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Youth held with gun in Sai Baba ashram

ANGALORE: A man armed with an air pistol was nabbed at the Whitefield Ashram of Sri Sathya Sai Baba on Thursday. Following this, commotion prevailed in the Ashram just before the scheduled morning darshan of Baba.

The intruder had an air pistol and pellets in his posession. Police said he was planning to hold some security personnel hostage in order to get darshan of the Baba.
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Police said Baba was to scheduled to give darshan at the Sai Ramesh Hall in his Brindavan Ashram. Devotees mumbling prayers were queuing up to get into the hall when inmates noticed a pistol butt peeping out of a jacket worn by a youth standing in the queue. The inmates grabbed the youth as he offered resistance and whisked him away. They disarmed him and detained him in one of the rooms. The pistol and pellets were seized.

Several devotees, including women, panicked and ran helter skelter. Meanwhile, rumours circulated that the youth had come to kill Baba in the Ashram.

The police reacted swiftly and led the youth to the Kadugodi police station. Senior police officers, including DGP V VBhaskar, IGP Central Range N Achyutha Rao and SP Bangalore District Bhaskar Rao, visited the Ashram and interrogated the youth. He was led away to to an undisclosed location for questioning.

The youth was later identified as Somasundara from Dharmapuri district in Tamil Nadu.

Preliminary investigation revealed that the youth was a staunch devotee of Baba who wanted to have a personal audience with him.

In the the past, Somasundara had written several letters to Baba in Telugu asking for some help to start a business to help unemployed people in his village. He did not get any response.

His game plan now was to hold one of the Ashram security staff hostage at gun point to force Baba to accord him an interview. It is not possible for people to meet Baba unless they are called by him personally.

According to the police, the youth was seen at the Ashram in the last three days. He managed to take the pistol with him by hiding it in his socks. Later, he moved it to his jacket.

"His intention was only to get an interview with Baba, not to cause any harm," said Superitendent of Police Bhaskar Rao. However, a case has been registered in the Kadugodi police station against Somasundara.

Police have taken the incident seriously in the wake of the recent reports alleging that Baba was on the hit-list of the LTTE. The security in Puttaparthi and Bangalore Ashrams had been intensified following these reports.

It may be recalled that four people were shot dead in the Puttaparthi Ashram while attempting to attack Baba several years ago.

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