Sergei Demin (45), a Russian national, was arrested while trying to cross the border from Birtamode along the Indo-Nepal border without a valid visa Credit: File image

Siliguri: Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) jawans arrested Sergei Demin (45), a Russian national, while trying to cross the border near Siliguri in West Bengal from Birtamode in Nepal without a valid visa. The accused was trying to enter India dressed as a Tibetan monk when SSB officials became suspicious and detained him.

On questioning, Sergei informed the officials that he is a resident of Krasnodar city in Russia, and had been living in India and Nepal for the past five years without any visa, as he had relinquished materialistic life and had become a Buddhist monk.

He claimed that he had first entered India in 2011, and his visa had expired in 2014, after which he had stayed put in the region. This time, he claimed that was headed to Kolkata, as he was taking Sanskrit lessons there.

The SSB officials suspect that he had been travelling to Kolkata via Siliguri on a regular basis. He is able to converse in Nepali, Hindi and Bengali, in addition to his native Russian and English.

On frisking, the SSB jawans recovered over Rs 60,000 from him, following which he was handed over to the West Bengal Police, who have filed a case under Section 282/14 of the Foreigners Act at Khoribari police station. He was presented at Siliguri court, and has been sent to 14 days in judicial custody.

The police are trying to determine his antecedents, and ascertain the veracity of his claims.

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