US Deputy of State warning to travelers

A warning about travelling to Andhra Pradesh has been issued by the U.S. Department of State - Section: (Travel warning page & Consular information sheet) on November 23, 2000).  This is the part of the whole document relevant to Sathya Sai Baba, which connection has been firmly established by Tanya Datta of the BBC as shown on the documentary 'The Secret Swami' - see transcript of the reference to the State Department travel warning and brief (1-5 Mbs) video clip here.

CRIME IN ANDHRA PRADESH - Americans traveling to or residing in Andhra Pradesh should also be aware that there have been media and other reports of inappropriate sexual behavior by a prominent local religious leader. Most of the reports indicate that the subjects of these approaches have been young male devotees, including a number of Americans. Although these reports are unconfirmed, American citizens should be aware of this information.

The entire document reads as follows:-

India - Consular Information Sheet
November 23, 2001

COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: India is an economically developing democratic republic. Tourist facilities varying in degree of comfort and amenities are widely available in the major population centers and main tourist areas.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS: All American citizens require a passport and visa for entry into and exit from India for any purpose. All visitors, including those on official U.S. government business, must obtain visas at an Indian embassy or consulate abroad prior to entering the country. There are no provisions for visas upon arrival. Those arriving in India without a visa bearing the correct validity dates and number of entries are subject to immediate deportation on the return flight. The U.S. Embassy and consulates in India are unable to assist when U.S. citizens arrive without visas. For further information on entry requirements, please contact the Embassy of India at 2536 Massachusetts Avenue N.W. , Washington , D.C. 20008 , telephone (202) 939-9849 or 939-9806 or the Indian consulates in Chicago , New York , San Francisco , or Houston . The Internet address of the Embassy of India is Outside the United States , inquiries should be made at the nearest Indian embassy or consulate.

In an effort to prevent international child abduction, many governments have initiated procedures at entry/exit points. These often include requiring documentary evidence of relationship and permission for the child's travel from the parent(s) or legal guardian not present. Having such documentation on hand, even if not required, may facilitate entry/departure.


Since 1996, New Delhi has been the site of occasional terrorist bombing incidents. These bomb blasts have occurred in public places, as well as on public transportation such as trains and buses. In December 1999, an Indian Airlines plane carrying one American citizen was hijacked en route from Kathmandu to New Delhi . The American was not injured. In December 2000, a terrorist attack on Delhi 's Red Fort, a major tourist attraction, left three Indians dead. While no U.S. citizens were among the victims, other foreign visitors were injured. No reliable pattern has emerged in these attacks; nor is there any indication that they are directed against Americans or other foreigners. Nevertheless, U.S. citizens should be alert to suspicious packages in public places and avoid crowds, political demonstrations, and other manifestations of civil unrest.

AREAS OF INSTABILITY AND TERRORISM: JAMMU and KASHMIR - The Department of State strongly urges private U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to the Kashmir Valley , Doda district, and Srinagar in the state of Jammu and Kashmir . These are areas of ongoing terrorist activities and violent civil disturbances. In October 2001, a bomb exploded at the Jammu and Kashmir State Assembly complex, killing 38 people and injuring over 100. Also, in the past year, several Western foreigners have been attacked in an effort to ensure tourism does not get a new start in these areas. The few tourists who do go to these areas are quite visible and vulnerable, and they are definitely at risk. Even Ladakh has occasionally been affected by terrorist violence. In 2000, a German tourist was killed by Kashmiri militants in Ladakh's Zanskar region. U.S. Government employees are prohibited from traveling to the Kashmir portion of the state of Jammu and Kashmir without permission from the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi .

In 1999, the terrorist organization Harakat Ul Mujahideen issued a ban on Americans, including tourists, visiting Kashmir . In 1995, the terrorist organization Al Faran kidnapped seven Western tourists who were trekking, including two Americans, in Kashmir Valley . One of the hostages was brutally murdered, another escaped, and the other five - including one American - have never been found. Srinagar has also been the site of a great deal of violence. Within the past year, it has been the site of a number of car bombings, market bombings, and land mine deaths. In May 2000, a Czech tourist was shot and wounded in Srinagar . That same month, a minister for the state of Jammu and Kashmir was killed in a land mine explosion south of Srinagar . Also in May 2000, rocket-propelled grenades fired at a government building in Srinagar , killed a government employee and wounded others. In October 1999, a French tourist was shot and wounded. An American tourist was fatally shot in Srinagar in 1994.

