MYTH: Satnam Singh Mann was beaten in Amritapuri Ashram.
REALITY: Although Satnam Singh Mann violently charged towards Amma in his underwear, no one in Amritapuri Ashram harmed him in anyway. Devotees simply surrounded Amma to prevent Mann from getting to her, and then he was gently ushered away from her. Police who have been stationed in Amritapuri since 2005 were on the scene and quickly took him into custody. All this can be seen from security videos, which also show him leaving Amritapuri in police custody totally unharmed. Satnam Singh Mann’s own cousin saw him in the Karunagappally Police Station jail the next day and stated in interviews that there was not a mark on Mann at that time. There are also videos of Mann in the police station in perfect health. The fact that he was unharmed in Amritapuri has also been confirmed in court by investigators. Regardless, some writers are using the incident to attack Amma’s ashram. The real question is: Why are they ignoring the facts? And, moreover, why are they ignoring the two other deaths that took place in police custody that same week? (scroll down to read more)
What happened to Satnam Singh Mann was a tragedy. My prayers go out to his friends and family, as do the prayers of all Amma’s devotees. At Amritapuri Ashram, there have even been pujas performed for his peace. That said, since I was there during that time and saw what happened, I cannot sit back and keep quiet while certain individuals—many of whom have a well-documented history of trying to make a career off attacking the Mata Amritanandamayi Math—write lies in the local newspapers and magazines. These people have a clear agenda: “Take down Amrita by any means necessary. Forget journalistic ethics, forget integrity, forget the facts. Just take Amrita down.”
Here’s the real story: Satnam Singh Mann was a 23-year-old law student from Bihar with mental problems. His cousin Vimal Kishore, an Aaj Tak reporter from Delhi, has confirmed this in interviews with the press. Mann left home on 30 May, 2012. He then walked 40 kilometers to Gaya, took a train to Varanasi, and then, on 1 August, appeared in Amritapuri Ashram in Kerala. Did Mann stay at Amritapuri Ashram? No. He was staying elsewhere.
1 August, 2012, was one of the first public darshan days after Amma’s return to Amritapuri from her two-month Japan-North American Tour. I was sitting on the floor enjoying the bhajans when Mann suddenly charged forward through the darshan hall towards Amma, yelling and shoving people out of his way. It was really frightening. He ran right passed where I was sitting. Anyone who was in his path, he just violently shoved aside. He was running in a full sprint. Then he ripped off his dhoti and charged up a not-in-use darshan-exit ramp, heading directly for Amma. The devotees around Amma, many of whom were Westerners—seeing a deranged man, dressed only in his underwear screaming and charging towards Amma—did what sensible people would do: they prevented Mann from reaching Amma. None of them reacted violently. They just surrounded Amma to protect her and gently moved him away. You can see this clearly on the security videos. Kerala State Police officers have been stationed at Amritapuri since an attempted attack on Amma in 2005. As per their duty, they were on the scene, apprehended Mann and took him into custody. This can also be clearly seen from security videos.
Now, let me ask you something: What would have happened to Mann if he had ripped off his clothes and charged towards another person of Amma’s stature in another setting? It’s only due to Amma’s peace-radiating presence and the power of her teachings of love and compassion that Mann was not harmed by the devotees. Within a few minutes, the police ushered Mann from Amma’s presence. I saw the whole thing. Everyone was so gentle with him. Just look at the video. When the police walked Mann to the car, he was fine. There was not a bruise on him—no bloody nose, no bodily harm whatsoever. He was not limping. He climbed up into the police Jeep without assistance.
