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Canadian traveller languishing in Indian jail

By Gurmukh Singh, IANS

Toronto : As authorities here allowed an Indian who had entered the country unlawfully stay back in cosy comfort of a gurudwara, an illegal Canadian traveller is languishing in a Bihar jail.

While the Indian, Laibar Singh, has the support of the Indo-Canadian community here, the jailed Canadian businessman Saul Itzhayek has no such backing.

The Montreal businessman was reportedly arrested seven months ago when he tried to enter India with an expired visa.

His family said he was in Nepal on a business trip when he had money wired to him in India. The Canadian businessman had asked his Nepalese driver to pick up the money from India.

Police detained the Nepalese driver with his passport, according to the family. They also alleged Itzhayek was arrested when he refused to pay a bribe to the police.

Though Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Junior Minister Helena Guergis had raised the issue with the Indian delegation at the Kampala Commonwealth Summit last year, the Indian government has done nothing so far to free Itzhayek.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Maxime Bernier again raised the issue Saturday with his Indian counterpart, Pranab Mukherjee, during their talks in New Delhi.

“Minister Bernier also discussed the case of Saul Itzhayek, a Canadian citizen incarcerated in India,” said an official statement released here.

But Sylvia Itzhayek, the sister of the jailed businessman man, said she was not satisfied with it. She said the Canadian government was not pressuring India enough to get her brother released.

Her brother had lost 70 pounds, she said. “He was in the hellhole of the earth. He’s having a very difficult time. I’m very worried about him.”

Sylvia alleged that her brother was jailed because he refused to bribe the jail authorities.

Pressing the government for strong action in the case, she said, “I want to hear action. I want to hear concrete information about what’s going to happen… I want to know when he’s coming home.”