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INS detains Indo-Canadian in Chicago
Ajit Jain in Toronto |
February 23, 2003 17:18 IST
An Indo-Canadian was detained by the United States Immigration and Naturalization Service at Chicago's O' Hare airport on her way to Toronto last month. She was not allowed to call the Canadian consulate and was thereafter sent to Kuwait.
INS officers reportedly accused Berna Cruz, who was born in Thiruvananthapuram and works in a Canadian bank, of using a fake passport and threatened her with prison.
The Toronto Star reported that when Cruz landed at Chicago airport January 27 by Kuwait Airlines flight KU 116, an INS officer called her photo on the passport 'funky,' took her to a separate room for questioning by a group of INS officers and then offered her two options: jail or return to India.
Cruz reportedly began to cry, telling the INS officers not to send her to jail. She was then put on a Kuwait Airlines flight bound from Chicago to Kuwait via London.
An INS officer, the Star reported, cut out the front page of Cruz's passport and filled each page with 'expedited removal' stamps, rendering her passport useless. He defaced the Indian visa Cruz had as she was returning from India after a holiday.
As she took Kuwait Airlines flight KU 115 back to Kuwait, her ticket and damaged passport were handed over to the pilot, Captain Masoud Salem.
Clifford Tellis, a Kuwait Airlines staffer in Toronto, told this correspondent that Salem and the airlines ground staff at Kuwait airport put her in touch with the Canadian consulate in Dubai. Canada only has a trade mission in Kuwait City.
Canadian consular staff from Dubai rushed to Kuwait and issued Cruz with an emergency passport. She flew back, with the help of a free ticket Kuwait Airlines issued, from Kuwait to London and from there to Toronto by Air Canada.
Gurbax Malhi, the Indo-Canadian MP, called the incident "sheer highhandedness on the part of the INS officers."
Cruz has asked Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien to take action in this regard.
She reportedly said INS officials asked how an Indian could have a Latin-sounding name like 'Berna Cruz,' and were unconvinced when she told them her family originally hailed from Goa.
Since the incident Cruz said she has been distraught, feels humiliated and passes sleepless nights.