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Indians rally to support paralysed Sikh facing deportation

By Gurmukh Singh, IANS

Vancouver : The Indo-Canadian community in Canada’s British Columbia province has come out in support of paralysed Sikh Laibar Singh who has been ordered to be deported to India on Dec 10.

Singh had entered Canada in 2003 on a fake passport and has lost appeals for refugee status in Canada. He was paralysed at work last year and is now bed-ridden. A widower, he has three daughters in India.

When Singh was about to be deported in July this year, he was whisked out of hospital by his supporters and given sanctuary at a gurdwara in Abbotsford near here. The police didn’t enter the shrine keeping in view in the religious feelings of the Sikhs.

However, he was arrested a month later when he came out of the gurdwara to seek medical help. But the Indian community intervened to have him released into the care of the gurdwara by furnishing a bond of $50,000 even as his lawyer filed an appeal with the immigration board to allow him to stay in Canada on compassionate grounds. He was granted a 60-day stay till Oct 20, which was again extended by another 60 days.

With Singh now receiving his deportation order for Dec 10, the South Asian community, the Canadian Labour Congress, British Columbia Coalition of People with Disabilities, the British Columbia Hospital Employees Union, the Multifaith Action Committee, and gurdwaras have decided to oppose the government’s action.

They staged a rally Sunday in Singh’s support in icy conditions at the local immigration office in Surrey.

Harpal Singh Nagra, chairman of the South Asian Human Rights Group, told IANS that over 2,000 people would join in a protest rally at Vancouver International Airport when Singh is deported on Dec 10, which also happens to be World Human Rights Day.

Community leaders, Indo-Canadian MPs, human rights activists, hospital union workers and doctors have made representations to the Canadian prime minister and the immigration minister to allow him to stay in the country on humanitarian and medical grounds as Singh would not be able to get the required health care in his village in Punjab. They have promised to pay the government his medical expenses to the tune of $400,000 and meet his annual expenses of $150,000 if he is allowed to stay in Canada.

“About 40,000 people signed a petition in Singh’s support and we went to Ottawa in October to give it to the federal government, but they have not listened to our plea,” social activist Purshottam Bakhshi told IANS.