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May 27, 2017
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  •   Asia
    Mata forgives attacker; disciples see larger design


    THIRUVANATHAPURAM: India's "hugging saint" Mata Amritanandamayi, who survived an assassination bid on Sunday, has pardoned her assailant but her disciples said they suspect involvement of more people behind the attack.

    "Forgive him. The past has gone," the Mata, who has followers from different faiths in Asia and Europe, said, adding she has no problem to meet the assailant.

    She said she would continue to see her disciples, who were also asked to forgive the assailant. "Amma (the mother as she calls herself) doesn't give much importance to this incident," she said.

    Pavithran, 38, said to be a sympathiser of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), tried to attack her with a knife used for tapping rubber while she was giving darshan to some 18,000 devotees at her Vallikkavu ashram in Kerala's Kollam district.

    Three devotees were injured, one of them seriously, while overpowering him. The Mata continued to meet devotees till 5am on Monday after the incident that took place at 6.45 pm the previous day.

    Pavithran's parents claim he was mentally deranged. Police, who arrested him continued questioning him for the second day.

    The district superintendent of police, Santhosh Varma, said Pavithran tried to approach the Mata along a side entrance while she was chanting bhajans. Devotees noticed the assailant advancing menacingly towards the dais and stopped him just three metres away.

    Clad in a mundu (traditional Kerala attire), Pavithran took out a knife and attacked them. Arun, a devotee of Amma, sustained serious stab injuries while the other two volunteers, Dinesh and Ramesh, escaped with minor injuries.

    Police said the assailant admitted an earlier brush with police when he appeared as a witness to an incident in 1985 when his father was attacked by some religious activists.

    District collector B. Srinivas said he had alerted police to mount a strict vigil since the failed attack on Amma was amenable to various interpretations and misinterpretations. He said he was relieved that the assailant's identity had been established and there were no religious overtones to the incident.

    The 51-year-old Mata was in the news for her mission during the tsunami tragedy that killed 169 people and displaced hundreds of families in Kerala last year. She claims to have hugged more than 30 million people across the world helping them attain mental peace.

    Swamy Dhyana Amrita of the ashram said the mat was taking the incident seriously. "The whole thing is shrouded in mystery. It is not easy to accept theories like the man was mentally deranged. If he was a follower of Amma, why did he come to the ashram with a knife? Why did he rush to Amma and injured those who came on his way?" he asked.

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