Southern Alberta Newspapers – Lethbridge
Family members and friends are begging Canadian officials to help release a former Lethbridge man being held captive in India.
They’re urging the federal Conservative government and its high commissioner in New Delhi to help free 22-year-old Jayden Kolesar. His aunt, Kelly Mankow of Taber, reports she found him in a West Bengal hospital that’s “filthy and disgusting and unimaginable.”
Mankow is one of several family members who flew to India after a Canadian foreign affairs official reported police had arrested Kolesar “for wandering the streets.”
Kolesar, a graduate of Catholic Central High, has been living in India.
“He wasn’t doing anything wrong,” Mankow says. “But they were worried about his safety.”
At some point, she adds, her nephew lost his passport and all his identification papers.
“We have spent days and days in the police station, the consulate office, the foreign regional registration office, the court house and on and on,” she says.
Neither the police nor the Canadian consulate wanted the man detained, Mankow and his father, Ward Kolesar learned.
“They just wanted to find him a safe place to be.”
But when none was readily available, she says the police took him to court – and the judge ordered him detained in a mental health institution in Berhampore, a city north of the seaport of Kolkata (Calcutta).
“The doctor at the hospital gave a discharge on our first day of arrival,” she explains. “But the court wouldn’t accept that alone.”
“They wanted a detailed report from the hospital saying Jayden isn’t dangerous and is safe to travel.”
More than a week has passed, and Mankow says state officials in West Bengal are still refusing to release their captive Canadian.
“Each time we go to court, the judge gives more conditions.”
Kolesar still “seems his normal self,” she reports. “But each time we are promised his release, it gets taken away.”
India has different laws, customs and languages, Mankow notes, and communication can be difficult.
“We get different responses from everyone we ask.”
So Kolesar’s family is urging Canadians to plea for his release, by sending a note to Mr. Sihgn at the high commission office at Delhi.firstname.lastname@example.org
“Jayden needs to be released,” Mankow says. “This is so unjust, words cannot explain.”
Meanwhile a Taber friend, Todd Ginther, is urging Medicine Hat MP LaVar Payne to intervene. Ginther sent a letter to the MP Tuesday night.
“Can you tell me what exactly our government is doing to help out?” he’s asking his representative in the letter.
“For the life of me, I can’t understand why they can’t get much if any help from our government.”
Later Wednesday, however, there appeared to be at least a glimmer of hope, as Mankow posted on her Facebook page the situation was at least improving, thanks to a groundswell of support from friends, family and the general public.
“Just wanted to send a quick update that we have been getting a lot of help from our Canadian consulate and the high commission,” she said. “Things are starting to look up. I believe it is because of all the phone calls, emails and publicity that you guys have worked so hard to submit on our behalf.”