The crime report has explained what happened after that: Mann was taken directly to the Karunagappally Police Station, where he stayed for 20 hours. Then, after being charged by a magistrate with attempted murder, he was sent to the Kollam District Jail on 2 August. There, he attacked fellow inmates, throwing phenol on them. He was deemed mentally instable and was transferred to the State Mental Health Center in Peroorkada, Trivandrum. There, he again became violent and, on 4 August, was beaten by a warden, an attendant and a gang of inmates. He was found that evening unconscious in his cell, was taken to the emergency room, where he was pronounced dead upon arrival. The warden, attendant and four mental-hospital inmates have all been arrested.,
If the video were not enough proof that Mann was not harmed in Amritapuri, Mann’s cousin, Vimal Kishore, visited Mann in the Karunagappally jail, on 2 August, the day after he had been taken into custody. On 5 August, the morning after Mann’s death, Kishore, addressed the press and clearly stated that there was not even a scratch on Mann’s body when he visited Mann in the jail on 2 August. He said: “At that time he was just wearing one underwear, in the cell on 2 August. And that day, it was a rakhi day. I had brought rakhi from Delhi from his sister. I just asked the policeman, ‘Shall I tie the rakhi to him?’ They said, ‘No, you can’t. It is banned [in the jail].’ And as he heard this, he insisted, ‘Please, please, please, please tie the knot—rakhi. Please tie the rakhi! All my Satan will go out from my body.’ And at that time, as I had seen him in the underwear only, there was no marks on his body. Not a single mark! And today [5 August], which I had seen, there are around 30, 35 marks on his body. He was beaten by a rod, I think—hot rod. Maybe it’s a matter of investigation, but the body speaks [for] itself.”
Mann’s father, Harendra Kumar Singh, publicly stated, “It looks like a clear case of murder in judicial custody.”
Regardless of the facts, some people want to try to blame Amma’s ashram for Mann’s death. This is absurd. Some of them have been attacking Mata Amritanandamayi in the media for years. The only conspiracy here is the one wherein these people are trying to defame Mata Amritanandamayi, throwing out all intelligence, proper logic and evidence in order to do so. Unfortunately the media likes a juicy story. Thus, the unsubstantiated, unfounded opinions and wild speculations of these “intellectuals”—when they call a press conference to announce them—get printed as “news.” What a joke! Their measurements are done with false weights, and as a result no matter what evidence to the contrary is put before them, it always equates to “Amritanandamayi.”
Again, none of us who were in Amritapuri Ashram that day harmed Mann in anyway. And all Mata Amritanandamayi Math did was to file request the police to investigate the matter. Did the Ashram ask for section 307—an attempted murder charge—to be placed upon Mann? No. This was a decision made utterly independently by the police and magistrates.
Amma’s disciples and devotees took Mann’s behavior seriously—as they should have. I saw how Mann was acting with my own eyes. He was violently charging towards Amma in a full sprint. Who knows what he would have done if left unimpeded? The fact that someone may be suffering from mental problems should not detract from the level of seriousness with which that person’s actions are addressed. Many mass murders in recent times have been committed by mentally unstable people. Look at the shootings in Aurora, Colorado and other countries. Look at the 2005 serial murders in Noida. Do you think the people responsible for the Noida murders are sane? And if you say someone naked and unarmed cannot harm someone, you must not have read about Rudy Eugene, 31, of Miami. On 27 May 2012, he made international news when—naked and unarmed—he suddenly grabbed someone on a public street in Miami and ate off 80 percent of his face.
When an obviously mentally unstable person starts acting aggressive in public, taking the incident seriously is not irresponsible—to not take action is irresponsible.
And please don’t forget: Mann continued to be violent even after arrested. He attacked other inmates in the jail, and when his cousin Vimal Kishore visited him in jail on 2 August, he even threatened him. Kishore said in an interview: “He was very aggressive at that time. He even challenged me: ‘You can come into the cell, and I will show you my power.’ He was so aggressive.” And the fact is that, still, no one really knows Mann’s motivations. He didn’t have a darshan token. He hadn’t tried to see Amma via the darshan queue. He didn’t even complain when being taking away that he hadn’t had a chance to have Amma’s darshan.
