Israeli Traveler Jailed in India for Months After Stray Bullet Found in Backpack

Steven Silvenchev was carrying a bag he had used while enlisted in the IDF, and Israeli airport security didn't notice the ammo left inside it.

Illustration: Indian policemen patrol in Mumbai. April 15, 2009.
Illustration: Indian policemen patrol in Mumbai. April 15, 2009. Bloomberg News

An Israeli backpacker, fresh from his military service, has been sitting in a prison in India for seven months now after Mumbai airport authorities discovered a stray bullet left in his bag.

The man, Steven Silvenchev, flew from Israel to Mumbai after his release from the IDF, for what was meant to be a post service trip, Israel National News reported on its website. But upon his arrival in India, a bullet left inside the pack was detected by airport security. Israeli airport security had not noticed it. The bag, said Israel National News, was the same one he used while enlisted in the military.

Silvenchev has been awaiting trial for several months, according to the website report. “I don't know why they keep delaying the trial, but my lawyer has told me that everything is ready for the trial,” Silvenchev told Army Radio.

The Israeli Embassy in India couldn't offer him much help. “I met with them last week and they said that, with all the sorrow they could express, that they cannot get involved in an Indian legal matter. Beyond asking the foreign ministry in Israel for help, they could do nothing," said Silvenchev.

“At first I didn't believe what was happening to me,” he said. “Afterwards I was unsure what would happen, as nobody bothered to speak with me. No one updated me on my situation.”

This is not the first time an Israeli has been imprisoned outside Israel for overlooked ammo left in luggage.