Thursday, March 17, 2011

Himalayan Odyssey 2011 - Update - Arrested ?!

The news out of India is a bit disturbing.   According to the Telegraph, out of Calcutta, Eric and Brad have been arrested in the small, land-locked, Indian state of Sikkim.  According to the article in the Telegraph,  the guys, "were arrested yesterday in Sikkim for travelling to the strategic border state without the inner-line permits mandatory for foreigners. The two had valid passports and visas for entering India. Preliminary reports suggest they flew in without the permits because of a misunderstanding."  

With officiousness, that is endemic in India, "The foreigners were found roaming in a bazaar in Uttarey, a town in West district in Sikkim. They were picked up by the police after they failed to produce the permits.
Deputy inspector-general of police N. Sridhar Rao said the two Americans had used paragliders to sail into Sikkim and had landed on the flat terrain of Dhaap, near Uttarey and close to the India-Nepal border, on March 14." . . .

"The DIG said foreigners must take the permits from check-posts at Rangpo and Melli, the two main points of entry into Sikkim. “Neither Reed nor Sander had the permits and they were charged with entering Sikkim illegally.”
They have been charged under the Foreigners Act for not carrying documents necessary to enter restricted areas in the country. Police officers said that if convicted, they could be jailed between two and eight years and/or fined Rs 10,000 to Rs 50,000."

So - The guys have set the bar exceptionally high, by flying from Himachal Pradesh, across the length of Nepal to land in the land-locked Indian state of Sikkim.  In doing this epic feat the pilots, who have valid Indian Visas, failed to check in for permits at check-posts at Rangpo or Melli. These border check-posts are on roads - not an option for those who chose to vol biv through the Himalaya. . . What's an adventurer to do?

Let's hope this, like most official SNAFUs in India, can be remedied with a simple monetary transaction.  And please don't let this minor bureaucratic hurdle eclipse what they have accomplished.  It's impressive - It's inspiring - and I'll be the first to pony up $100 to bail them out of the Indian hoosegow.

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