June 24, 2011 | By Parmjeet Singh
Patiala (24 June, 2011): Despite the Central Government of India’s claim to shorten the so-called blacklist of Sikhs living abroad, in order to restore their ability to visit Punjab, the controversy surrounding the issue does not seem to halt. The list is a cause of concern for Sikhs as it prevents many from the Sikh diaspora from visiting their families in Punjab.
Lakhwinder Singh Gill, a Canadian citizen, has recently fell victim of the limitations considered to be imposed by list. His father, Atma Singh, expired after years long illness, on 19 June but Lakhwinder was not permitted to attend his father’s funeral.
Lakhwinder, a resident of Village Bharowal in Ludhiana District, left India for the first time in November 1995 for England. In 1999 he shifted to Canada and settled there. He was frequent in visiting India and Punjab from year 2000 to 2008.
“I lasted visited Punjab in July 2008, due to sudden demise of my brother. I was holding a multiple entry visa issued by Indian Embassy at that time” informed Lakhwinder Singh over phone.
“Due to family problem, and taking into account the deteriorating health condition of my father, I decided to return to India in early 2009. But upon my arrival to Rajasansi Airport on 25th January, 2009 I was detained by Indian Immigration authorities, and was quizzed about my the purpose of visit. Next day I was returned back.” he added.
Lakhwinder further explained that he was regular in contacting India’s Home Minister’s office, Ministry of Foreign affairs and India’s Consulate in Canada. “All my humble efforts to convince them that I wanted to visit Punjab to look after my father went in vain. They never gave any reason for denying me the entry nor allowed me to re-visit” he informed.
“State’s Minister for External Affairs Smt. Parneet Kaur had also assured me that the matter would be resolved soon, but I received no relief till date” he added.
On being asked about his past legal record Lakhwinder Singh informed that he was never charged for any sort of illegal or criminal activity throughout his life. “I have stayed in three countries for long periods in my life, and I was never charged for any criminal act, whatsoever, anywhere in the world” added Lakhwinder.
It is worth-notable that Lakhwinder’s name was not on the list sent by the Central Government to the Punjab Government earlier this year. This list was sent of State Government’s review and it was believed that names of all the persons “blacklisted” were on this list. Even at that time the issue was raised by certain Sikh bodies that either the Government had not sent the names of all the persons for State Government’s review or they were keeping a “secret blacklist” to harass Sikhs.
“To our knowledge two persons, Subhneet Kaur of New Zealand and Lakhwinder Singh of Canada, who were denied entry to India and Punjab from Delhi and Amritsar Airports in 2011 and 2009 respectably, were not in the list sent for review” added Parmjeet Singh Gazi, President of Sikh Students Federation. He claimed that it is against the principles of natural justice to adjudicate against a person without giving him information about his alleged fault.
“Sikhs are being deliberately targeted by the Government of India, through these so-called black lists, which has resulted in violation of their collective and individual rights. Denial of entry to Lakhwinder Singh is gross violation of his natural and human rights” he added.
He demanded that Lakhwinder Singh should be permitted to visit Punjab, his birth place, to perform last rites of his father.