Before the people concerned could open their mouths, and give their own reasons for claiming a refugee status, they were found by the media, and generally, to be cheats and liars. The government had not been able to pass the new laws in Parliament. It appears that much of the hoopla was political tactics to get new legislation rushed through: It floated an armada on the high seas along the Eastern seaboard, and vowed not to spare any expense to seal the Canadian coast line. An MP from Toronto even doubted the integrity of the Sikh associations, which wanted to sponsor putting up of bonds for these men. It was argued by others that as these men had come from Germany and not directly from India, they could not be running away from danger to their lives. No one apparently paid attention to the fact that refugees crossed countries and oceans belonging to countries other than their own to reach welcoming havens, While all this uproar was going on in Canada, the people concerned) « were being denied legal advice and guidance, and the Intelligence Agencies were actively interrogating them. Media poured oil on the fire by disclosing excerpts from) these enquiries and the so called statements. The true process of existing immigration law and civil law was totally ignored by a democratic society, and the word Sikh became a red rag to the bull!

In a note prepared by the Home Ministry of the government of India, it is recorded that two Sikh leaders had certified some people as victims of persecution by the government of India, and that they are political refugees seeking asylum in the host country abroad.

“A number of persons had been lured by unscrupulous travel agents into leaving India under this plea, According to information available with the MEA, 1393 such persons had reportedly sought refugee status in Canada. The Prime Minister (Mrs. Indira Gandhi) had discussed this issue with the Canadian Prime Minister during his visit to Nairobi to attend the UN Energy Conference. The government of Canada has accepted our (India’s) position that there is no basis for such claims. Publicity has also been given to the fact that persons falsely claiming to be refugees will not be admitted into Canada………”(9)

This note does let the Canadian government’s cat out of the bag, and explains the extra ordinary lengths to which it went to flout the current immigration and civil laws.

Article extracted from this publication >> February 19, 1988