Hyderabad, June 25 (IANS) Traders in the pilgrim town of Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh's Anantapur district Saturday observed a shutdown to protest the alleged irregularities committed by the Sathya Sai Central Trust members.
Shops and business establishments were voluntarily closed in the town as dozens of traders took out a rally, demanding the state government take over the trust in view of the allegations against trust members.
Holding placards and raising slogans, the protestors demanded the trust members come clean in view of the allegations that they are involved in misappropriation of money and valuables belonging to the trust.
As police intensified the probe into seizure of huge cash from a car last week, anger is sweeping among the business community in the town over the alleged acts of omission and commission by the trust.
Trust member and late Sathya Sai Baba's nephew R.J. Ratnakar is to appear before police later in the day while another member, V. Srinivasan, is likely to be quizzed Monday.
The police issued notices to two of the trust members after three people arrested with Rs.35.5 lakh on July 19 revealed they were transporting the cash from Puttaparthi to Bangalore on the instruction of the trust members.
Worried over the impact the controversies may have on their business, the traders are demanding that the government take over the trust, which manages the vast empire of Sai Baba.
The devotees, including the business community in Puttaparthi, want an administrative body on the lines of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam (TTD) to run the empire.
Taking a serious note of the goings on, the government June 22 sought a detailed report from the trust on its activities, its future programmes, assets and financial matters.
The government is also considering withdrawal of several exemptions enjoyed by the trust under the Endowment Act for last 35 years.
The trust, which runs educational and healthcare facilities in Puttaparthi, other parts of Anantapur, Bangalore and schools in various countries, has been facing series of allegations after the demise of Sathya Sai Baba April 24.