A Sikh man, Kamaljit Ram, who provided shelter and support to Khalistani militants in India for more than a decade, has been allowed entry to Canada, according to a recent decision by a Canadian immigration tribunal. The ruling was based on the understanding that Ram’s actions were primarily motivated by necessity and a fear of retaliation, as reported by the National Post newspaper.
The original decision to deny Ram entry into Canada was made by the federal government after he revealed during an interview with Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers that he had intermittently harbored and provided sustenance to armed Sikh militants on his Indian farm between 1982 and 1992. Ram also expressed alignment with the beliefs advocated by followers of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, a Sikh militant and prominent figure in the Khalistani movement who sought a separate Khalistan state and supported other social issues.
Heidi Worsfold, a member of the Immigration and Refugee Board tribunal, determined that the government’s assessment of Ram’s support for armed militants at that time was unduly harsh. She noted that he repeatedly conveyed that he had agreed to host these armed individuals primarily out of fear of the consequences he might face for opposing the group.
The ruling coincides with ongoing diplomatic tension between India and Canada. The dispute was ignited when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made unverified claims regarding potential Indian involvement in the killing of Khalistani terrorist Hardeep Singh Nijjar in British Columbia. India has vehemently rejected these allegations as “absurd” and “motivated.”
The tribunal’s decision highlights the nuanced nature of the situation, underscoring the need to differentiate between those who provided assistance to militants out of fear and necessity and those who actively supported violent causes. The ruling emphasises the significance of considering the context and motivations behind such actions when evaluating an individual’s eligibility for entry into Canada.
This outcome may serve as a precedent for future cases involving individuals who have faced similar circumstances, suggesting that those who acted out of fear rather than ideological alignment may find understanding and acceptance in their quest for asylum or immigration.