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Protests in Canada as ailing Sikh faces deportation

December 05, 2007 11:56 IST

A paralysed Sikh man seeking refugee status in Canada is facing deportation after the immigration office rejected his plea to stay in the country on compassionate grounds, prompting the Indo-Canadian community to come out in his support and stage protests.

Laibar Singh, who entered the country in 2003 on a false passport, suffered a brain aneurysm last year, leaving him bed-ridden and unable to feed himself.

He appealed to the Citizenship and Immigration Canada to let him stay on humanitarian grounds, saying returning to India would be akin to a death sentence as he would not receive proper treatment.

He may be deported to India on December 10 if his appeal against is rejected by Federal Court of Appeal. The Canadian Labour Congress, British Columbia Coalition of People with Disabilities, the British Columbia Hospital Employees Union, the Multifaith Action Committee, and the gurdwaras have decided to oppose the government's action.

They staged a rally in Singh's support at the local immigration office in Surrey on Sunday and plans another protest demonstration at Vancouver International Airport when Singh would be deported on December 10, which also happens to be the World Human Rights Day.

When 48-year-old Singh was about to be deported in July this year, he was taken out of hospital by his supporters and given sanctuary at a gurdwara in Abbotsford in British Columbia.

The police didn't enter the shrine keeping in view the religious feelings of the Sikhs.

Singh, a former labourer and soldier who has four children in India, has been living in the Abbotsford temple since July, apart from a short stay in the hospital in August.

While hospitalised, he was briefly detained by Canada Border Services Agency officers and Abbotsford police on August 13.

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.

He was granted a 60-day stay till October 20, which was again extended later.

Singh made a bid to stay on compassionate grounds because he believed he would not have access to acceptable medical care in India, his lawyer, Zool Suleman said.

The lawyer plans to appeal to Immigration Minister Diane Finley and is filing a judicial review in a last-ditch effort to prevent the deportation.

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