Paralysed Sikh finally offers to be deported to India

October 24th, 2008 - 9:46 am ICT by IANS  

Vancouver, Oct 24 (IANS) A paralysed Sikh, whose case made headlines in Canada as he evaded deportation by seeking sanctuary in gurdwaras here for 15 months after failing to get refugee status, has now decided to leave Canada.Forty-eight-year-old Laibar Singh, who came to Canada from Punjab on a fake passport in 2003, was denied refugee status and ordered to be deported in 2006. But before he could be deported, Singh became paralysed and was admitted to hospital.

When the authorities came to pick him up from hospital and put him on the plane back to India in July 2006, his supporters whisked him to the sanctuary of a gurdwara in the city of Abbotsford near here.

He was arrested a month later when he came out of the gurdwara to seek medical help. But the Indo-Canadian community got him a 60-day reprieve by depositing a bond of $50,000.

After a couple of such reprieves when the Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) took him to Vancouver airport to put him on an India-bound flight, thousands of Indo-Canadians averted the deportation by blocking the airport.

Later, the community lost the $50,000 bond as Singh failed to report to the authorities for deportation even as his supporters, lawyers, the influential Canadian Labour Congress and other bodies petitioned the Canadian government to grant his refugee status on humanitarian grounds.

“After 15 months, I am now tired and ready to go back to India. The Canadian border agency have been threatening me all the time - that I have no choice but to leave Canada. I don’t want to land to jail as I have my children waiting for me in India,” Laibar Singh told IANS.

“I spoke with my lawyer Tuesday and told him to inform the Canadian Border Service Agency that I am ready to go back to India. they have to decide the time and date of deportation,” said Singh who is under the care of the Kalgidhar Darbar Sikh Temple at Abbotsford on the outskirts of Vancouver.

With a choked voice, he said, “The Canadian government could have granted me refugee status as they have has done so in the past. But they didn’t. Let us see now what happens. I have not yet informed my children in India about my decision.”

The Indo-Canadian community has already collected $32,000 for Singh.

“We will give him this money and raise more so that he is well taken care of India. I am personally giving him $5,000. We are also sending some medical equipment, including wheelchairs, to his care in India,” said Sikh temple president Swarn Gill.

A widower and father of four, Singh hails from Sohal Khlasa village near Jalandhar.

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