Champhai

tim04

 

Dear Ezra and Lian,

There was also a second reason I went to the police station on Thursday, June 24, 2015. I also know about the smuggling of enriched uranium from India to Burma.

Around April, 2001, I gave a private interview to a RCMP liaison officer at the Delhi High Commission. I gave her all the details I knew about enriched uranium smuggling from India to Burma. It was her intention to pass the information to the Indian authorities. I told her, if I wanted to do that, I would just tell my father-in-law who was an Inspector General of Police (top cop for a city the size of Toronto). The police and local authorities were in on the smuggling. Why tell their colleague?

After the terrorist attacks of 9/11, I sent this information to the FBI through a website. No one ever followed up on it. It probably got lost in mountains of data at that time. I would be willing to give another interview to the RCMP or CSIS if anybody there is interested.

In the Middle East, they are entering a new stage in the race to get nuclear weapons. I believe it’s important that world knows, potentially there is a stockpile of enriched uranium in Burma or that India is a potential supplier. This time it is my intention to pass this information on to any international police, government or non-government agencies that are mandated to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Any government that is under nuclear threat, I would talk to them.

What I know kids, isn’t much. It all came from a 30 minute conversation that haunts me still. It’s where I probably made the worst decision of my life.

Shortly after I married Mommy on Sept. 8, 2000, we had a wedding reception in Champhai, Mizoram, India. This is where your mom’s father is from. Most of his family lives there. It is very close to the Burma border and the only crossing from Mizoram into Burma. A man introduced himself to me. He said he was one of Zopari’s (Mountain Flower) cousins. Which really means he’s from the same Bawlchim clan as Mommy.

This man chatted with me briefly and then he asked me what my profession was. I told him I was a nuclear operator. Then he asked me if I wanted to buy some uranium. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. He gave me a price. He told me there were truckloads of it just outside of the town. He said let’s go there now. I kept asking him questions, trying to buy time while I figured out what to do. His answers seem to be totally innocent. Like he thought this was a chance for him to make some money. Here I was a nuclear worker in this completely out of the way place, just exactly at the same time as there was a big supply of nuclear fuel from the nearby state of Meghalaya (a few hundred miles away). I won’t give you the details of our conversation. That’s for the professionals. He believed this was highly enriched uranium, but his description of what was in the trucks sounded like low enriched uranium used in commercial reactors.

This guy had me totally convinced there was a significant quantity of uranium for sale. The buyers in Burma wouldn’t mind if I picked up some. This guy was convinced it was totally legitimate. After all, he said the Champhai District Commissioner and the police knew about it. They had seen the trucks and were protecting them.

I had to make a decision. This guy wanted to take me right then to go see it. I could not imagine any scenario where I could do that and live to see the next day. Mommy was with me. Auntie Beth and our friend Sarah were in Mizoram as well. Your grandpa was a really powerful man, who could order a serious investigation if anything happened to me. Still, that would have been on the Indian side. I was sure somebody from the Burma side had to be there protecting their delivery. If they saw me, they would have shot me on sight and I felt anybody connected with me. My would-be uranium peddler seemed to be oblivious to the seriousness of what was happening.

I told the man I was just an operator and not a buyer. I couldn’t afford those prices. I said goodbye and walked away. Then I started wracking my brain for ideas. Do I call your grandpa? No, the police are in on this. I would be putting him and his career at risk. Do I call overseas to the Canadian police? No, we were in a restricted state, with restricted mobile phone usage, near the border. Do I try to contact the CIA? No way, I had already once been accused of working for the CIA. That put me in an Indian jail for sure. Good chance all calls were monitored by the Indian government and they may have been involved. At the end of the day, I just played it cool. Like nothing happened. I didn’t change our schedules. I didn’t tell anybody until we got to Delhi months later.

Maybe someday, someone will have mercy on me. They will tell me I met Mr. X. He’s always fooling with people. He has an amazing ability to lie and memorize information. He can tell great fictional stories. Maybe someone from the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation will say it was just a test. Some paranoid local bureau chief wanted to trap the son-in-law of an IGP. I passed the test and kept his family’s honour. It would be a huge relief. That person would have my immense gratitude. That’s very unlikely to ever happen, though.

