Call For Media and Government Investigation

of Sathya Sai Baba And his worldwide cult, the Sathya Sai Organization

Posts Tagged ‘Police’

New Zealand Lawyer Exposes Official Cover Up of Killings In Sathya Sai Baba Bedroom

Posted by Barry Pittard on August 20, 2009

Long before worldwide allegations of Sathya Sai Baba’s serial sexual abuse of boys and young men began to surface in earnest – circa AD 2000 – notable individuals shocked by signs of cover up – started to analyze situations, and leave the Sathya Sai Baba camp. For an example of early investigators, see the article (I include it below) by Warren C. Pyke LLN (Hons.) LLM (VUW), Barrister, New Zealand 3-3-1993: Sathya Sai Baba Murders Evidence (A New Zealand Barrister Analyses Police Evidence).

Another earlier investigator of various serious allegations against Sathya Sai Baba was Terry Gallagher, an agricultural scientist and businessman who, in consequence of his findings, resigned as head of the Sathya Sai Organization in Australia. See: 

Terry Gallagher’s Testimony

I have recently blogged on an outspoken, retired senior Indian policeman,V. J. Ram, whose work as a detective won him a Presidential Medal.

V.J.Ram. Senior Indian Policeman. Presidential Award Recipient

Ram refers to appalling instances of the Sathya Sai Baba official ashram and Indian government cover up of the killings. See:

Senior Indian Policeman (Rtd) Speaks Out About Sathya Sai Baba Murders Cover Up

See, too, testimony to the BBC of former Home Secretary of Andhra Pradesh (Sathya Sai Baba’s State in South India):

Film Clip of V.P.B. Nair making his statement

Quote:

Tanya Datta (BBC): Velayudhan Nair rejects the police version of events. He should know. Until two thousand and two he was Home Secretary of Andhra Pradesh and in charge of the state police. On coming to office he examined the files and found that the original police report was riddled with lies and inconsistencies. This was later exposed by a CID investigation.
VPB Nair: Two or three daggers cannot be a match to roaring guns. So this story of the police being attacked and the police shooting in self-defence is totally baseless.
Tanya Datta: So are you suggesting that the police executed the boys that night?

VPB Nair: In absolute… this is absolute cold-blooded murder.

Serious Issues Raised By New Zealand Lawyer

Document by:  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).

It is most instructive to read these questionings of the New Zealand lawyer alongside details in the retired senior Indian policeman V.J.Ram’s revelations of years later. These suggest but a little of the huge corruption in which Sathya Sai Baba and his key servitors have for so long been involved:

Excerpt from 'The Godmen of India', 2005.Excerpt from ‘The Godmen of India’, 2005

Further Reading

The Unresolved, Covered-Up 1993 Murders in Sathya Sai Baba’s Bedroom Revisited. By Robert Priddy – founder member & office-bearer Oslo Centre 1983, Chairman from 1987 while acting national contact-person of the Sathya Sai Organisation, Norway 1987-2000

Indian Newspaper Reports of Killings In Sai Baba’s Bedroom

Attempts – all to no avail (and with no written or spoken response back to us) – were made by a representative international former devotee group (JuST) to obtain reasonable answers from Sathya Sai Baba’s peak organizational body. See here:

Open letter to the Prashanthi Council – Michael Goldstein, G. Venkataraman

Formal Appeal to the Prashanthi Council


Posted in Opinion, Religion, Skeptics, South Asia, Spirituality, World Religions | Tagged: , , , | 9 Comments »

Attacks By Hooligans Against Foreign Students In Australia

Posted by Barry Pittard on June 5, 2009

In relation to attacks against foreign students in Australia, there are some tough questions. A number of reasons exist why the majority of these attacks have occurred on Indian students, and the issue is complex. The situations are not as portrayed, with a dangerous, irresponsible oversimplification, either by certain sections of the Indian media that are clearly committed to jingoism, hysteria, sensationalism and burgeoning of sales, who gravely misrepresent the view of a great many Indians who live in Australia (See e.g., statement by Federation of Indian Associations of Victoria president Vasan Srinivasan) or by an isolated but powerful and  disgraceful class of radio talk-back hosts who are biggots and their poorly-educated audiences we alarmingly still have in Australia, known as ‘shock jocks’.

No amount of misrepresentation can alter the facts that most Australians do not engage in or approve of racism. Many from some 200 countries who have migrated to this country attest to this fact. The situation is not assisted by those who, whether out of sensationalism or simple-mindedness or agendas of hatred resort to the fallacy of confusing part with whole, branding the behaviour of a few a whole group, who do not think, or feel or act out that for which they are being assailed.

