How to solve the situation around the seized satellite phone in India
I came to Padum more than week ago to solve the situation with our satellite phone that had been seized. It should be just a formal issue – I will just sign some paper and it is done. But things do not seem to be that easy. And don’t forget – I’m in India. I arrived at the police station in Padum where the seized phone is at the moment. They do not speak English very well so I have an interpreter with me. I asked for the paper that I should sign and they asked me for the paper with permission that we can use the phone. And if I don’t have it that I should write it down..in English. They have all their documents and orders in English but they do not understand English very well and that makes the situation become bizarre. Each of us wants something different and get to the blind spot because the officers are not in charge to decide anything regarding this situation.
And that’s how my never-ending phone calls with people who are not in charge started. When someone is to give you a permit for something, nobody is in charge. But almost everybody is in charge to forbid you something. So I called at least 5 superintendent officers of Police in Kargil which I was referred to do by Police in Padum. And the answer was always the same. They are not competent to decide in this case. One officer told me to go to Kargil to speak with him personally. I asked if it would change anything when he is not in charge. He hesitated for a while and told me that it would not make any difference so there is no need for me to come. So finally, I was referred to the Czech embassy where they were willing to help us, and to the Ministry of Communication. I called about 15 people at the Ministry of Communication which meant 15 new calls. Even at the Ministry of Communication they did not know how to connect me from one officer to another. And believe me …you really need a lot of patience for every single call! The phone reception is not very reliable here. For example I haven’t had a reception on my mobile phone since yesterday evening. And it is not a problem just with mobile phones but also with landlines. When you are lucky and the phone works sometimes you still have to dial the number for twenty times. After I repeated the story about our situation for 15 times there was finally someone on the phone who is in charge to do something in our case. I was so happy!... but just for a little while. The Director of Career Services was a very adamant man who didn’t even let me explain our situation properly. The only thing he told me was that Thuraya satellite phones are completely forbidden in India, no exceptions, no short-time permissions. And if we want to use satellite phone we have to use another type. And he hanged up.
So that’s how I got back to the Police station in Padum where I started a new round. When the police had seizing the phone it had been arranged that in case of unsuccessful permission they will release the phone to send it to the Czech Republic. I came to the Police station in Padum to ask them for it. We decided that before we get the permission the best option is to send the phone back to the Czech Republic. Unfortunately, they are not in charge to make a decision in this case and without the permission they can’t release the phone. I tried to explain that it had been arranged and that I don’t want them to release the phone for using it but just to be able to send it out of India. I suggested that they go with me to the post office and see that I really send it. Their reply was that they are not competent to do it! So here it is again – police in Kargil, Czech Embassy and Ministry of Communication. The phone is still in Padum, we can’t use it, we can’t send it out of India and nobody is in charge to decide what to do next.