Good Energy

The guys at Good Energy have been really supportive and excited about the expedition, so much so that they have made a contribution which allows me to keep the blog regularly updated during the expedition, so they and everyone else can follow the journey. Good Energy supplies 100% renewable electricity sourced from wind, water, sun and sustainable biomass. CO2 from coal-fired electricity generation is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions in the world. Switch your electricity supply to Good Energy using this link and not only will you be supporting the pioneering community of independent green generators, but for every sign up they get they’ll make another donation to help get the bus around the world. It helps you cut your personal CO2 emissions, helps them grow a great business, and helps me get round the world.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Sat Phone Update.

A quick news update on the sat phone trial. And hopefully the last time I blog about it cos I am truly fucking sick of the whole affair.

When I was arrested over 100 officers were drafted in to search for evidence against me. Why this was done is a mystery to me, as the lead officer from Military Intelligence, Captain Jatinder, had already seen the bus and my website. He must have had sufficient doubt to think it was all an elaborate cover story. What a fucking idiot.

The police or Captain Jatinder tipped off the press that they had apprehended a terror suspect and briefly basked in the glory, but I think the scale of the press response took them by surprise. As a result they got scared and cornered themselves and me with them. After such a fuss they couldn’t let me out without a court ruling so they charged me with an anti-terror law because it was a non-bailable offence, meaning only a court could grant bail, even though they were in no doubt by the end of the first day that I was not a terrorist risk.

I in the meantime had to go to prison awaiting a bail judgement and freaked out, hiring the lawyer that the Italian consul recommended, and because he was great, and had to travel 300km, he cost me a small fortune. Not only did he reassure my family, but he killed all the press speculation about me being a terrorist on his first day on the case. The cost spiralled each time the police delayed hearings.

By now the Times of India were writing pretty critical articles of the police’s behaviour, but instead of them dealing with it and ending the criticism, they hoped that by procrastinating, the media interest would die down. Clearly the police need a PR advisor to tell them that dragging things out makes the reputation damage worse. The most frightening thing about this experience is how much power stupid frightened people, can have over me.

In the meantime a Polish guy was caught on his sat phone in Jaipur. The police there, not being the village yokels found in Ajmer, had the good sense to charge him within 24 hours with a technical offence, the judge fined him and gave him back his phone on condition he didn’t use it in India. Speaking to the press, the Jaipur police said “We used our common sense.”

As a result of that arrest and the 2000 petition emails received by the Home Affairs Minister orchestrated through facebook (thanks everyone), the police in Ajmer couldn’t justify continuing the 7 weeks of procrastination in my case,. Not they have dropped the anti-terror charge and a technical offence against me. Thankfully the Polish case has also set a sensible legal precedent for the judge to follow in my case.

It seems that the Rajasthan Military Intelligence have a new piece of kit to play with; a sat phone detector, which they pull out for special occasions (Bangladeshi Presidential visit to Ajmer in my case, a cricket match in Jaipur in the case of the Polish guy). However they still haven’t mastered how to use it. They were adamant they had tracked me making calls in India, however I didn’t. All the gear and no idea. RTFM morons.

I still have a visa that prevents me from leaving the country, and will need the Ajmer police help to get it changed when this is all over. I’m dreading going back to that visa office in Delhi.

The whole experience has brought me much closer to my family, and helped me understand my personal motives for doing this trip and I am facing up to some important personal demons. With hindsight even prison was a really positive experience for me, one I hope never to have to repeat. But let’s not get too gushy about it, this has probably cost about €6000 and killed the dream I’ve been working on for 2 years. I can afford to carry on the journey for now, but I now can’t afford to finish it.

The only lessons I can really take away from this is that people in power can be really stupid, and even more so when they are acting out of fear. Secondly, there is nothing you can do about it if you are in the wrong place at the wrong time

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