Losing some of my close long-time friends burned alive in a forest wildfire which could have been prevented, being cornered as a scapegoat accused of a unfortunate incident I was not directly involved with, hunted down by police trying to arrest me, mine and CTC’s public reputation being trashed in the news media, the death of a vibrant 40 thousand member community tirelessly built with passion over a decade which changed the lives of thousands, my passport and freedom being taken away unable to visit my ageing mom, the mentally draining legal process going on for 6 years, financially mounting legal costs draining my life savings (35 lakhs and counting…), the time consuming and psychologically draining court hearings over the years, unable to be with my 92 year old terminally ill mother in her final days, mom feeling abandoned by her only son who cannot tell her he could not visit all these years being a criminally accused, the feeling of hope of making a legal breakthrough repeatedly turned into disappointment over the years…
Although I prefer to carry my personal burdens silently on my own shoulders, at this moment I need to reach out to you for a helping hand. If CTC or my personal journey has positively impacted your life in any way then kindly consider taking a small part of the financial burden from my shoulders in this year long legal battle that has been mentally exhaustive, time consuming and financially draining… I am unable to appeal through major fundraising platforms which focus on medical causes. IMPS on the account below is preferred as recent RBI guidelines have restricted the number of UPI transactions:
Peter Rene M Van Geit
A/C 100 5730 0232
IDFC Bank, Chennai, Parrys Corner
- UPI1: peter.vangeit-1@okhdfcbank
- UPI2: peter.vangeit-3@okicici
- UPI3: peter.vangeit-2@okicici
A big thanks to all those who reached out so far. As of 21 Jan 28.11 lakhs contributed through 660 supporters. Apologies if I missed out anyone.
My name is Peter Van Geit, born in Belgium, settled in India in 1998. For 25 years India has been my home; my life, work and future are here. I founded the Chennai Trekking Club in 2008, a non profit volunteer based community which grew to 40 thousand members over a decade and engaged in many outdoor, environmental and social activities transforming the lives of many. We rescued 130 people during the 2015 Chennai Floods and provided relief and rehabilitation to many affected communities. During the 2018 Gaja cyclone we built 200 homes for those in need.
In 2018 several hikers died in a natural forest fire near Kurangani, many of them close friends of mine. Although I was not directly involved in the organisation of this trek, the police filed an FIR and tried arresting me. Two months later I was granted anticipatory bail stating there is no evidence to blame me. My passport was confiscated and I could no longer travel home or work since then. My dad passed away and my 92 year old mother in Belgium has stage four breast cancer and as the only son am unable to be by her side during her final days. I have been entangled in a long drawn legal battle which has been stressful, time consuming and a huge financial burden with no definite end in sight. Legal expenses have amounted to 35 lakhs so far. I prefer to carry my personal misfortunes on my own shoulders but at this moment I need to reach out for your help as the ongoing legal expenses are draining my life savings.
India is Home
My name is Peter Van Geit, born in a small village in Belgium. I came to India in 1998 to set up a small software team for CISCO. I fell in love with India, its warm people, natural beauty, colourful culture and vibrant energy and diversity. In 2008 I founded the Chennai Trekking Club, a non profit volunteer based platform that introduced thousands of youth into sports and outdoors. Over a decade CTC grew to 40 thousand members and was active in various sports, social and environmental activities. For 10 years we organised the Chennai Coastal Cleanup involving 100+ organisations and 10 thousand volunteers in removing tons of garbage from the beaches to create a positive change in society.
CTC has taken out many less privileged children on outdoor camps. In 2015 CTC rescued 130 people during the Chennai floods, distributed tonnes of relief materials, cleaned up the city, did rehabilitation efforts in 20 villages and built a school near Pulicat. CTC was personally recognised by Chief Minister M Karunanidhi. In 2018 CTC was instrumental in relief and rehabilitation during the Gaja cyclone building 200+ homes for the most affected and rebuilding a rural school. In recent years I started exploring and mapping the Indian Himalayas.
In March 2018, several hikers got caught into a natural forest fire near Kurangani (TN) and several died. Even though I was not directly involved with this trek, an FIR was filed against me by the police who tried to arrest me for 5 weeks. I reached out to the Belgian consulate which was not ready to help. In May, Justice G R Swaminathan granted me anticipatory bail stating “He appears to be a good Samaritan who is motivated by a genuine desire to serve the public at large. He has associated himself with various civic and sports activities. There is absolutely no prima facie material to point fingers at the petitioner in this case”.
Mom is dying alone
I came to India in 1998 and used to visit mom in Belgium every 6 months. Whenever returning to India she would get emotional with her eyes full of tears. Dad died in 2014 and being the only son, she has been alone in Belgium. Since 2018, I have not been able to visit her as my passport was confiscated. She is now suffering from stage 4 breast cancer and has little time remaining to live. A few months ago I had raised a petition to obtain permission to visit her before she died. With no support from the Belgian consulate it was a 4 months heart wrenching legal battle against time to get my passport back and be allowed emergency travel to see mom. The doctor in Belgium repeatedly told me she would not be alive if I did not come soon. Under severe psychological stress I finally made it and mom was overwhelmed to see her only son again after many years. Before returning back to India I had to make her funeral arrangements in advance while she was still alive as I’ll not be able to be beside her during her final days…
Need your help
From being on the run for months evading arrest, my public image being trashed in the media, being blamed for the death of my own close friends, unable to be with my terminally ill ageing mother, time consuming legal proceedings and attending distant court hearings, the years long legal process has been time consuming, mentally exhausting and financially draining. Legal costs have been mounting over the years and draining my life savings. I therefore see no other option than reaching out for your help in this long drawn legal battle. Your contribution – even small – is much appreciated.