Self-styled godman "Kalki Bhagwan", whose ashrams were raided by Income Tax authorities last week, has released a video to reassure his followers, but has not commented on the huge amount of unaccounted cash and jewellery found during the raids. The findings included stacks of currency amounting to Rs 45 crore, 88 kg of gold, 1,271 carats of diamonds, plus cash receipts that suggest 600 crore rupees of undisclosed income.
Besides, links to investments in companies in India and abroad, including tax havens, were found by the officials after 40 places - ashrams, religious trusts and wellness centres run by him and his son Krishna -- were raided over five days. The locations were spread across Chennai, Bengaluru and Hyderabad.
In the video, the 70-year-old, accompanied by his wife, is heard saying: "We have not abandoned you. We have not left the country. We are at Nehman, conducting classes and helping you... Activities continue as usual".
"We would like to thank all our devotees, who stood by us and have been posting wonderful messages on social media," he added.
On Monday, the tax authorities gave an account of the findings. They also said they found evidence of "purchase of large tracts of land in India and abroad, and of large sums of money being through hawala network".
The Income Tax authorities in Chennai have also summoned the self-styled godman's son, Krishna, for investigation. Sources said he has admitted himself into a private hospital in the city to evade the proceedings. "Krishna has been summoned but he is yet to appear before us," a senior officer told NDTV.
The Amma Sri Baghavan Foundation underplayed the searches, seizures and allegations.
In a statement the foundation said: "The government keeps track of any developing organisation to ensure the functioning is on legal terms. We respect the nation's law. We would face it legally. We would abide by the government if our activities are not as per law".
The wellness classes at the Nemam ashram are out of bounds for the media.
Rajalakshmi, a devotee from Chennai who comes to the ashram every day, said: "The Guru saved my husband who has heart problems, without any surgery. Devotees donate a lot out of gratitude. He doesn't ask a single paise".
Another elderly woman added, "I have never offered more than Rs 10, though like beggars, we have received so much with his blessings".