The multi-crore empire that Sai Baba of Puttaparthi built over the years turned out to be target of those who wanted to grab it by any means.
There were wide-spread irregularities in managing the trust’s funds with Prashanti Nilayam as its central headquarters.
Dissent among the people in close proximity around him led to infighting among the devotees and trust members. The trust’s bank accounts swelled to 150 and that led to bloodshed.
The murder attempt on Sai Baba on June 6, 1993, had hit headlines globally.
Six people died in the tussle, two killed by the assailants and four shot dead at point-blank range by the local police, who had rushed to the Godman’s bedroom on hearing the shouts for help.
Radhakrishna Menon, his personal driver, Sai Kumar Mahajan, a volunteer at Prashanti Nilayam, Baba’s spiritual headquarters, were killed when they attempted to stop the armed youths trying to enter Baba’s bedroom. The youths were identified as two students studying commerce in Sathya Sai Institute of Higher Studies — EK Suresh Kumar and K Sai Kumar — Suresh Shantaram Prabhu, a marine engineer, and N Jagannadh. They were shot by the local police, apparently in cold blood. Two more, Vijay Shantaram Prabhu and B Ravindra, who allegedly planned the attack managed to escape. They were nabbed near Nagpur after a month-long manhunt.
The incident had sent shockwaves across the country and 137 other countries, among his devotees. Everything went in a hush-hush manner including the police investigation that followed, so powerful was Baba’s influence among the state’s highest seat of power and with the Union government. Nobody took his name throughout the entire investigation that progressed soon after.
However, Baba cleared the cloud over the murder attempt. He went on to tell that there was no bid on his life. Baba had his men and women in all walks of life, including the bureaucracy and police. Big politicians were at his feet ready to serve him.
There was continuous interference in the investigation that followed and several top officers were either transferred or sent to hold insignificant posts. There were allegations of a cover-up by the then Union home minister SB Chavan and the Andhra Pradesh government.
The surviving assailants, meanwhile, told the investigators that they had no intention of killing Baba but to inform him about some trust members who wanted to usurp his powers. They said they wanted to inform this to him so that he could take the reigns from those fighting for supremacy.