Open Letter to Prime Minister of India, Hon. A.B. Vajpayee,
By Barry Pittard, Australia, former Lecturer, Sri Sathya Sai College of the Arts, Science and Commerce, Whitefield, Karnataka.
Along with P.N. Bhagawati, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India, and Ranganath Mishra, Chair Person, National Human Rights Commissioner of India and former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India, you have co-signed a public letter defending Sathya Sai Baba of Puttaparthi, Andhra Pradesh.
In this letter, you speak of "wild, reckless and concocted allegations made by certain vested interests and people against Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba."
I am sixty years old, and a former Lecturer in English for two years at the Sathya Sai college at Whitefield, Karnataka, and a retired Australian College teacher. I am now active in co-ordinating the efforts of many former devotees worldwide who allege serious, long-sustained moral misconduct by Sathya Sai Baba. As responsible citizens, we have not, other than by you, been accused of wildness, recklessness or concoction. Many of us have resigned our membership (in some cases of high office) in the world Sathya Sai Organisation. I was deeply involved in devotion and service to him for twenty-five years, which is not untypical of quite a number of other dissenting former devotees.
On the kindest interpretation, your letter suggests that the signatories have made no enquiry into the provenance of the allegations being made against Sathya Sai Baba. It would be an exceptionally easy enquiry to make. Determining the facts was your, and your Sai devotee colleagues’, ethical and moral duty. Why did you hurl such accusations without giving any substantiation whatever? Since the overwhelming thrust of the dissent is coming from highly public, very well organised and networked former devotee activists in the exposure of Sathya Sai Baba, your remarks are clearly directed at us.
You would instantly find, as have many responsible media, such as the Times of London, Daily Telegraph, British Broadcasting Corporation, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Argentinean Azul TV "Zona de Investigación" and Danish Broadcasting Company investigative teams, that those making the allegations against Sathya Sai Baba are many former devotees of unblemished records for integrity. An integrity that you, P.N. Bhagawati and Ranganath Mishra have maligned.
Contrary to your calumnious statement, we have no “vested interests” and come from many countries, professions, trades and cultural backgrounds. Your joint letter continues, "We unequivocally condemn the baseless and malicious allegations being hurled upon Sathya Sai Baba in certain quarters," and you speak of those who make the allegations as "scurrilous."
Prime Minister, I draw your attention to:
Here, you will find among the signatories numerous former long-time devotees of Sathya Sai Baba. Many of them were office bearers and key personnel in his worldwide organisation. Our number includes founder members, presidents, secretaries, treasurers, activity co-ordinators, ‘bal vikas gurus,’ workshop leaders, etc. Our activities are not, as you would have it, “scurrilous.” This Petition by the former devotee coalition JuST (Just Seekers of Truth) is being presented to many governments, including your own. It outlines some key allegations against Sathya Sai Baba, notably relating to serial sexual abuse of minors and young men and complicity in homicides by police at Puttaparthi in 1993, and calls for a properly constituted official enquiry into them at the highest level. Will you initiate one? If not, please reveal why not.
These are the facts: Coming from various parts of the world (including India), minors, young men and their families have alleged various forms of sexual molestation by Sathya Sai Baba. Some men and women then in positions of trust and responsibility in the Sathya Sai organization carefully investigated the allegations both with the victims and their families. They, along with highly qualified, experienced sexual abuse counsellors are fully satisfied of the truth of the allegations. Unlike key prominent world leaders in the Sathya Sai Organisation (who are well apprised of the facts), some of us have painstakingly documented the considerable evidence, released it to governments at the highest level (including your own Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani), and to law enforcement agencies such as CBI New Delhi, FBI, Interpol, Scotland Yard, French National Police, German Chief Prosecutor’s Office, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Australian Federal Police.
Although others and I made representations to the then Director CBI New Delhi, Dr. R.K. Raghavan, your own national police force has not acted upon submissions made by responsible citizens of your own and other countries. Yet, the allegations have been treated with the highest seriousness by top officials in various countries, including the U.S. Ambassador to India (then Richard Celeste) and a dozen or so other senior U.S. State Department officials, and, in close association with them, the FBI. However, they and other foreign ministries tell us that they are hampered by inaction by the Indian authorities. Such inaction amounts to complicity in the abuse.
