Process for RAP/PAP application needs to be revised

David Lock

I am an Englishman who had the good fortune to marry a Naga.  We had our first child last year and decided that it was now time for our son to meet his Naga kin. My wife and son travelled to the NE in February and I was to meet up with them in April, when after a short period we would return to the UK together.  However, in March my son was taken ill and as a result was admitted to hospital. Therefore I made the decision to travel to the NE so as to assist my wife and bring them both home early. Unfortunately I did not have my Restricted Area Permit (now called a Protected Area Permit apparently, but protected from what?). The application for the RAP that covered my April visit was currently in Delhi awaiting approval.  

I arrived in Calcutta and checked into the Nagaland House hotel. I wanted to explain my situation to the Assistant Resident Commissioner who was based there. Unfortunately I was told that in order to get a RAP I would have to apply to Delhi.  I tried the British High Commission and was given the same answer. The fact that a RAP application takes at least a month meant that this was not an option. I explained the situation to my wife who was still in the NE and after several options were explored I was advised to fly into Dimapur, where I would be escorted to the Assam border by the police.  At the time this seemed like a good idea opposed to flying into Assam and then making my way (on my own) to the state border.  

On my arrival in Dimapur I was met by my sister-in-law and taken to the police station by the airport staff (who I assume were immigration representatives of some sort). I was then told I was being officially deported to Assam. I was taken by armed guard (6 in total) to the Deputy Commissioners office for yet more red tape and was eventually taken to the Assam/Nagaland checkpost. I was met by my wife and other family members and taken to a house in Assam where I was given refuge. My wife and son stayed with me for 1 night but as my son was still not 100% I advised my wife to go back to Nagaland and check into a hotel and keep the boy safe. I intended to meet her a week later when they were both well rested and we could start our journey back to the UK.  It was not the ideal solution but under the circumstances it seemed the best thing to do.  

The following night my wife came for me. She had made a few arrangements and the next thing I knew I was sitting in a hotel in Nagaland with my wife, son and some other family members. For the next 5 days I was literally under a self imposed room arrest. The hotel staff had no idea I was there. When it came time to leave we were driven from the hotel to Jorhat airport in Assam where we flew to Calcutta and after a couple of days we were back in London.

In retrospect I should have never flown into Dimapur. My brother-in-law, who spoke to the police before my arrival was unaware that I would be officially deported. The Superintendent of Police, will no doubt get a pat on the back for his ‘sterling’ work.

So what does the future hold? Will I be allowed to return to India, let alone the NE? How would I attend an emergency if the need arose again? Can I never attend a family funeral?  I think the process for the RAP/PAP application needs to be revised. There should be a fast track application for such emergencies, maybe not related to tourists but at the very least people who have relatives in the region. If the existing process is not updated then it will only result in other people ‘bypassing’ the current laws, which in turn will no doubt result in more problems.

Just so you know my son is now 100% fit and looking forward to his 1 year birthday in a couple of weeks time.