Malaysian spiritual seeker recounts how he ended up in Varanasi jail

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New Delhi, Aug. 31 (ANI): A Malaysian spiritual seeker, who had come to India to learn Vedic healing, had to spend almost two years in an over-crowded Varanasi jail for violating Indian immigration laws.

A follower of the Krishna Consciousness movement, Lim Soon Seng of Johor landed on the ghats of Varanasi in 2001. For the next six years he diligently renewed his visa as he wandered in orange robes with sadhus (holy men) and lived a life of solitude.

But Lim's spiritual sojourn turned into a nightmare when his passport expired in 2005 and he failed to renew it.

For the next 20 months, Lim, in his 50s, languished in Varanasi jail, one of the most crowded and dreaded Indian jails where notorious criminals are held, the Star Online reports.

Lim was charged under Section 14 of the Foreigners Act, where offenders can face a jail sentence of between six months and seven years.

A German diplomat, who visited the jail to meet a fellow citizen, came across Lim and notified the Malaysian High Commission in Delhi about his predicament.

Once the embassy assured the local district magistrate that he would be repatriated to Malaysia safely, Lim was released.

"I lived with hardcore criminals, about 120 prisoners in the same cell. We slept on the floor with just a blanket and ate dhal and chapatti. Sometimes I asked the prison doctor for milk.

"Several times during my trial, I pleaded with the magistrate to release me but he refused. He said this was a serious offence," Lim said over a home-cooked dinner at the High Commissioner's residence in Delhi.

Now, the Indian government needs to issue him an Emergency Certificate to allow him to depart from the country. (ANI)

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