British Columbia

Deported quadriplegic refugee claimant heads back to India

Supporters gathered at Vancouver airport Monday night to bid a final, emotional farewell to Laibar Singh, greeting and hugging the unsuccessful refugee claimant who entered Canada on a false passport as he prepared to board a plane and return to India.
A supporter hugs Laibar Singh at Vancouver International Airport as he is about to board a plane back to India. ((CBC))

Supporters gathered at Vancouver airport Monday night to bid a final, emotional farewell to Laibar Singh, greeting and hugging the unsuccessful refugee claimant who entered Canada on a false passport as he prepared to board a plane and return to India.

The quadriplegic man voluntarily showed up at Vancouver International Airport to be deported to his home country of India after the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) rejected his repeated attempts to stay in Canada.

Singh, who was brought to the airport in his wheelchair, said the Canadian government failed to help him.

"The Canadian people are wonderful; they are very good," Singh said through a translator. "But the Canadian government didn't do anything for me. [It] didn't help me at all."

Surdev Singh Jatana, general secretary of the Kalgidhar Darbar Sahib Society Temple, who translated for Singh, said Singh is concerned about his health, but arrangements have been made so that doctors in India will take care of him.

Laibar Singh, who suffered a stroke in 2006 that left him a quadriplegic, says the Canadian government didn't do anything to help him. ((CBC))

Jatana said Singh wanted to thank the Canadians who have supported him in his fight to stay in the country.

"He wants to thank the people who have given support to him and those who have supported his cause," Jatana said.

Singh's saga began when he arrived in Canada in 2003 on a forged passport. He sought refugee status the same year on grounds that he would be persecuted by police in the Indian state of Punjab, where officials have accused him of links to separatist militants. At that time, Singh was not yet disabled.

Singh's refugee claim was denied in late 2003, and his appeals to stay in Canada were turned down by immigration officials, who ruled Singh couldn't remain because he didn't have adequate community ties.

He suffered a stroke in 2006 that left him a quadriplegic and unable to care for himself. He has since argued that he will die if he is deported to India because he won't be able to get proper medical treatment.

Singh first sought sanctuary at the Kalgidhar Darbar Sahib Society Temple in Abbotsford in July 2007 after the CBSA issued a deportation order.

The agency negotiated his deportation with temple leaders in December 2007, but it was aborted after more than 1,000 people blocked his taxi at the departures terminal of Vancouver International Airport. He then returned to sanctuary, first at a Surrey temple, then back at the temple in Abbotsford.

Singh decided to return to India last month.