Peeping Shankar | The mystery of Satyapal’s Darwinian outburst

IB’s super sleuth, Peeping Shankar, investigates the basis on which Minister of State for HRD Satyapal Singh questioned the theory of evolution

Let me begin by putting on record that being the IB’s ‘go to’ man for all seasons and reasons is a thankless job. It means providing inputs for our political masters on things bizarre. And that too without any medal of honour, an overseas account in a tax haven or even as much as a note of appreciation.

For those who may not know of my travails, the last six months saw me dredging interior Tamil Nadu and Karnataka for evidence to prove that it was the uttappam that inspired the pizza in 997 AD. Then I was off to England to gather evidence if it was indeed an apple which fell with gravity on Newton and not a Mac from our Vedic times.

I even visited Woolsthorpe Manor (Newton’s home near Grantham, Lincolnshire) and sat under the famed apple tree and made enquiries but only got an update on the English weather. Understandably, research of this kind does leave me exasperated and exhausted.

But there is no respite for sods like me. Hardly had I put up my feet from my exertions when the Darwin assignment came up. Being methodical, I first had to see if Satyapal Singhji had got his basics right. For example, did the minister conduct a thorough investigation before he came to the sweeping inference that none of us had seen or ever heard from our ancestors about humans evolving from the ape? Or had he, being a natural athlete since his Police Academy days, jumped to that conclusion?

Ananda Chirag (AC) Nelson’s ‘TOP SECRET’ survey

I am happy to report that Satyapalji did take the trouble of ascertaining facts. Intelligence reports confirm that he did employ the services of the Nellore-based international consultants, Ananda Chirag (AC) Nelson, which conducted a survey among adults in four metros, six small towns and five villages. In all 417 male and female respondents were contacted and asked: (a) if they had ever seen an ape transforming into a man and (b) if they had heard of such evolution being witnessed by their fathers/grandfathers /great grandfathers.

The results marked `TOP SECRET’ and in the safe custody of the HRD Ministry were revealing. As many as 95 % of those polled were categoric that they had never seen any such transformation from ape to man. The same 95 % had also not heard of any event being witnessed by their parents/grandparents /great grandparents.

The remaining five per cent fell into the `Don’t Know/ Can’t Say’ category and had not received their Aadhaar cards and hence were grappling with an identity crisis to give a cogent response. As the Nelson team noted in its concluding remarks: “Those struggling with existential questions like `who am I, why am I and where do I belong’ cannot be expected to answer questions relating to so evolved a subject.”

Having served meritoriously in the police for 35 years, Satyapalji studied the Nelson survey with keen interest. He even procured a hand-held LED magnifying glass from Insight Electronics, Kalkaji, Delhi (Bill No. 9142, dated 25-10-2017) for Rs 825 to read between the lines. After eight hours of intense effort he came to the startling conclusion that there was no credible living witness to testify that Darwin’s outrageous postulates were true.

The Minister quickly put down his observations in a diary which I managed to record on my smart phone camera. It said: “My police training has taught me that there should be a credible witness if a case has to stand up in court. Mere hearsay will not do. In the Darwin matter, as the nationwide survey reveals, there are no witnesses. Moreover, no living or dead person has ever recorded a statement before a magistrate under Section 164 of having witnessed the ape to man transformation. There is also no photographic evidence – not even a selfie! The case does not stand.”

Scotland Yard’s revelations

It was further learnt that the Mantriji did not stop his investigations with the survey. He made informal enquiries with the British Police vide a note (D/O 1656/1-12-17/Darwin/ HRD ministry) to Commissioner Cressida Rose Dick, the head of Scotland Yard. In it Satyapalji requested details about the HMS Beagle—the ship captained by Robert FitzRoy on which Darwin had set sail to South America and beyond on a five-year voyage which began on December 27 1831.

An assistant to Commissioner Dick responded to the Minister’s queries in writing in the first week of January this year. The note made the following pertinent points:

*Neither Scotland Yard or London’s Metropolitan Police had ever recorded a statement by Charles Darwin, FRS, FRGS, FLS, FZS.

*No evidence, oral or recorded before a magistrate exists as proof that the HMS Beagle did survey the South American coast with Charles Darwin on board.

* There is no conclusive evidence that the log book of the HMS Beagle was authentic and had not been fabricated.

* Scotland Yard had so far not examined the full-scale replica of the HMS Beagle reportedly constructed by the Nao Victoria Museum in Punta Arenas, Chile.

The rather speedy response from Scotland Yard convinced Satyapalji that he was on to something big. An entry in the case diary he maintains on the ‘Darwin matter’ notes: “Two revelations in the Scotland Yard note calls for a further probe: The fact that there is no evidence to prove that Darwin did go to South America is significant enough. But more important is the suggestion that the log book of the Beagle may have been fabricated. In my police work I have encountered several instances of evidence and records being fabricated in riot, murder and rape cases. So, the question here is whether the log book was tampered with to serve some anti-religious, anti-national or rationalist lobby.”

Clinching evidence

Following the Scotland Yard input, the Mantri made several late-night calls to his former colleagues in the Maharashtra Police. His phone records confirm this and mobile phone taps indicate that Satyapalji had discussed the Darwin case at great length with them. However, no one could provide him leads to pursue the case till he received a call from a young officer who had served in Goa. Here is a transcript of the conversation:

Satyapal Singh (SS): Satyapal here. What is the important information that you would like to share with me…?

Police Officer (PO unidentified): I thought you might be interested in the stories I heard during my stint in Panaji about a British vessel which docked in Goa sometime between 1832 and 1836.

SS: A British vessel? Why should it intrude into what was then Portuguese territory?

PO: I know what I am telling you is all hearsay. But I was told the ship was disguised as a Portuguese vessel. Those on board were not soldiers and therefore unarmed. They came ashore and spent almost four years drinking and making merry. They caught fish, sang bawdy songs and explored the beaches.

SS (excited): What else did you hear…?

PO: Well, I can’t say this is relevant but the locals claim one of the men on board was Charles Shobraj’s great great grandfather. His name was also Charles….

SS: That’s indeed very interesting! And did they tell you the name of the ship?

PO: Yes, they said it was some Almedo Beeaglee-Sheeglee—it almost sounded Marathi….like if you pronounce Google as Googleigh…

SS: Ah! It must be the Beagle. Those chaps must have come to Goa and pretended they were in South America. I tell you, you can’t trust these white men!

The line got cut at this point. But my sources tell me that Satyapalji has been a changed man ever since. His body language says it all. And there is the glint in his eye which suggests that he is on the brink of exposing an international fraud which will shock the scientific world. It was in this backdrop that he made the statement last week that Charles Darwin’s theory was unscientific and must be withdrawn from all text books.

As for my take on the issue, I must confess that my understanding of the science of evolution is rather patchy. So, I would not venture to suggest if Darwin was right or wrong. That’s best left to the CBI and Satyapal Singhji to investigate….

(As imagined by Ajith Pillai)

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