However, the question of whether we in Australia are in danger of being selfish, cocooned, complacent and far too unquestioning of our ‘authorities’ and ourselves is quite another question. It was communities in the suburbs, far more than forces within governments, which won Australia’s great achievements in  forging a multicultural society. Sometimes the word ‘multiculturalism’ has been used but it can be a confusing and systematically misleading term.  The Australian experience – or experiment –  needs to be carefully distinguished from the performances of other countries, and discussed with proper regard for the facts.  One starting-point for those who wish to survey the area is the Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Council, which has many resources both practical and academic. The Council’s website is HERE.

But there is a work undone: those communities especially in the outer suburbs to which many foreign students are driven by their economic constraints will have to do some of it. They will need to rise to an occasion. Or will they expect the police and other authorities to do it for them? To stand by when bones are being broken and lives destroyed does not add up to self-respect and a sense of justice within those in whose midsts violence is happening.

I offer some questions – very preliminary – that I think my fellow Australians will need to consider:

Why have not messages got through to increasingly bold urban hooligans that attacks on anyone are not to be tolerated?

Why are these uneducated hooligans being permitted to sway Australia’s standing in the fellowship of nations?

What is there about our education, justice and parental support systems that allow for the existence of hooliganism?

What, if any, community-based, imaginative, proactive steps are being taken to make foreign students, migrants and refugees to feel welcome, valued and safe in Australia?

If the police are engaged in a losing battle, as in other areas such as drugs, are the Federal, State and Local governments failing in being upfront and in ensuring the widest public awareness and debate?

Why have attacks escalated to such a point where it has taken organized protests by Indian students studying in this country – and giving up their valuable time in which to raise their voices – before there is strong action directed to remediation?

Are outer and working class suburbs embraced by the powerful ethos  in this country which has generated so many distinguished achievements in bringing about Australia’s in many ways successful multicultural society?

What, if anything, has been the responsiveness by police, the three tiers of government, welfare, civic, religious, cultural, sporting organizations, especially in the outer suburbs to the conditions in which many overseas students are economically forced to study, travel back and forth, and reside?

What, if any steps, have been taken to raise public awareness about the enormity of contribution foreign students make to Australia, both in immediate economic terms but in many, and often intangible ways, in regard to the quality of lasting ties of friendship and cooperation internationally?

What, if any steps, have been taken to raise public awareness of the difficulties many overseas students face in regard to finance, language, culture, cuisine, arduous travel times back and forth between residence and place of study, the perils of landlordism, their being forced to take part-time jobs and somehow coping with demanding courses of study, and so on?

Have the police forces examined their own assumptions? For example, how could police possibly know whether many UNreported attacks were racist or not? The notion is absurd.

Are some police authorities refusing to see that a crime can be BOTH opportunistic AND racial?

Many Indian students, supported by their government and by leaders in the Australian Indian community, attest that the police have not been – qualitatively – listening. Why are the police listening now, and why, in certain ways, too late? Young students at this very moment lie bloodied and broken.

What is the accountability of those policemen police who manhandled parts of the crowd, in attendance at what the responsible media has reported as, except for rare exceptions, a peaceful protest by thousands?

Why are the State and Federal Governments and the education institutions at which foreign students study suddenly galvanized? Why not before this?

A question for those who cry racism at every turning: Has it been noticed that extremely few along the path of the march have been reported, on any side, as having been racist or insulting in any way?

A Helpline for Indian students who are victims of crime is available: 1800342800. From 10am to 5pm, and 7pm to 11pm, Monday to Friday.  Hellplines for ALL foreign students need to be provided and made extensively-known through the student fraternity.

Further Reading

Indian Students Attacked In Melbourne Australia: Cricket Star Brett Lee Voices Concerns

Posted by Barry Pittard on June 4, 2009

Attacks Against Indian Students in Melbourne, Australia

Posted by Barry Pittard on June 2, 2009

—————————————————————

UPDATE

From ‘Hindustan Times’ – which shows a sanity lacking in the sensationalists sections of the Indian media

See article details at this Blog:

Posted in News and Politics, Opinion, Politics, Protest, Sikhism, Social and Politics, Uncategorized, World Issues, World Religions | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Attacks Against Indian Students in Melbourne, Australia

Posted by Barry Pittard on June 2, 2009

There have been most shocking physical attacks against Indian students in Melbourne, Australia. Some 90, 000 Indian students now study here, second to China in the number of foreign nationals studying.  Australia intends to attract many more. They need to feel safe and respected. Yesterday’s news reported what is alleged to have been a peaceful demonstration waylaid by a small number of anti-social elements.

