Canadian Saul Itzhayek has been jailed and sentenced for 3 years for entering India without a visa from Nepal. Imprisoned in the Bihar city of Motihari, Itzhayek has already been incarcerated for 8 months - with, what he claims is inadequate assistance from Canadian authorities. Full article here, excerpt:
Itzhayek was in Nepal on a business trip and sent a driver into India to pick up a money transfer. The Indian police stopped the driver at the border, and in turn asked Itzhayek to come into India and explain what was going on. He knew he didn't have a valid visa, but says the police offered him safe passage. When he arrived in the country, he was questioned and then charged with "violating India's sovereignty."
In a sworn statement, Itzhayek says the police demanded a bribe. He offered them 50,000 rupees, which is about $1,200, but says they wanted 500,000 rupees, and wouldn't give him time to raise the money. "Now, or forget it."
So, no bribe, no release, and ultimately - three years in prison.
"I know they're all corrupt here," he says, bitterly. "I've told them they can check my file. I've done nothing wrong in 42 years. I have two kids, and all I want to do is go home."
In all the time he's been in prison, Itzhayek has had three Canadian consular visits, and is extremely resentful and critical of the support he's received from his own government.
"They don't want to help you. You're on your own. That's what they told me."
"If this was Stephen Harper's son, I'm sure he'd be out in 24 hours."
Even the prison superintendant indicates that Itzhayek is not a criminal.
My visa actually expired in India and it was a trek into the Byzantine world of Indian bureaucracy to leave in 2005 - which must pale in insignificance next to Itzhayek's suffering - he's already lost 30 kg (I doubt however that incarceration in India will ever become a popular weight loss strategem).
Hopefully Itzhayek's soujourn and suffering will end soon with his return to Canada.
Hmmm...perhaps an exchange of visa violators can be arranged - Canada can send Mr. Laibar Singh to India in exchange for Itzhayeks' return.