It was the duty of Amma’s disciples and devotees to take Mann’s attack on Amma seriously. It should also be remembered that, in 2005, in the exact same place, another attacker, also mentally unstable, similarly charged towards Amma. And he was armed with a knife. One of the devotees who stopped him was even stabbed in the incident, and two more lightly injured. Moreover, just a month earlier in the new M.A. Center in Chicago, another man from northern India who approached Amma shouting was taken into custody by police under suspicion of connection with an earlier incident of trespassing and arson on the property. Sadly, these are violent times. It’s the duty of the disciples and devotees to protect the guru. The fact that the people present when Mann charged towards Amma were able to protect Amma and yet be so gentle and patient with the attacker should be applauded.
I would like to add one more thing: Since Mann’s death there have been two other custodial deaths in Kerala—those of Ajikumar, 42, of Aivarkala, and of Payyadimeethal Krishnan, 74, of Mayanad. Ajikumar died on 11 August 2012 in the Medical College Hospital in Trivandrum. His family alleges he died because of beatings he suffered while in custody. Curiously, Ajikumar and Satnam Singh Mann were brought from the Kollam District Jail to the State Mental Health Center in Peroorkada in the same vehicle on the evening of 2 August 2012. Ajikumar stayed in Peroorkada SMHC for a short time and then was taken to Medical Hospital College, where he died seven days later.
Payyadimeethal Krishnan was an inmate of the Government Mental Health Centre in Kuthiravattam, Kozhikode District, Kerala. He died on 21 August 2012 from injuries allegedly sustained on 7 August. His death—just like Satnam’s initially was—has been attributed to a beating he suffered at the hands of fellow cell mates.
So, we have three custodial deaths due to violence within the span of one week. Why is no one looking into these other two deaths? Why is no one writing in the papers, crying out for justice for them? I will tell you why: Because none of this is about justice or compassion for Satnam. It’s about people with vested interests desperately trying to tarnish the name of the Mata Amritanandamayi Math.
Written By Spinks
 “Investigators ruled out the possibility that Satnam was manhandled at the Amritanandamayi Mathom at Vallikavu, from where he was arrested on August 1 on the charge of attempting to assault its spiritual leader, or subsequently at the Karunagapally police station. They submitted in court the video evidence from all these places and also the reports of the medical examinations that Satnam had undergone before and after he was taken into custody to prove that the injuries found on his body were sustained on August 4 afternoon after he was admitted to the SMHC.” Staff Reporter, “Satnam Case: Bail Plea of SMHC Employee Rejected,” The Hindu. (August 28, 2012). (http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-kerala/article3830051.ece)
 “In Vallikavu, the Matha Amrithanandamayi Mutt organised a special prayer session consoling the death of Satnam.” Staff Writer, “Probe Into Death of Youth Who Charged at Matha.”Deccan Chronicle (August 6, 2012). (http://www.deccanchronicle.com/channels/cities/thiruvananthapuram/probe-death-youth-who-charged-matha-963)
 “Satnam was also, according to Dr KP Sharma, a consultant psychiatrist with the Bihar Institute of Mental Health in Bhojpur and the doctor who’d been treating Satnam for five years, a paranoid schizophrenic.” Parakram Rautela, “Satnam’s Mysterious Death,” Times of India (August 12, 2012). (http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-08-12/special-report/33167167_1_mental-health-unconditional-love-police-station)
 “‘I pleaded with the police to get him admitted to a mental hospital as he was suffering from mental illness for the past two years.’ … Vimal Kishore told ‘Express.’” Express News Service, Thiruvananthapuram, “Several Injury Marks Found on Satnam’s Body,” The New Indian Express (August 6, 2012). (http://newindianexpress.com/cities/thiruvananthapuram/article583869.ece#)