In March 2009, this blog reported Channel NineMSN’s exposure of security personnel violence against protesting staff and disabled clients at SWARA (run by one of the superluminaries of the Sathya Sai sect, Moyia O’Brien) in Brisbane. Reports that suggest the Melbourne protest was derailed by over-reaction of authorities, brought back eerie reminders of those accounts which a number of those involved (including those who remain Sathya Sai Baba devotees) have given.

In both the Brisbane case (security personnel) and the Melbourne case (police, including mounted police), violence by authorities has been seen. Irresponsible commentators see no reason why the actions of security and police should be examined. They fail to ask whether proactive, peaceful methods could have been used, instead of the violent handling of what had been organized as a peaceful protest. It is an old theme – and authorities in modern democracies cannot hide, though they try to, violent propensities. 

(For the SWARA case, see under Reading and Viewing, below)

As a nation, we need to decide whether we wish small numbers of louts to shopfront us to the world. More fundamentally, we have to find solutions to  danger posed by those marginalizing forces which create unemployed, dispossessed angry  young people who lurk by day and night on street corners unleashing their contempt for human life and property. Boldness and imagination can address these problems. We cannot depend on politicians to be bold and imaginative; we have to be bold and imaginative ourselves.

Melbourne newspaper The Age yesterday reported (May 31, 2009)  Gautam Gupta, a spokesman for the Federation of Indian Students of Australia (FISA) as saying:

“We want a multicultural police section and we want crime statistics made public so that we know the extent of the problem,” he said.

The protesters also wanted on-site accommodation for Indian students at all universities and colleges.

“We want blanket cover for all international students, covering them for accidents and assaults and the government should run an ad campaign highlighting positive influence that migrants and international students have made to this country.”

           Mr Gupta blamed outsiders for the trouble outside the station, saying it was always meant to be a peaceful rally.

“People have been angry over the past few weeks, especially the young people, but it was supposed to be a peaceful rally. Unfortunately there were some agitators there, stirring things up … They had their own agenda,” he said.

Many Australians with experience of Indian students know of their characteristic politeness and hard-working qualities. They do credit to their country. Let me give a small, though I think iconic, example of an arrangement that could, badly handled, have gone terribly awry. Because of huge outsourcing by Australia to India of telecom handling of public enquiries and complaints, the extraordinary politeness and patience of the Indian operators have become a byword among millions in Australia.

But something nasty is astir, though it should not deflect attention away from the fact that a great many Australians support multi-culturalism, a fact that has been strongly shown in poll after poll, including at the height of the Mrs Pauline Hanson’s deplorably simplistic political presence in the nineties. However, support is more than sentiments stated to pollsters. The real fairness and justice require that we do not pass by, and turn blind eyes, and cocoon ourselves or fail to inform ourselves. It is not by our deploring racism that our humanity will be guaged.

At the same time, heated debate over whether the attacks were based on racism or opportunistic, soft-targeting should not be allowed to obscure the fact that all citizens and visitors alike have every right to feel safe. Politicians in Australia of all complexions have been characteristically unbold in looking for solutions to poverty.

One question that has to be driven is this:  Are tougher sentences and proposed clauses such as ‘hatred for or prejudice against a particular group of people’, remedies that are anywhere near sufficient? The question about the extent of racism in a country may not, in the present context, be the most pressing or relevant one. Pressures in a changing society can make an issue that may be relatively isolated grow much larger. Emphasis on tough policing and judicial solutions, without a far wider suite of remedies, can ensure. counter-productively, that the hateful violent are increasingly sent to one of the best-known ‘colleges’ of hatred – the prison system, itself in grave need of reform. Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s prompt assurances to India’s Prime Minister Manmohan Singh must be accompanied with sophisticated action. The raw-nerve (sometimes knee-jerk, sometimes cynical) reaction evinced by many politicians about finding and punishing the culprits will not do. The problem is far more complex.

Radically, we need to ensure that a false sense of ‘justice’ having been done is not engendered. Especially in dealing with aftermaths of crime (and for preventive capacity over time), I would point to far wider notions of ‘Restorative Justice’ – which some institutions, including police, have had success with. See, Restorative justice: An Australian perspective.

Racism thrives on ignorance, and on unreal social structures where persons and groups cannot get to interact with and appreciate persons and groups who are different. The locus of Australia’s achievements in multi-culturalism were not the politicians, but were staged in the Australian suburbs. They belong to the people, both older Australians and migrants, and they must not let political elites obsure or attempt top down solutions.