AREAS OF INSTABILITY: NORTHEAST STATES - Sporadic incidents of violence by ethnic insurgent groups, including the bombing of buses and trains, are reported from parts of Assam , Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura, and Meghalaya. While U.S. citizens have not been specifically targeted, visitors are cautioned not to travel outside major cities at night. Security laws are in force, and the central government has deployed security personnel to several Northeast states. Travelers may check with the U.S. Consulate in Calcutta for information on current conditions. (Please see the section on Registration/Embassy and Consulate Locations below.)

AREAS OF INSTABILITY: INDIA-PAKISTAN BORDER - Tensions run high between India and Pakistan , particularly over Kashmir . The only official India-Pakistan border crossing point is between Atari , India , and Wagah , Pakistan . A Pakistani visa is required for entry into Pakistan .

Both India and Pakistan claim an area of the Karakoram mountain range that includes the Siachen glacier. The two countries have military outposts in the region, and armed clashes have occurred. Because of this situation, U.S. citizens traveling to or climbing peaks anywhere in the disputed areas face significant risk of injury and death. The disputed area includes the following peaks: Rimo Peak ; Apsarasas I, II, and III; Tegam Kangri I, II and III; Suingri Kangri; Ghiant I and II; Indira Col. ; and Sia Kangri.

RESTRICTED AREAS: Permission from the Indian Government (from Indian diplomatic missions abroad or in some cases from the Ministry of Home Affairs) is required to visit the states of Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, parts of Kulu district and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh, border areas of Jammu and Kashmir, some areas of Uttar Pradesh, the area west of National Highway No. 15 running from Ganganagar to Sanchar in Rajasthan, the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and the Union Territory of the Laccadive Islands.

CIVIL DISTURBANCES: Urban demonstrations pose risks to travelers' personal safety and can disrupt transportation systems and city services. In response to such events, Indian authorities occasionally impose curfews and/or restrict travel. Political rallies and demonstrations in India have the potential for violence, especially immediately preceding and following elections. Americans are urged to avoid demonstrations and rallies. In addition, religious and inter-caste violence occasionally occurs unpredictably. While such violence rarely targets foreigners, mobs have attacked Indian Christian workers. Missionary activity has aroused strong reactions in some, usually rural, areas, and in January 1999, a mob murdered an Australian missionary and his two sons in the eastern state of Orissa. Nevertheless, the principal risk for foreigners is that of becoming inadvertent victims. U.S. citizens should read local newspapers and should contact the U.S. Embassy or the nearest U.S. consulate for further information about the current situation in areas where they wish to travel.

CRIME INFORMATION: Petty crime, especially theft of personal property, is common. Although violent crime is uncommon, some Westerners, including Americans, have been the victims of robberies and violent attacks that resulted in serious injuries and, in two recent cases, death. The common thread for most attacks on travelers has been that the travelers were on their own. Travelers are cautioned not to travel alone in India . Because Americans' purchasing power is comparatively large in relation to that of the general population, travelers also should always exercise modesty and caution in their financial dealings in India to reduce the chance of being a target for robbery.

The U.S. Embassy also urges Americans arriving at major tourist points such as airports and train stations to use pre-paid taxis as much as possible. There have been a number of cases where drivers and others have solicited travelers with "come-on" offers of cheap transportation and/or hotels. Such travelers often find themselves the victims of various scams, including disproportionately expensive hotel rooms, unwanted "tours," unwelcome "purchases," and even threats when the tourists try to decline to pay. There have also been unconfirmed reports of individual tourists given drugged drinks or tainted food to make them more vulnerable to theft. Travelers should exercise significant care when hiring transportation and/or guides.

