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

 

 

 

 

 

Auntie and Uncle

tim03

Dear Ezra and Lian,

Just a couple weeks before I married your mom (Wedding was Sept. 8, 2000) I was talking with my great aunt. Auntie Marge told me how she and my Uncle Bill were so happy for me. They were proud of the man I had become. They were wishing me the best of marriages. She then said, she wondered what would have happened if they had adopted me.

I was stammered, “What are you talking about?” She said that my dad had asked them to consider adopting me. My great aunt and uncle thought and prayed about it, but they felt they were too old to look after me permanently. Their youngest child, my second cousin Mary, was 9 years older than me. I knew that shortly after I was born that my mom had a mental breakdown. She was hospitalized for months. My dad worked full time and in those days in my small town, there was few daycare facilities. Every week, I was sent to stay at a different family’s house until my aunt and uncle took me in. I stayed there 7 months.

My aunt told me that at the time my dad asked, it looked like my mom would never be discharged from the hospital. In the early 1970s, that would not have been unusual for someone with a severe mental illness. My dad didn’t think he would be able to raise me by himself, so he thought I would be better off with my Auntie Marge and Uncle Bill.

I was shocked. It was the first I had ever heard about it. I called up my dad and asked him about it. He said, “Did they say that? Did it really happen that way? I don’t remember that.” I exclaimed, “Dad, how can you forget something like that? Are they lying?” My dad said, “Well, I guess, I did. I didn’t want to get rid of you or anything. Your mom came home from the hospital. So we didn’t need to worry about that anymore. So I never thought about it anymore. I never tried to hide it from you.”

When I found out about this, kids, I had given notice to quit my job. I was moving to India until your mom could immigrate. (At the time, it could have been years, but it turned out to be only 10 months.) All the details of our wedding were unsettled AND I was getting married. This really shook me. At first, I didn’t know what to think. It was great to know so many people loved and were willing to sacrifice for my well-being. Yet, my life could have been totally different. I staggered around for a few days until I processed this. The most nagging thing about this was, “I’m almost 28, why didn’t anybody tell me this before?”

Kids, I have a lot of secrets. There are landmines, which if you step on them, they will blow up in your faces. So I can spend the rest of my life trying to bury them deeper; trying to steer you away from them; trying to protect you from them; wait for that perfect moment that never comes. Or I could just tell you.

I’m just going to tell you. Ezra you have an amazing ability to forgive. Lian, I hope you learn from your brother. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, I hope you can forgive me. I hope you can learn from them.

Love,

Dad