Deharadun, 2017.07.08 (Prithviraj Singh, Hindustan Times): A 56-year-old foreigner in Tehri jail has gone on a hunger strike, leaving jail officials in a fix.
For the past nine days, Serguei Razvozjaev has refused to take food in protest against his arrest. Police have not found any valid document for his Russian citizenship, which he claims. Subsequently, Serguei was admitted to the Tehri district hospital on July 4. “He is protesting against his arrest and imprisonment, saying why he is being treated as a criminal,” Superintendent of Police (Tehri) Sonika said.
Sources in the police intelligence said Serguei was arrested on July 1 for overstaying more than 14 years without any valid document in India. Serguei came to India on a student visa in 1999 and had been wandering across the country ever since then, the sources said.
During this tenure, Serguei stayed at Mathura and Vrindavan ashrams as he followed ISKCON – the socio-religious organisation dedicated to Lord Krishna. The Uttarkashi police said Serguei told the police that his visa expired in 2003 and was overstaying in India since then.
“Although he has claimed to be a Russian citizen but we are yet get the proof as he was not carrying his passport. We have also not found any incriminating information or suspicious motive behind his overstay but a detailed report about him has been sought from the Russian embassy to verify his antecedents and bring out truth. He was staying at Damta village area for the past one month from where the police got the information about him,” Superintendent of Police (Uttarkashi) Dadan Pal told Hindustan Times.
Serguei told his interrogators that he lost his passport in Vrindavan at an ashram but managed to procure a ‘World Passport’ provided by a Washington-based NGO but it is not valid in many countries including India. He was arrested by the Uttarkashi district police but imprisoned in Tehri as the district police has no jail of its own.
Meanwhile, Serguei’s reluctance to take food for the past nine days has left the Tehri administration worried about his health. Doctors said the foreigner may develop serious kidney ailment due to deteriorating health.
“All efforts to make him eat food have failed as he has refused to cooperate so far. On Friday he turned violent when out medical staff to force feed him. He runs the risk of kidney trouble. Efforts are on make him take food,” Tehri chief medical officer Dr YS Thapliyal said.