CRIME IN UTTARANCHAL AND HIMACHAL PRADESH - In the last two years, two Americans were murdered in the Haridwar/Rishikesh region of Uttaranchal state, both involving Americans, who became heavily involved with the Hindu religious community there. The police have confirmed that both crimes were financially motivated. Several other foreigners have also been attacked in Uttaranchal, including two Spaniards and one Japanese tourist, who were murdered in 2000. Several U.S. citizens have reported their passports and other belongings stolen in the last year. Crime and violence have also increased in the popular hiking and rafting destination of Kulu/Manali, Uttaranchal, where the number of foreign backpackers and tourists has been growing and where drugs are readily available. In the last year, an Italian was murdered and a missing Russian hiker is presumed dead. Foreigners are the targets of criminal activities primarily because of the disproportionately large sums of money they are thought to carry. Visitors to the area are strongly cautioned not to travel alone and to be aware of their environment and their belongings. Travelers may check with the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi on current conditions. (Please see the section on Registration/Embassy and Consulate Locations below.)

CRIME IN ANDHRA PRADESH - Americans traveling to or residing in Andhra Pradesh should also be aware that there have been media and other reports of inappropriate sexual behavior by a prominent local religious leader. Most of the reports indicate that the subjects of these approaches have been young male devotees, including a number of Americans. Although these reports are unconfirmed, American citizens should be aware of this information.

The loss or theft of a U.S. passport abroad should be reported immediately to local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlets, A Safe Trip Abroad and Tips for Travelers to South Asia, for ways to promote a more trouble-free journey. The Pamphlets are available by mail from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government printing office, Washington , D.C. 20420 ; via the Internet at http:/, or from the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at

MEDICAL FACILITIES AND INSURANCE: Adequate to excellent medical care is available in the major population centers, but it is usually very limited or unavailable in rural areas. The Department of State strongly urges Americans to consult with their medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether their policy applies overseas and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a medical evacuation. U.S. medical insurance plans seldom cover health costs incurred outside the United States unless supplemental coverage is purchased. Further, U.S. Medicare and Medicaid programs do not provide payment for medical services outside the United States . However, many travel agents and private companies offer insurance plans that will cover health care expenses incurred overseas including emergency services such as medical evacuations.

When making a decision regarding health insurance, Americans should consider that many foreign doctors and hospitals require payment in cash prior to providing service and that a medical evacuation to the United States may cost well in excess of $50,000. Uninsured travelers who require medical care overseas often face extreme difficulties. When consulting with your insurer prior to your trip, please ascertain whether payment will be made to the overseas healthcare provider or if you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.

Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page or autofax: (202) 647-3000.

OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may be obtained from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's international traveler's hotline at telephone 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX (1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC'S Internet home page at It is important to note that Indian health regulations require all travelers arriving from Sub-Sahara Africa or other yellow fever areas to have evidence of vaccination against yellow fever. Travelers who do not have such proof are subject to immediate deportation or a six-day detention in the yellow fever quarantine center. Americans who transit through any part of sub-Sahara Africa , even for one day, are advised to carry proof of yellow fever immunization.

TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States . The information below concerning traffic safety and road conditions in India is provided for general reference only, and it may not be totally accurate in a particular location or circumstance.

Safety of public transportation: Poor
Urban road condition/maintenance: Poor
Rural road condition/maintenance: Poor
Availability of roadside assistance: Poor to nonexistent

Travel by road is dangerous. In recent years, Delhi alone has experienced over 2,000 road deaths annually. A number of Americans have suffered fatal traffic accidents in recent times. Travel at night is particularly hazardous. In March 1996, five Americans were killed when a tour bus crashed at night near the city of Agra . Buses, patronized by hundreds of millions of Indians, are convenient in that they serve almost every city of any size. However, they are usually driven fast, recklessly, and without consideration for official rules of the road. Accidents are quite common. Trains are somewhat safer than buses, but train accidents still occur more frequently than in developed countries.

On Indian roads, the safest driving policy is to assume that other drivers will not respond to a traffic situation in the same way you would in the United States . Buses, for instance, will often run straight through red lights and will merge directly into traffic at yield points and traffic circles. Cars, auto-rickshaws, bicycles and pedestrians behave only slightly more cautiously. It has been said that the Indian driver looks only ahead; all drivers consider themselves responsible only for traffic in front of them, not for traffic behind or to the side. Frequent use of one's horn to announce presence is both customary and wise. It is always preferable to have a licensed experienced driver who has a "feel" for road and driving conditions.