 “With Rs 600 in his pocket, Satnam Singh Maan ran away from home in Sherghati, Bihar, on the night of May 30. The 23-year-old, an undergraduate at the National Law University in Lucknow, says Vimal, “was dressed in a pair of boxer shorts, a T-shirt, and Hawaii chappals. … after leaving home Satnam had walked 40 km to Gaya, from where he had caught a train to Varanasi.” ParakramRautela, “Satnam’s Mysterious Death,” Times of India (August 12, 2012). (http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-08-12/special-report/33167167_1_mental-health-unconditional-love-police-station)
 “[The Inspector General of Police] inspected the lock-up of the Karunagapally police station where Singh was detained for almost 20 hours.” Staff Reporter, “Custodial death: IG Visits Ashram, District Jail,” The Hindu (August 9, 2012). (http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-kerala/article3744853.ece)
 “Satnam was produced before a magistrate court at Karunagapally in Kollam on August 2 and was remanded in the Kollam sub jail.” Sabarinath Bahuleyan, “Tortured to Death,” The Week (August 8, 2012). (http://week.manoramaonline.com/cgi-bin/MMOnline.dll/portal/ep/theWeekContent.do?programId=1073754900&contentId=12172775)
 “When he turned violent around midnight, the other prisoners overpowered him and the jail authorities rushed him to the district hospital, from where he was later moved to Peroorkada Mental Health Hospital.” Express News Service, Thiruvananthapuram, “Several Injury Marks Found on Satnam’s Body,” The New Indian Express (August 6, 2012). (http://newindianexpress.com/cities/thiruvananthapuram/article583869.ece#)
 “Prison superintendent Vinod Kumar said that during the late hour of August 2, Satnam took cleaning lotion kept at the toilet in the prison and poured it on eight other prisoners in his cell.” Staff Writer, “Probe Into Death of Youth Who Charged at Matha.”Deccan Chronicle (August 6, 2012). (http://www.deccanchronicle.com/channels/cities/thiruvananthapuram/probe-death-youth-who-charged-matha-963)
 “He was later referred and admitted to the Mental Health Centre (MHC) in Thiruvananthapuram in the early hours of August 3.”Sabarinath Bahuleyan, “Tortured to Death,” The Week (August 8, 2012). (http://week.manoramaonline.com/cgi-bin/MMOnline.dll/portal/ep/theWeekContent.do?programId=1073754900&contentId=12172775)
 “Two caretakers, including a jail warden deputed to the SMHC to watch over prisoners admitted there, entered Satnam’s cell around 4.15 p.m. to break the fight. They were accompanied by five ‘working patients,’ four of them prisoners who SMHC doctors had deemed cured of their psychiatric illnesses. Investigators said one prisoner carried a plastic insulated copper cable, which he used ‘unsparingly’ on Satnam. The others held him down by the back of his neck and banged his head against the cell wall. They administered Satnam ‘brutal corporal’ punishment for nearly 10 minutes, an investigator said.” Staff Reporter, “Satnam Case: Bail Plea of SMHC Employee Rejected,” The Hindu (August 28, 2012). (http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-kerala/article3830051.ece)
 “The staff rushed Satnam to the Medical College Hospital, where he was pronounced dead later.” Staff Reporter, “Satnam Case: Bail Plea of SMHC Employee Rejected,” The Hindu (August 28, 2012). (http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-kerala/article3830051.ece)
 “”Vivekanandan, a warden, and Anil Kumar, an attendant, both attached to a mental hospital here where the victim was admitted, were arrested,” said Inspector General of Police B. Sandhya.” Staff Writer, “Two Arrested for Death of Man From Bihar in Kerala.” Indian Associated News Service (August 11, 2012). (http://www.newstrackindia.com/newsdetails/2012/08/11/307–Two-arrested-for-death-of-man-from-Bihar-in-Kerala-.html)
