Let her return to New Mexico

Colette is from Santa Fe. She started an NGO for women’s health in Dehra dun, India four years ago. She’s been in jail for the last 17 months, and her family is trying desperately to get her out and back home. My talented friend and artist, Zahra Marwan, drew this for our friend, Colette Smith. We are praying Colette will return home safely and very soon. Please share. Thank you so much for using your talents to spread awareness about Colette

I am so happy to be back in the good ol’ USA. I spent my first Thanksgving in a long time back home with my family and friends. After so many years, I was able to see my parents, my friends and my sisters. Kudos to the awesome Superintendent of Police who in an exceptional display of woman empowerment let me return home. I left behind my furbabies, a few amazing friends and my organization. I am so thankful that the Judge acquitted me in the appeal and that my legal team tolerated me till the end and has not dared to ask me for any payment. It was a grueling 4 day journey home with lots of frustration, annoying immigration people, 4 tweets to the Ministry of External Affairs and 2 calls to the Embassy.. however i finallly made it with my convey of immigration officials and 7 bags. I am so excited for this new chapter in my life. So much love to my Dad, my Mom, my aunts, my sisters and all of my amazing friends who have helped and supported me. My book is somewhat delayed. The publishers were insisting that I change the title and that is non-negotiable. I have had people who are in utter disbelief that this is a true story and have even asked me if I made it up. No I did not dream it up. I am now more determined than ever to publish in light of all of the human rights inustices that have to be exposed. Sorry to keep you waiting.XOXO

These people can take my liberty and humiliate me , but they cannot take my SPIRIT, FYI: for the first 6 months in jail, I only had one pair of Aldo boots, one pair of black leggings, one Guess woolen jacket, one racerback bra (very uncomfortable), vaseline as face cream and lipbalm, one comb (no conditioner), 2 pairs of panties. homemade kajal (organic eyeliner), peacock earrings, sunglasses and MYFILES (full of complaints) — at District Court , Dehradun!

New Painting

Message to be conveyed

“The poor, illiterate and weaker sections in our society in our country suffer day in and day out in their struggle for survival and look to those who have promised them equality- social, political and economic…a very large number of under–trial prisoners suffer prolonged incarceration even in petty criminal matters merely for the reason that they are not in a position, even in bailable offences, to furnish bail bonds and get released on bail.”

What makes him cry ?

Why the judicial system has broken down and how to fix it.
Oh, poor litigant, people languishing in jails.” His voice trembled a little. “In the name of development and progress, I beseech you,” he looked at Prime Minister Narendra Modi, “to rise to the occasion and realise that it’s not enough to c¬r¬i¬t¬i¬c¬i¬s¬e.”

Ministry of External Affairs

As Sushma responds to US mother’s tweet, daughter gets medical aid in Dehradun jail.

Colette Smith’s friends said she has a host of medical issues and her health has been deteriorating in prison.

Book to be released Feb 2019

This is the memoir of Colette Smith. Colette is an American who came to India in 2011, after she finished her Masters degree, in an attempt to improve the life of women- she established a nonprofit organization to empower women and adolescents in Dehradun, North India, which is her passion. She worked with the organization she founded, in India, for 4 years and then she was trapped in a fake case regarding narcotics and a pharmaceutical manufacturing factory in the industrial belt, that she was a director of for three months in 2012. She was accused of diverting pseudoephederine raw material. This is her story of the love and hate relationship of being in India, the corruption in the prosecution agencies, the inefficiencies of the judicial system, the horrible atrocities she witnessed in jail and how despite all odds she survived and how she finally got her freedom after spending two years in a small jail. The story is a comedy of horrors and it explains one woman’s struggle to survive and find peace after a horrific judicial experience that nearly cost her life.

Summary

Colette was accused by the Indian Narcotic Control Bureau of diverting pseudoephedrine medicines used for flu and cold when she was one of three Directors of a pharmaceutical manufacturing company, in Dehradun, India, for 3 months in 2012. She was accused and spent two years languishing in jail as the judicial wheels turned. The Narcotics Agency misled the public and judicial system into believing the 6 accused ran a huge drug pin operation from India to Myanmar with a cough and flu medicine. In reality, pseudoephedrine tablets manufactured at the company were caught being smuggled into Myanmar in 2013. The medicines were being smuggled by an army person.

