan said, “I do not see any need for the government to set up a separate mechanism”, and that if and when such a decision was taken, the Trust would not have a problem.

He said even without a demand note from the Income-Tax Department, they had paid Rs.9.75 crore as tax on the income attached to the inventory of valuables found in the Yajur Mandir.

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