November 2023 \ Diaspora News \ Diaspora News

Toronto: An immigration tribunal in Canada has ruled that a Sikh man who “housed and fed Khalistani militants in India” should be allowed into the North American country as he did so “mostly out of necessity” and fear of retribution, a media report said.

The move to bar Indian citizen Kamaljit Ram came after he told the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) that he sheltered and fed armed Sikh militants at his farm in India on-and-off between 1982 and 1992, the National Post newspaper reported.

He also told them that he supported the ideas promoted by the followers of late Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, a leading figure of the Khalistani movement, for a separate Sikh state.

The CBSA argued that Ram is ineligible to come to Canada as the immigration law prohibits individuals who engaged in or instigated the “subversion by force of any government”.

However, the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) tribunal said in a recent ruling that the federal government did not have “reasonable grounds” to stop Ram from entering Canada, the news report stated.

IRB tribunal member Heidi Worsfold said that the government failed to note in its assessment that Ram repeatedly said he accepted to host the armed individuals because he “feared the consequences” of being on the wrong end of the group.

“The atmosphere in the Sikh community of the 1980s was rife with militancy where groups of militants, including the Bhindranwale followers, as well as the police created an atmosphere of fear and distrust among many of the local residents,” the ruling read, according to the Post.

Ram said he felt he had “no choice” but to provide food and shelter to the armed militants who showed up at his farm.

“I do not find that Mr Ram’s actions amount to providing a ‘safe house’ or ‘logistical support’ as the (government) has framed it in their submissions,” Worsfold stated in the ruling.

Worsfold agreed with the CBSA that Ram clearly was sympathetic to the notion of a Khalistan state for Sikhs, but he was never a member of the armed militia.

“He listened to the speeches when the militants came to the farm and came to support their ideas, including a separate Khalistan state in India. However, he never became a member of that organisation, nor did he donate money or carry out any activities in support of this group,” the ruling stated.

Worsfold wrote in the ruling that Ram’s provision of food and shelter was mostly out of necessity and within the context of the political situation in Punjab.

The tensions between Hindus and Sikhs in India were at their peak during the time when Ram hosted Khalistani militants -- 1982-1992.

Tags: Canada, Khalistan