Bangalore: Ravi Shankar survives bid on life

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Bangalore, 31 May 2010: Art of Living (AoL) founder guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar escaped an attempt on his life on Sunday evening when a man opened fire at him on the ashram premises at Kanakapura.

The gunman was caught by ashram securitymen and some devotees and handed over to the police.

The bullet missed Ravi Shankar but hit a bystander— identified as Vinay, a devotee and  resident of Bangalore— on the thigh. His injury was described as minor. The bullet was reportedly found near the shooting spot and handed over to the police.

The gunman, whose identity also was yet to be established, shot at Ravi Shankar around 6pm as the spiritual guru was getting into an Innova car after a “satsang,” an AoL spokesman said. Normally, Ravi Shankar  uses a battery-operated buggy to move around the ashram. On Sunday, he preferred the car, according to the spokesman.

As usual, the car was to be driven by a devotee. Not long ago, Ravi Shankar preferred to go on foot inside the ashram. But, these days, the spokesman said, the guru prefers a vehicle because of the press of devotees.

On Sunday, there were about 3,000 devotees at the “satsang” which was held at the “Yagnashalla” which is as big as a football field. Normally, “satsangs”are held in the adjoining Visalakshi Mantap.

On Sunday, the gathering took place under the roofed, wall-less auditorium because of the larger number of devotees, the spokesman said.

The “Yagnashalla,” which can hold over 20,000 people, is where the ashram’s Navratri celebrations are held.

Most devotees themselves were not aware of the firing. Nobody appears to have heard the gunshot either. According to devotees, there was no panic after the incident.

A spokesman said Ravi Shankar himself disclosed the incident at another gathering of devotees around 9:30 pm.

For the past ten days, Ravi Shankar has been conducting a discourse on “Ashtavakra Gita.”

The police, too, had sketchy details of the incident.

The Ramanagara police said they received a call around 10:30 pm that somebody had opened fire at the ashram. No complaint had been lodged, the police added. This ran counter to the ashram spokesman’s version that the gunman had been handed over to the police.

Home Minister VS Acharya said he was yet to receive complete information of the incident and was awaiting details.

“Ravi Shankar is a renowned religious and spiritual leader and has initiated many religious reforms. An IG-level officer is investigating the incident,” Acharya added.
Ravi Shankar himself  told TV channels later that  all was well. He appealed to his devotees to stay calm. He said he had been having discussions with several groups  on eliminating terror and violence from society. The  assailant could be linked to one of these groups. The guru invited such elements for discussion.


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