Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram said on Monday that it would not be correct to say that spiritual guru Sri Sri Ravishankar was the target of firing on Sunday evening near Bangalore.

“The incident of firing could have been the result of a dispute between two of his disciples. Reports received by us say that the firing took place after Sri Sri Ravishankar had left the place in his car and, therefore, it may not be correct, I underline, may not be correct to say that the firing was aimed at him,'' Mr. Chidambaram told journalists here.

The Home Minister said that an oral report had been received on the incident but a written report from the State government was expected soon. “It seems to be a dispute or a brawl between two of his followers. One of them has been injured in his thigh but is not in danger,'' he said.

An unidentified person fired a round at the convoy of the spiritual guru when he was leaving after a “satsang'' in his ashram on Sunday evening.

An accident: police

Bangalore Staff Reporter writes:

The Karnataka police on Monday termed the firing at the campus of the Art of Living run by Sri Sri Ravishankar an “accident.”

“I term it an incident. This can be inferred from the trajectory of the bullet and the distance from which it was fired,” said Director General and Inspector General of State Police Ajai Kumar Singh.

Speaking to journalists at the ashram premises, Mr. Singh said investigations show that it was neither an “attack” nor the ashram founder its target.

A person called Vinay Kumar from the ashram heard the sound of firing and found his thigh injured. He said the incident occurred between 6.05 p.m. and 6.10 p.m., about five minutes after Sri Sri Ravishankar left the venue of the satsang in a car. There is no bleeding on Vinay Kumar's thigh. There is discoloration of skin.

It appeared as though the bullet had grazed his leg and had been fired from a distance of 700 metres. There were others standing with Mr. Kumar and it also looked as if the shot had been aimed high. “It looks like a dead bullet [a bullet with low velocity],” the State police chief added.

Though Mr. Kumar informed the security in-charge of the ashram around 6.15 p.m., the authorities concerned had alerted the police only around 9.15 p.m. A good three hours, which are crucial, were lost and it hampered the investigation, another officer, who wished to remain anonymous, told The Hindu.

Girin Govind, secretary of the ashram's founder, said: “We tried to contact the Thalaghattapur sub-inspector, but he had switched off his mobile phone. Later we alerted the Thalaghattapur police inspector around 8.15 p.m. He took about 90 minutes to reach the ashram.”

Inspector General of Police (Central) Kamal Panth and Superintendent of Police B.A. Mahesh arrived at the spot with Forensic Science Laboratory officials around 11 p.m. The bullet had been fired from a 0.32 pistol and not a country-made pistol. A case has been registered under the Indian Arms Act and Section 307 (causing grievous hurt) of the Indian Penal Code, Mr. Singh said.

The police officials are talking to other ashramites, including its founder. Nobody, including Vinay Kumar, had seen the person who fired the gun, Mr. Singh said. Meanwhile, the spiritual leader addressed a press conference at his ashram on Monday and said: “I do not want a security wall between me and my devotees and am happy with the existing security.

“I have forgiven the person who fired at me. I request him to come forward and attend a two-day spiritual course at the ashram so that he could come out of such destructive activities. I do not have any enemies. But the police should not hush up the matter,” he said.