The value of the drugs seized from the company Colette was a director at, were 6000 INR (less than USD 80) which prompted an investigation into the manufacturing company. In India, if you are accused of any crime involving narcotics, it is seen as a crime more heinous than murder and you are guilty until proven otherwise. In India, you are kept in jail during your trial and trials can take 3-5 years. It was a case of corruption in the highest echelon of the Indian bureaucracy, ranging from incompetent public officials, greedy lawyers, callous public, indolent jail officials, malicious prosecutors and the complete and utter failure of the judicial system to provide justice.

During Colette’s as a Director tenure 4000kg of pseudoephedrine was procured to manufacture 6 million tablets of flu/cold medicine of this the Narcotics Agency claims 2000kg of the raw material was diverted to fake companies. Of the 17 companies who bought the medicines, 5 were found to be “fake” entities by the Narcotics Agency, because their address was not found and/or the summons was returned. The tablets were combined with other additives. If and when pseudoephedrine gets into the wrong hands, the medicine can be “stripped” of the additives and used to make recreational drugs.

In order to sensationalize the case, the Narcotic Agency claimed to the media and judicial system that this was a large scale drug racket run by an American woman at an NGO as a cover for her drug dealings. Pseudoephedrine cold/flu medicines are actually on the list of 894 essential medicine in India and are price controlled. Ten tablets cost 6-7 rupees (approx USD .9)

In Jan 2015-Colette was on her way to the US to celebrate her birthday, when she was stopped at immigration. She was arrested at the airport and the Narcotics agency claimed that she was fleeing the country. She faced numerous Human Rights Violations. She was assaulted by the Narcotics Officers, threatened to be tortured, forced to give a false statement, denied access to her lawyers, prevented from calling her family and more. Every single procedure was violated when she was arrested. Numerous complaints weres lodged with the debunked Indian Human Rights Commission. The Human Rights violations were never followed through in India. The commission used tactics to prevent the truth from ever coming to light. The complaints lingered on for 3 years in the Court, the documents were in Hindi, and the Jail officials stopped her from contacting the Human Rights. The government of India wanted to prevent an international debacle. However the worst hasn’t even come to light for India yet!

First, the Director of operations was arrested. Then Colette was arrested and later followed by the owners of the company whose products we manufactured and he marketed, then his brother, then another Director and finally, the general manager.

Colette’s bail was rejected in the lower court and then sent to the High Court. Colette’s bail application had 31 hearings in the high court. Her bail was finally rejected after 31 hearings in the High Court, 9 months later. Colette was on interim medical bail for 2 months due to severe, life-threatening diseases she acquired in jail. When she was on interim bail she was hospitalized two times. Ones for sepsis and the other time for a psychotic breakdown. The trial officially started on Oct 15, 2012, nine months after she was arrested. However, the first witness was not examined until June 10, 2018, 8 months later and 18 months after she was arrested. For 8 months the prosecution created wanton excuses to postpone the court proceeding, causing the accused to languish in jail in violation of human rights. In one display of the prosecution agencies misconduct, the prosecutions’ 1st witness, who was the chief witness and investigating officer was transferred to Bombay 1 day before he was due to give his deposition. When he finally gave his statement it took 7 court hearings over two a month period. This is not unusual in India. This delay tactic is used by but the prosecution agency to keep the accused languishing in jail.

During her imprisonment, she sought legal information under the Right to Information Act (RTI). Information was sought to determine the status of the ” alleged” fake companies. The respective drug control authority provided conclusive evidence that the 5 companies had a valid drug license, verified address, etc. At this point in time, the defense is not able to submit any documentation. The cross-examination by the first accused (all of the accused have an opportunity to exam the prosecutions 1st witness) it was admitted that the investigator concealed exculpatory documents from the court. The Judge ordered the Narcotics agency on 2 occasions to submit the documents. It also became evident that Narcotics Agency had also procured the same documents from the Drug Control office to ascertain the companies existence. These are part of the documents concealed from the court. The cross-examination has had four hearings over 2 months. At this rate, it will take 9 months to complete.

While the trial was unfolding many new facts came to light.
1. All of the investigative witnesses who are witnesses, in this case, have been transferred.
2. The superintendent who spearheaded the investigation against us was suspended for alleged corruption.
3. The RTI’s received were submitted to the court through a separate application under section 340.
4. The Narcotics Agency was operating an Extortion Ring and extorting money from other narcotic manufacturers in the state by demanding money from them or else they would arrest them using our case as an example to scare them. This is not only a rumor but the Uttarakhand Pharmaceuticals manufacturing Association, caught these Narcotic Agents red-handed in a sting operation.