Can the INDIA TODAY cover article have escaped your attention or that of your or senior officers and colleagues? Did UNESCO's Media Advisory - well reported in India - elude your attention? It announced its withdrawal from a high-level education conference at Puttaparti in September 2000, giving several reasons for its grave displeasure, including the many serious allegations against Sathya Sai Baba.
The slightest investigation by you or your departmental officers would have revealed the ethical and moral status of our great many submissions - many of which are extensively available on the Internet. These have resulted in highly researched articles in very responsible media in countries such as U.S.A. (SALON.COM), U.K. (TIMES OF LONDON, DAILY TELEGRAPH), Denmark (BT), Sweden (SOKAREN), Holland (TROUW), Germany (BILD, FOCUS), India (INDIA TODAY), Australia (THE AGE), Canada (OTTAWA CITIZEN, TORONTO STAR, VANCOUVER SUN)…. Also, the BBC, ABC, and TV companies as mentioned above.
In regard to the 1993 killings at Puttaparthi, I direct your attention to the information supplied by Robert Priddy, which you can find under the subheading: Faith-shaking events - the 1993 murders,” at http://www.exbaba.com/articles/revelations.html Mr Priddy, a retired lecturer on philosophy and social science, the University of Oslo, Norway, has written searchingly of the startling revelations made to him by a friend very dear to both him and me, your great and often fearless former Indian newspaper editor, the late V.K. Narasimhan, who had unique access to Sathya Sai Baba. This and other evidence acutely question the role, for example, of former Home Minister S. B. Chavan, and indicate that he vitally assisted Puttaparthi ‘damage control.’ It suggests that Sathya Sai Baba, his brother Janaki Ramaiah, and his officials and the local, State and Centre police and government authorities have acted in an exceedingly questionable, suspicious manner. Those who have studied the facts know too well the many irregularities and abundant evasions by authorities, and, it would seem clear, criminal suppression of the facts.
Will you, Sir, as leader of the world’s largest democracy countenance the travesty of secularism reported in The Hindu, 10-6-1993: “When press persons met Mr. Indulal Shah, chief functionary of the Sri Sathya Sai World Trust, he said, ‘the matter is purely internal and we do not wish to have any law enforcement agency investigating into it.’” Is Puttaparthi a medieval fiefdom, above the reach of the law of India?
As you know, a great many people in all ranks of the Indian armed forces, police, judiciary, diplomatic corps, commerce, and so on, regard Sathya Sai Baba as God incarnate. Unless you and your government act on behalf of truthfulness and justice, how well will Sathya Sai Baba’s inevitable national and international unmasking reflect upon your country? Your own reputation is at risk here. Your deliberate failure to act causes obvious and legitimate questions to be asked about whether votes and donations to you and your party are your real considerations.
I note that you and the co-signatories refer to Sathya Sai Baba as ‘Bhagawan.’ Surely, this is to affirm your acceptance of his own self-styled Godhood, since he has often proclaimed himself the fullest Avatar of all time, the one who has incarnated to save the entire world in his own lifetime, of which fact you certainly cannot be unaware. No supra-phenomenal manifestation related to Sathya Sai Baba - on however great and widespread a scale - could exculpate him or any religious teacher from terrible offences against boys and young men, or complicity in police killings and resultant cover-ups.
That you would have motive to malign dissident, former Sathya Sai Baba devotees, other than pious belief in the one you refer to as 'Bhagawan', may be indicated by some salient facts. For the survival of your coalition Government, you vitally need 29 seats from his State of Andhra Pradesh, and hefty 'donations'. It is evident enough that you co-signed the letter as your part of the deal, making your interest political not religious.
