Paralyzed B.C. refugee leaves Canada for India
Published Tuesday, November 4, 2008 11:16AM EST
A paralyzed refugee claimant is on his way back to India Tuesday after a failed bid to stay in Canada.
Laibar Singh, 48, said a tearful farewell to supporters late Monday at Vancouver International Airport before his wheelchair was pushed through the doors of the Canadian Border Services Agency's processing area.
In 2003, Singh used a false passport to enter Canada and then fled from Toronto to Vancouver. In 2006, he suffered a massive stroke which left him a quadriplegic.
In December 2007, Singh was ordered to leave the country but he avoided deportation by taking up sanctuary at two Sikh temples in B.C. -- one in Surrey and another in Abbotsford.
The Punjabi man had argued against his deportation, saying the Indian government has wrongly accused him of having links to terrorism.
Singh said he is returning to India now because he misses his four children, who are in their teens and early 20s.
On Monday, Singh told a crowd of about 40 supporters at the airport that he will have only good memories of Canada.
"I'd like to thank the Canadian people. They're good people and Canada has a good name in the world," Singh said.
Surdev Singh Jatana, general secretary of the Sikh temple where Singh had lived in sanctuary, said people criticized Singh for breaking the rules but many with weaker refugee cases have been allowed to stay in Canada.
"It's a black day in the sense that we Canadians are seen as champions of human rights and we are compassionate people and I think we failed him," Jatana said.
He said many supporters of Singh are distraught over the situation.
"It's a loss, it's a shock, and people are very disappointed," he said.
Swarn Singh Gill, president of the Abbotsford, B.C., temple where Singh has been living, said Singh had become depressed about the regular visits from CBSA officials who told him he'd be deported if he stepped outside the temple.
With files from The Canadian Press