After the 1st bail application was rejected the High Court was closed for the winter from December 2015 to February 2016. Then the Judge, unfortunately, suffered from a brain hemorrhage. Then Indian State was under central rule & there was chaos in the whole state for 1 month.

Then 2nd bail application was resubmitted ot the High Court in June 2016. The Judge refused to hear the case and gave two options; to withdraw the application or get it rejected. During this time – Colette went to the hospital over 100 times with police constables. I was referred to AIIMS Delhi, the largest public hospital in Delhi, over 30 times to meet with specialists since the local doctors did not have the expertise to treat and manage my health problems. Colette missed 40 follow up visits because the police constables did not show up which exacerbated her health care problems.

Her father came to India 6 times to visit & it was the most miserable experience he had ever had. The emotional, physical and financial toll this horror had on her whole family was phenomenal. The US embassy came every month to make sure she was still alive. They could not do anything more than act concerned. They could not interfere in the Indian Judicial system. She was at the mercy of the courts, which are biased to all Narcotics cases. The court was not able to differentiate between standard drug seizure cases to a company case, which was documentary in nature. The prosecuting agency made all of the court documents so complicated so it was impossible to decipher the true allegations. The Prosecuting agency gave inaccurate, exaggerated allegations unsupported by evidence that would be inadmissible at a trial in any other country. The investigation was palpably botched and it was evident prosecutor misconduct. 6 people were in JAIL for a cumulative time period of 93 months when the investigation was so obviously and palpably botched by a national agency. The prosecution was malicious and the agents manipulated the judicial system to prevent any of the accused from getting bail. The resources this Agency spent to persecute the accused is astronomical

Colette was the most expensive prisoner in jail and had the highest medical expense. A narcotics crime is viewed as a crime more heinous in nature than murder in India. It is easier for accused murderers to get bail that a person charged under NDPS, the Judicial system is completely calloused to the people languishing in JAIL during the trial.

ABOUT COLETTE

Colette has her Masters in Public Health from the American University of Beirut (2011). She was in India from 2011 to 2017. She is the co-founder of Bella Health Care NGO in Dehradun, India (bellahealth.org). Colette is originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico and studied at the University of New Mexico. Her family is in New Mexico and they fought for her to come back home. Colette is not a scholar of law, human rights, prison reform, drug policies or India, but she learned a lot through her horrific experiences in India. She is passionate about women’s health and education, specifically reproductive health, adolescent health education, and research. The programs she created have provided services to over 100,000 women, and adolescents and are still operational. The adolescent program she designed was a finalist for the Girl Power Award in 2014, in the health sector. She lived in Dehradun for 6 years with her eight dogs. She now lives in the USA and is working as an infection prevention while working on her Ph.D.

Colette was accused by the Indian Narcotic Control Bureau of diverting pseudoephedrine medicines used for flu and cold when she was one of three Directors of a pharmaceutical manufacturing company, in Dehradun, India, for 3 months in 2012. She was accused and spent two years languishing in jail as the judicial wheels turned. The Narcotics Agency misled the public and judicial system into believing the 6 accused ran a huge drug pin operation from India to Myanmar with a cough and flu medicine. In reality, pseudoephedrine tablets manufactured at the company were caught being smuggled into Myanmar in 2013. The medicines were being smuggled by an army person.

The value of the drugs seized from the company Colette was a director at, were 6000 INR (less than USD 80) which prompted an investigation into the manufacturing company. In India, if you are accused of any crime involving narcotics, it is seen as a crime more heinous than murder and you are guilty until proven otherwise. In India, you are kept in jail during your trial and trials can take 3-5 years. It was a case of corruption in the highest echelon of the Indian bureaucracy, ranging from incompetent public officials, greedy lawyers, callous public, indolent jail officials, malicious prosecutors and the complete and utter failure of the judicial system to provide justice.

Colette Smith was deported from India on November 2017, 8 months after she was released from jail. The immigration officials forced her to stay in India in case the judgement was appealed. The horrors continued even after she was released from jail but forced to stay in India.

DAYS SPENT IN JAIL

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