ibnlive » India

Jun 18, 2007 at 05:13am IST

Sai Baba lands in a Telangana row

New Delhi: A remark attributed to Sri Satya Sai Baba, in which he apparently said that any attempt to create a Telangana state by bifurcating Andhra Pradesh would be 'mahapapam' (a sin), has drawn strong protests from the Opposition parties in the state as well as Telangana Rashtra Samiti activists.

Protesting the alleged remark made by the spiritual guru, people went on a rampage at a Sai Baba temple in Hyderabad on Monday, which resulted in a showdown between the Sai Baba followers and the protesters.

According to reports, dozens of students belonging to Telangana Rashtra Samiti barged into a Sai Baba temple near Osmania University and pulled down some huge cutouts of Sai Baba. The protesters shouted slogans against him and trampled on the cutouts before setting them on fire. They also burnt an effigy of Sai Baba

IN A MESS: In a remark attributed to him, Sai Baba said the demand for statehood was a 'sin'.

Sai Baba's followers immediately called a shutdown in the Puttaparthi town of Anantapur district to condemn the outrage against the guru.

Addressing a function in Chennai Sunday, Sai Baba said there was no demand for a separate Telangana state from the people of the region. "Dividing the people or the country is not good. Bifurcating the state is mahapapam," he said.

Opposition Telugu Desam Party also reacted with surprise to the remark attributed to the spiritual guru. Senior TDP leader and MLA Ch Rajeswar Rao said he was surprised at the Sri Satya Sai Baba's comment on the issue of a separate Telangana state.

Referring to Baba's statement at a programme in Chennai on Sunday that the demand for statehood was a 'sin', Rao said the Telangana issue was a matter of sentiment. Everyone should understand the sentiments of the people of Telangana.

The Andhra Pradesh Congress Committee, however, took exception to what it termed as scores of 'misinterpretations' attributed to the comments of Satya Sai Baba. "All that Baba wanted to emphasis was unity and human oneness. But reference to Telangana in his speech was unfortunately misread," APCC president K Kesava Rao said.

Sai Baba, who claims to be reincarnation of Hindu God and preaches love, understanding and universal brotherhood, has thousands of followers in India and abroad including several heads of state, eminent politicians, military officials, judges, film stars and sportsmen.

TRS president K Chandrasekhara Rao asked Sai Baba to confine himself to religion. "Is Sai Baba blind to the suicides by farmers in Telangana region? Is he blind to the fact that the region was subjected to exploitation?" he asked.

Sai Baba, who celebrated his 81st birthday recently, had declared at the age of 15 that he was no ordinary human being, but had come to the earth to fulfill the wishes of the saints and sages. Sai Baba is known for performing miracles like producing gold out of thin air. But about a decade ago, he stopped doing them in the wake of a controversy and a challenge by rationalists to prove his miracles in their presence.