OTTAWA — The government may be more interested in smooth diplomatic relations with India than in protecting the rights of a Canadian Sikh detained without trial for nearly a year, says Liberal justice critic Bob Kaplan.

In a letter to External Affairs Minister Joe Clark released yesterday, Kaplan noted discrepancies between past statements by Clark and a report released by Amnesty International on the fate of Balkar Singh, a Canadian citizen arrested in the Punjab last November.

India authorities allege Singh was acting as a courier and delivered money to radical leaders campaigning for an independent Sikh homeland. No charges have been laid, but he remains in custody under sweeping antiterrorist laws.

Singh, who worked as a limousine driver at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, has denied the allegations and says he was tortured and forced to sign blank pages which could be used later to fabricate a confession.

Clark told the House of Commons within a month of the arrest that a Canadian doctor had seen Singh in prison and believed there was evidence of torture.

But Amnesty later reported the doctor was denied permission to make a full examination and charged that Singh was being deprived of adequate treatment.

Singh’s lawyer, Rupinder Singh Sodhi, said RMCP officers visited Singh in prison.

Canadian officials have consistently refused to comment on whether the Mounties visited the prison or cooperated with Indian police.

Kaplan demanded in his letter that Clark provide details of the medical examination and explain whether the RCMP or Canadian intelligence officers have questioned Singh.

Article extracted from this publication >> September 30, 1988