Outside major cities, main roads and other roads are poorly maintained and always congested. Even main roads often have only two lanes, with poor visibility and inadequate warning markers. Heavy traffic is the norm and includes (but is not limited to) overloaded trucks and buses, scooters, pedestrians, bullock and camel carts, horse or elephant riders en route to weddings, and free-roaming livestock.

It is very important to keep in mind that if a driver hits a pedestrian or a cow, the vehicle and its occupants are at risk of being attacked by passersby. Such attacks put the vehicle's occupants at significant risk of injury or death, or at least incineration of the vehicle. It can thus be unsafe to remain at the scene of an accident of this nature, and drivers may wish to consider seeking out the nearest police station instead.

Emergency Numbers: The following emergency numbers work in New Delhi :
Police 100
Fire Brigade 101
Ambulance 102

Traffic in India moves on the left. For specific information concerning Indian driver's permits, vehicle inspection, road tax and mandatory insurance, please contact the Indian National Tourist Organization offices via the Internet at

PILOTING CIVIL AIRCRAFT: There have been a number of incidents in which civil aircraft have been detained for deviating from approved flight plans. U.S. citizens piloting civil aircraft in India must file any changes to previous flight plans with the appropriate Indian authorities and may not over-fly restricted airspace.

AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of India 's civil aviation authority as category 1 - in compliance with international aviation safety standards for oversight of India 's air carrier operations.

For further information, travelers may contact the Department of Transportation within the United States at 1-800-322-7873 or visit the FAA's Internet web site at The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at tel. 1-618-256-4801.

CUSTOMS CONSIDERATIONS: Indian customs authorities enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from India of items such as firearms, antiquities, electronic equipment, currency, ivory, gold objects, and other prohibited materials. It is advisable to contact the Embassy of India in Washington , D.C. or one of India 's consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements.

DRUG AND CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S. citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States and may not afford the protections available to the individual under U.S. law. Penalties for breaking the law can be more severe than in the United States for similar offenses. Persons violating Indian laws, even unknowingly, may be expelled, arrested or imprisoned. Penalties for possession of, use of, or trafficking in illegal drugs are strictly enforced; convicted offenders in India can expect a minimum jail sentence of ten (10) years, plus fines. In addition, they can face lengthy detention without bail pending trial. Conditions in Indian jails range from austere to severe.

CONSULAR ACCESS: U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry a photocopy of their U.S. passports with them at all times, so proof of identity and U.S. citizenship are readily available if they are questioned by local officials. In accordance with the Vienna Convention, Indian authorities must allow U.S. citizens to contact a U.S. consular officer if arrested or detained in India .

CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information on international adoption of children and international parental child abduction, please refer to the Internet site at's_ issues.html or telephone (202) 736-7000.

REGISTRATION/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS: Americans living in or visiting India are encouraged to register at the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi or at one of the U.S. consulates in India . They may also obtain updated information on travel and security in India and request a copy of the booklet, "Guidelines for American travelers in India ."

-- The U.S. Embassy in New Delhi is located at Shantipath, Chanakyapuri 110021;telephone (91) (11) 419-8000; fax (91) (11) 419-0017. The Embassy's Internet home page address is

-- The U.S. Consulate General in Mumbai ( Bombay ) is located at Lincoln House, 78 Bhulabhai Desai Road , 400026, telephone (91) (22) 363-3611; fax (91)(22)363-0350. Internet home page address is

-- The U.S. Consulate General in Calcutta (now often called Kolkata) is at 5/1 Ho Chi Minh Sarani, 700071; telephone (91) (033) 282-3611 through 282-3615; fax (91)(033)(282-2335). The Internet home page address is

-- The U.S. Consulate General in Chennai ( Madras ) is at Mount Road , 600006, telephone (91) (044)811-2000; fax (91)(044)811-2020. The Internet home page address is

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This replaces the Consular Information Sheet for India dated June 2000, to update information on Safety and Security, Crime, Traffic Safety and Road Conditions.

The above as posted at: Sathya Sai Baba Discussion Club, message 3454: