The Special Investigation Team probing the death of Lakshmivara Theertha, the 30th seer of the Shiroor Mutt, has detained Ramya Shetty, a resident of Udupi, in connection with the case.
Ramya, who was close to the seer and had allegedly taken over the daily affairs of the mutt, had attempted an escape in a burqa along with five other women on Saturday evening. She was detained by the Udupi police officers with help from the police at Venoor Police Station at Aladangady in Belthangady taluk.
The police in Venoor confirmed to TNM that Ramya was trying to escape, but was caught near Belthangady. However, they did not reveal the identities of the five other women with her.
Ever since the seer passed away, she has been grilled by the SIT from time to time and was reportedly kept under close observation in Udupi town, police sources said.
Her association with the mutt and the seer started when she came to the mutt as a devotee. However, her role increased and she reportedly would prepare food for the seer every day by herself. Media reports cited sources saying that she is the mother of a five-year-old child, and she and her partner had got a divorce.
Meanwhile, police sources in Udupi confirmed that one of the DVR tapes with CCTV footage of Shiroor mutt, which had gone missing, has been found and the police will continue their investigation in the case.
Udupi SP Laxman Nimbargi has remained tight-lipped since the beginning of the investigation and said that he will comment when the toxicology reports arrive from the Forensic Science Laboratory.
The popular seer had died early in the morning on July 19 after he was admitted to a hospital with symptoms of food poisoning. A preliminary investigation by the Kasturba Hospital, in Manipal, where he was admitted, had suggested poisoning as a potential cause of his death.
The official statement from Kasturba had said the seer had died of major gastrointestinal bleeding even though he had undergone dialysis and blood transfusion. At the time of admission, he had complained of breathlessness.