 “Four ‘cured’ patients of government mental hospital, who used to assist hospital staff in restraining violent inmates, were on Monday arrested in connection with the death of a law student from Bihar, Satnam Singh, who died on August 4.” Shaju Philip, “4 Held Over Bihar Youth Death in Kerala,” The New Indian Express (September 4, 2012). (http://www.indianexpress.com/news/4-held-over-bihar-youth-death-in-kerala/997337)
 “‘I had met him on August 2 before he was sent to jail. At that time there were no marks on his body. …,’ Vimal Kishore told ‘Express.’” Express News Service, Thiruvananthapuram, “Several Injury Marks Found on Satnam’s Body,” The New Indian Express (August 6, 2012). (http://newindianexpress.com/cities/thiruvananthapuram/article583869.ece#)
 “‘It looks like a clear case of murder in judicial custody… he deserved sympathy, not death,’ said Mann’s distraught father Harendra Kumar Singh.” Santosh Singh, “Kerala Custody Death: Bihar Youth Cleared Law Test, Studied Religion,” The New Indian Express (August 13, 2012). (http://www.indianexpress.com/news/kerala-custody-death-bihar-youth-cleared-law-test-studied-religion/988366/)
 “Aurora Cinema Massacre: James Holmes ‘Mentally Ill,’” BBC News (August 9, 2012). (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-19197407)
Pragya Kaushika, “Pandher, Koli Held Guily,” New Indian Express (February 9, 2012). (http://www.indianexpress.com/news/pandher-koli-held-guilty/422808/0)
“He was shot to death by Miami police as he crouched over Ronald Poppo’s limp body, naked and growling, chewing off chunks of the man’s face.”Nadege Green and Audra D.S. Burch, “The Unraveling of Rudy Eugene, aka The Causeway Face Attacker,” The Miami Herald (July 14, 2012). (http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/07/14/v-fullstory/2895973/the-unraveling-of-rudy-eugene.html#storylink=cpy)
 “It was around 7 p.m. Sunday when Amritanandamayi was delivering her discourse to around 18,000 devotees that Pavithran, a man in his 40s, charged towards Amma, widely known as the ‘hugging saint’. A few devotees restrained him, but not before he had drawn a knife and injured three of them. He was arrested. Pavithran’s family members claim he was under medication for mental ailments and turned violent if he did not take his medicines, Kollam superintendent of police Santhosh Varma said.” Staff Reporter, “Mata Amrita Unfazed by Knife Attack,” The Hindu (August 22, 2005). (http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2005-08-22/india/27838669_1_knife-attack-amma-devotees)
Staff Reporter, “Small fire at Kane County religious center investigated,” The Chicago Tribune (June 29, 2012). (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/suburbs/chi-small-fire-at-kane-county-religious-center-investigated-20120629,0,5768391.story)
 “The death of a remand prisoner, Ajikumar, 42, a native of Aivarkala, Kollam, on Saturday night at the Medical College Hospital (MCH), where he had been admitted, created some tension at the hospital with the relatives of the patient alleging that he was tortured in police custody.” Staff Reporter, “Prisoner’s Death Causes Tension,” The Hindu (August 13, 2012). (http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/article3761812.ece)
 “Incidentally, both the men were brought to the Medical College Hospital in the same vehicle from Kollam.” Staff Reporter, “Prisoner’s Death Causes Tension,” The Hindu (August 13, 2012). (http://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/article3761812.ece)
 “Hailing from Sasthamkotta Ivarkala, Ajikumar, who had shown mental instability was taken to the Perrorkada Mental Hospital by the prison officials. When it was understood that he was infected with pneumonia, he was rushed to the Medical College hospital for treatment where he succumbed.” Staff Writer, “Remand Prisoner Dies in Hospital,” Mathrubhumi (August 12, 2012). (http://www.mathrubhumi.com/english/story.php?id=127109)
 “”Krishnan was admitted to the medical college on August 7, after he was beaten up by his cellmates.” Staff Reporter, “Mental Patient Dies of Head Injury at MHC,” Deccan Chronicle (August 25, 2012). (http://www.deccanchronicle.com/channels/cities/kozhikode/mental-patient-dies-head-injury-mhc-019)