Racism and urban crime and violence greatly worsen in times of economic hardship and unemployment. India’s High Commissioner to Australia, Sujatha Singh, has said that she thinks Australia is not a racist society, but that there were are elements in Australia that hold “racist attitudes”. Referring to the Victoria Police, she spoke of a “lack of sensitivity” towards Indian student victims of crime. Mrs Singh has very rightly criticised the suggestion from the Victoria Police, with whom she has had an urgently-called meeting, that Indian students should move to safer suburbs. This police reaction the students’ realities lacks aliveness to the situation of many students. For many Indian and other foreign students, since they have to use their money extremely judiciously, live in lower rent suburbs, at a sacrifice of long periods of travel to and from their places of study. This fact lends futher strength to the call by the Federation of Indian Students of Australia (FISA) for a multi-cultural police section. I recently had the pleasure of meeting a busload of young Indian students who were visiting Steve Irwin’s famous Australia Zoo, and had a great chat. They studied Catering here.  They were by no means all from well-to-do sectors.

A very real question is: why is some given suburb unsafe? If it is unsafe, then the situation is not only a policing matter but also a matter that needs to be addressed by the whole community, with inputs from all the civic, religious, cultural, sporting, political and social welfare groups. 

It is to be hoped that other countries will not be shy of demanding strong accountability of Australia for the most proactive welfare of their students who study in this country.

The Age reports that The Deputy Commissioner of the Victorian Police Walshe believes ‘some Indian students were being attacked because they were by nature quiet and passive people, they travelled late at night, often alone and carried expensive gadgets’.

But if the situation is not fast and well-addressed (and one of the criticisms of the police and Victorian Government is that they have not acted sensitively or properly), India will not be too quiet and passive, and nor should she be.

We in Australia cannot forever, and unchallenged, pose ourselves as the great and successful multicultural undertaking on which many of us have felt a pride. Though there is truth and remarkable accomplishment, there is a point at which the resting on laurels, lazy assumptions and government propaganda have to be ground to a halt by our strong effort.

Among other authorities, Australian educators are going to have to address these issues very seriously and proactively. No ethnic group, or individual, should have to suffer any slight. A few years ago, I learnt that my former Indian yoga teacher, a woman, one of the most gracious and loved people one could ever meet, had been spat on. The disturbingness of this act dealt to one person is serious, but what to speak when reports of horrible actions are wider-spread.  

Having been a University student at the time of the great moratoriam marches against the war in Vietnam, and close enough to some of the events to know the facts, it was easy to see how very small but vicious agitator elements posed a danger to triggering off trouble. Key dangers were a minority of rabble, and the governments of the day and their police forces. Over the years, there have been reforms to police practice, including raising the educational qualifications, greatly increasing the presence of women, breaking down cultures of sectarianism, nepotism, and so forth. The Victorian government will need to probe whether any of the police acted outside proper professional guidelines.

It is no use Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd simply “deploring” to India and “assurring” her of urgent action. The problem lies far deeper than political accommodations can reach. All of us need to be engaged in the peaceful solution.

A Helpline for Indian students who are victims of crime is available: 1800342800. From 10am to 5pm, and 7pm to 11pm, Monday to Friday.

Reading and Viewing  – with link to the Channel NineMSN Australian Current Affairs program. This shows the sickening conduct of security personnel, seen by millions of Australians. The security detail was called by SWARA, when, to judge from the wide and separate questioning of those who had been involved, and from careful examination of the footage, the position appears to be clearly this: that social work professionals, volunteers and disabled clients were assailed without SWARA’s recourse to those pillars of Sathya Sai Baba’s teachings which SWARA professes to hold: Truth, Right Conduct, Love, Peace and Non-violence. There are those close to the issues who still regard themselves as Sathya Sai Baba devotees who have used such terms as “disgusted” when they describe the conduct of SWARA committee personnel.

On The Attacks on Students

Indian Students Attacked In Melbourne Australia: Cricket Star Brett Lee Voices Concerns

Australia’s Channel NineMSN Exposes Security Violence At SWARA

Sathya Sai Baba Cult Exposure By Major TV Channel In Australia

Sathya Sai Cult Under Media Scutiny In Australia

Australian Current Affair: ‘Infiltrating A Cult’ (Sathya Sai Baba)

(see the original video and report here)

Posted in News and Politics, Opinion, Politics, Sikhism, Social and Politics, South Asia, Uncategorized, World Issues | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »