The Department of State warns U.S. citizens to anticipate possible civil unrest around Anantapur in southern Andhra Pradesh following the death on April 24th of the religious leader Sathya Sai Baba. We recommend U.S. citizens avoid traveling to Puttaparthi in Anantapur, as well as Whitefield (near Bangalore) and Kodai Kanal, Tamil Nadu, the sites of two other ashrams, due to the possibility of demonstrations or crowd control issues arising in the emotionally charged atmosphere.
Sai Baba’s death will be a source of grief for many of his followers, and the area around Anantapur has seen public expressions of mourning as a large number of people wishing to pay their respects have arrived in the area. State police have shifted significant security resources to the area and have established barricades in the area around the Prashanthi Nilayam ashram, where they are inspecting travel documents of many visitors. Police have implemented Section 144 prohibitions forbidding public gatherings and many commercial establishments are closed.
Devotees of Sai Baba in Hyderabad and other cities may also express their grief publicly. Although we expect no violence, American citizens are warned to maintain their security awareness and follow the standard guidance of avoiding large public gatherings. Processions or spontaneous events may block routes through the city unpredictably.
U.S. citizens resident or traveling in Andhra Pradesh, Bangalore and Kodai Kanal during this period are reminded to maintain a high level of security awareness at all times and avoid political rallies, demonstrations, and large crowds of any kind. U.S. citizens should monitor the situation via media sources, including TV, radio, and via the internet.
U.S. citizens traveling or residing in India are encouraged to enroll with the U.S. Embassy through the State Department’sSmart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) so that they can obtain updated information on travel and security. U.S. citizens without internet access may enroll directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy or Consulate to contact them in case of emergency. For additional information, please refer to “A Safe Trip Abroad.”
For the latest security information, U.S. citizens living and traveling abroad should regularly monitor the Department’s Bureau of Consular Affairs internet website at http://travel.state.gov, where the current Worldwide Caution, Travel Alerts, Travel Warnings, and health information resources can be found. Information on local conditions is also available at ACSess, the American Citizen Services blog of U.S. Consulate General Hyderabad, at http://blogs.usembassy.gov/hyderabad/.
Up-to-date information on security can also be obtained by calling 1-888-407-4747 toll free in the United States and Canada or, for callers in other areas, by calling a regular toll line at 1-202-501-4444. These numbers are available from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Eastern Time, Monday through Friday (except U.S. federal holidays). U.S. citizens are also encouraged to read the Country Specific Information for India.