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The Supreme Court has asked Attorney General Goolam Vahanvati to examine a plea by US Vietnam war veteran Jeff Knaebel seeking political asylum in India. Knaebel describes himself as a practitioner of Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence.

A bench of Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice H.L. Dattu told Vahanvati that the petitioner was seeking relief from the central government and that he should try to do the needful.

The attorney general told the court that he would ascertain the pleas made by Knaebel. The court listed the matter for further hearing July 12.

Known as “Sojourner Free” to friends, Jeff Knaebel, who is associated with the Gandhi Ashram at Shimla, expressed his disillusionment with the American way of life and the militaristic polices of the US.

The 72-year-old American national says that he tore his American passport and birth certificate at Rajghat June 19, 2009 and thereafter became stateless. Living in Shimla since 1995, Knaebel fears American reprisal after his action of tearing up the passport and speaking out his mind on US policies.

He told the apex court that US policies were based on “military machine and destruction which would one day consume this beautiful planet”. He described himself as a believer and practitioner of Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence.

Knaebel, who gifted all his assets in the US before coming to India, had made a representation to the Prime Minister’s Office seeking asylum. Not getting any response, he moved the apex court for necessary directions to the government to grant him asylum.

Knaebel, who served the in the US Navy as a commander, says that America was a monument of all that stands for materialism and that he wanted to continue with his mission of bringing a smile on every face.


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