Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Sunday 4 January 2009 : ONE YEAR !

It’s been one year now that the concern took hold of us and hasn’t let go since then.

We have been waiting for any news from Jean-Baptiste, especially for festive periods, and these news have never come. During the first days of January 2009 the certainty that something bad had happened to JB worried us a lot. We have warned the authorities. And we were right.

It‘s been one year since the questions, assumptions, hope has always been followed by disappointment. It doesn’t leave us undisturbed.

We have progressed very little, not to say - not at all, in spite of two travels to India.

The first to BOMBAY, in May 2008, has revealed nothing of what has happened to JB. His name hasn’t been found anywhere. Where did he sleep the night of the 4th of December? Nobody has seen him. We could have doubted that he actually arrived in Bombay, if not the two cash withdrawals the 5th December 2008 that required typing the PIN code. And his immigration form, the only document produced by the Indian police.

Since our first travel to India we wanted to leave the Indian authorities the time to give authorisation for French police to come to India in order to investigate the case with Indian police. We have been waiting for the agreement of the Indian minister of the interior to execute the rogatory commitee of inquiry. Unfortunately nothing appears to progress.

The aim of the travel was to search for Jean-Baptiste alive, who would not really be himself to live without money and be in an irregular situation, his visa being expired since 4th March 2008.

We didn’t choose our route at random. It has been set for us for the months passing, after several accounts for which we have no doubt of a good faith of the witnesses:

- first of all in GOA, a beggar of European origins had been reported by a witness who believed to recognise JB from the website. After the inquiry it turned out it was a Russian who is being kept in a mental hospital at the since then. But we never were allowed to see his picture.

- following « faits divers le mag » broadcast of May 2008, a french-indian couple was struck by the resemblance of Jean-Baptiste’s picture shown on screen with an individual who intrigued them on three or four occasions on the VARKALA beach, Kerala. He had been on a European bike the last time they had seen him. It was probably in February.

- finally in June, an e-mail from a traveller reports the presence of Jean-Baptiste, or someone alike, at the « Raj Lodge » hostel, Rangapouillé street, PONDICHERY on the 4th of March 2008. The name of the traveller appears on the hostel register, but unfortunately not the name of JB. In the general opinion it doesn’t exclude completely the presence of JB in this hostel. Particularly since in the hostel it was also the bicycle that intrigued the traveller.

We hoped that these leads would allow us to rule out the criminal theory in Bombay and spare us searching this city again.

As we decided to start our awareness action with the last of the leads, that is Pondichery, we are here for another few days. We also knew JB had 2 addresses in Pondichery.

Staying in a region where people speak French and the roads have still names seemed to us to be more simple and less disorientating. Our poor knowledge of English has prevented us from taking action for a long time. We were able to print one thousand self-adhesive tracts and one thousand flyers coated with plastic, in English and Tamul, hundred twenty T-shirts, red and white, in all the sizes, with a picture of JB, hoping not to let the information about his disappearance die off. It’s just on the Christmas Eve that we have been in possession of all those materials.

The 5th of December 2008 we were able to carry out a press conference in order to draw attention. And in fact, few days after we received a phone call from the consulate: a journalist had been locked up in a church with a troubled European. Perhaps Jean-Baptiste? Hope, suspense, disappointment. There was a bright side – press conference was bringing the results. People knew that JB had gone missing. It wasn’t the case a few days before.

There is definitely a media coverage job to do, but it’s a huge job. Why the authorities don’t take care of this, for better effectiveness? People reported after learning from the media about disappearance. They couldn’t then report at the moment when they saw him.

In fact, is he really being searched for? No! Only by ourselves. His disappearance doesn’t affect anyone unfortunately.

Our long stay in Pondichery wasn’t useless. It helped us familiarize ourselves with India, the country that took away our son and which seemed to us so frightening and hostile. It allowed us to make friends, Indian as well as French, approach the social activities in cities, sponsor a little girl, discover Ashrams, Hindu and Christians and the kindness of the Indian population.

We have questioned lots of people, shown over and again the missing person poster, experienced hope and disappointment; because we were being told sever times that JB came to Pondichery. We don’t have any piece of evidence of it.

One year after, the same questions from the beginning are still on our heads.

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