Long after you are adults and I’m an old man, I will probably be in the Lushai Hills and the Chin Hills. I might be helping farmers grow more food. I might be working in an orphanage, setting up malaria clinics, helping feed starving people or teaching in a school again. Really though, I will be there with an ear to the ground, listening for tales of a lost, dangerous treasure; a Pandora’s box. I would love to spend all my retirement years fishing on some quiet, Canadian lake. I know I won’t be. I will be chasing a ghost. I will be trying to find some man in the shadows; looking for clues and trails where none exist. I will be trying to stop this nuclear material from being turned into weapons that could kill millions. Mautam will return again before I see or hear anything useful. Please let me go and leave me be.

I will always love you,

Dad

 

 

 

 

 

Prison Break

a stroll

Dear Ezra and Lian,

I hope someday, someone will turn this story into an action movie. One day, I went to visit my friends at a camp in the jungle near Champhai. They were there helping young men go through the de-addiction process. In a poor place with few resources, this is how you get off of heroin or painkillers. You go “cold-turkey”. You just stop everything. Your friends will help you with intravenous fluids to prevent you from de-hydration. They will pray for you as go through the horrors of withdrawal symptoms. They will clean you up as you sweat, throw up and hallucinate. They will hold you as scream in agony for days and days and days. It’s amateur, but it’s all they have for the addicted.

My one friend told me about his friend from the area. His sister was a drug addict. She somehow had crossed the border into Burma and got herself imprisoned at a heroin processing camp. This is basically a prison where the drug lords use drug addicts to help package heroin for export around the world. There are fences and guards with machine guns. Not to keep the army or police out. No, they are all paid off to turn a blind eye. The guards keep the inmates from running away. Once you go in, the only way you will leave is as a dead person.

My friend’s friend, didn’t forget his sister. He found out where she was and he went to get her. I don’t know how he did it, but somehow he found this prison, got in and got his sister. He snuck her out of the camp and they ran for home. As she started to go through withdrawal he carried her the rest of the way.

I hope one day I get to meet this man and hear his story firsthand. It’s a miracle they survived. The drug lords in Burma are vicious and would think nothing of killing both of them. A story of courage like that is what real love is like. Risking one’s life to save another’s life.

I want you two to know, without a hint of exaggeration, I would do the same thing for you. If you ever end up in a similar situation, your Daddy is coming to get you. I wouldn’t care how it would happen, but I will not leave you to suffer your cruel fate. If every normal way of rescue was exhausted (legal, financial, etc.) I will put my love for you into action. No jungle is too thick, no mountain too high, no situation too dangerous, I’m on my way. Ezra, I already had to mentally and emotionally prepare that you been kidnapped. I had begun the preparations to rescue you. In the end, I didn’t need to do it. However, I had already set my mind to walk away from everything to come and get you no matter the danger. I’ve planned it once for Ezra. I would do it for real for both of you.

The strange thing is, all three of us have lived in a prison camp for a very long time. I have failed as your father by letting us live here for so long. If I truly love you, I can’t keep you here. We are leaving this prison now. Since you have lived in it all your lives, you have no idea that this isn’t normal. You are going to start experiencing true freedom.

Unfortunately, we can’t sneak out. I have tried and tried. I used every amount of my brain power to think of another way, but there isn’t one. We have to blow the doors off this prison and walk out. It’s dangerous to leave, but it’s more dangerous to stay. So we’re going. Now.

It is difficult to tell you kids this, but most of those in this prison with us, will stay behind. They don’t see this place as a prison, but as a palace. They think these walls protect them. They live a life of luxury. If you close your eyes to the suffering of others, it is very comfortable here. Many of them will be mad at your dad. Don’t worry. Maybe a few here and there will take this opportunity to escape. Hopefully, many will decide to blow holes in these prison walls and set the captives free. Whatever happens, today is the day of our liberation. You will grow up to be a free man and a free woman.

Hold my hands. Be brave. Let’s go.

Your Dad