Further, it is well known in Whitehall (and, I assure you, soon enough beyond) that you complained to Tony Blair about the adverse publicity in the UK about Sathya Sai Baba. After initial promise, the UK Government took no action on a Motion in The House of Commons asking for warnings to be issued about the risks to young boys from Sai Baba. Yet, nearly 50 British MPs of various parties signed this Petition. Two months later, Ben Bradshaw, a former Foreign Office Minister, went, as Blair's confidential emissary, secretly to India to arrange a deal involving Hawke Aircraft. Despite heavy criticism from a Select Committee of the House of Commons, the secret Blair-Vajpayee arms deal succeeded. After showing real interest in finding a way to issue official warnings against Sai Baba, the UK government dropped all action by all its agencies. What prompted this change of course was your complaint to the British Prime Minister, in November 2001, on your visit to London about adverse British Publicity about Sai Baba. The British Government's reward was a highly lucrative arms deal. Your reward was British silence and fighter aircraft. This is not a very morally attractive sequence of events.
I shall make this letter extensively available to the Indian and international media, Foreign Ministries around the world, heads of law enforcement agencies, and on the Internet. I now request that you:
Barry Pittard, Australia. firstname.lastname@example.org
Link to letter signed by A.B. Vajpayee and other members of the Indian Government in defense of Sathya Sai Baba
A NEW ZEALAND BARRISTER ANALYSES POLICE EVIDENCE
Warren C. Pyke LLN (Hons.) LLM (VUW), Barrister, New Zealand 3-3-1993
I COMMENT ON THE Remand Report of the Superintendent of Police, CID Cuddapah. Assuming that his findings have not been materially contradicted, which is the position as I understand it, his report clearly calls for a thorough and impartial inquiry into the deaths in Sai Baba’s room. Any one of the following grounds would be sufficient in my opinion, but combined the case for such an inquiry is overwhelming.
a) The contradictory eye-witness evidence of V. Jagadish, contradictory that is to the local Police Officer’s statements – the fact that he observed the broken door before the police arrived and was possibly the last independent witness to speak to the deceased makes his evidence significant and most material;
b) The contradictory eye-witness evidence of D. Peddireddy, contradictory that is to the local Police Officer’s statements – he says that he broke the wooden plank that was holding the door and saw the deceased in the room after he did so, once again this is most significant material and corroborates the evidence of Jagadish;
c) The absence of injury to the CI and the nature of the minor injuries to the other Police Constables is inconsistent with their story of a struggle and their need to open fire, but is not inconsistent (I deliberately use a double negative here) with the account of Jagadish and Peddireddy;
d) The position of the deceased after death is inconsistent with the Police version but consistent with them still being in the room after the door was broken, as observed by Jagadish and Peddireddy;
e) The nature of the gunshot wounds to the deceased are entirely inconsistent with the Police Officer’s claim of self-defence but are entirely consistent with a very close range discharge;
f) The fact that the bodies were moved is sufficient to warrant an inquiry as this clearly shows that the crime scene was deliberately altered after the fact;
g) The absence of possession by the deceased of the alleged knives after death strongly suggests that they posed no threat to the Officers, although it cannot be ruled out that the knives were dropped in the alleged melee;
h) The evidence about when the shots were heard: independent and reputable witnesses, Balachandra, Sahani, Vatsava all say 1 a.m., which is consistent with the post mortem report as to time of death; this contradicts the Police evidence by a full 1 ½ hours (11.30 p.m. cf 1 a.m.): this cannot be explained by any suggested error in the post mortem;
i) The number of rounds discharged and the position of the bullets after firing show that some firing was not directed at a specific target. Given the police assertion of self-defence which, if believed, would suggest that the firing would have been carefully aimed so as to avoid shooting their fellow officers (given the confined space), the Police evidence as to the nature of their firing is incredible.
Given the matters outlined in the Remand Report, the failure to further investigate and prosecute the Police Officers involved is a shame and a disgrace to the law enforcement body responsible and to the judiciary who have consistently failed to intervene. No self-respecting and principled law enforcement body or judicial system would tolerate such a situation. In the case of multiple murders, there can be no justification for ignoring.
Warren C. Pyke, (4th Floor, NZI Building, Garden Place, Hamilton, New Zealand)