An elderly couple from India is pleading with the federal government to allow them to stay in Canada because they fear for their safety.
Protesters converged in front of the federal immigration refugees and citizenship minister Marc Miller’s Montreal office with a plea on behalf of Rajvinder Kaur and Randhir Singh, an elderly Sikh couple.
“There’s a threat of this family, this couple, being deported this weekend to India,” their lawyer Stewart Istvanffy noted during a press briefing before the demonstration.
The pair, now in their 70s, fled to Canada in 2015 after Singh says he was arrested, beaten and tortured by police.
“Randeer Singh was falsely accused of having links with militants and providing them shelter,” explained Ram Chand, translating for the couple who don’t speak English.
Istvanffy said once in Canada their refugee claim was denied so they’ve applied for permanent residency on humanitarian grounds. While that’s being studied the couple is asking minister Miller for a temporary resident permit, because they fear for their lives if they’re deported Saturday.
“Rajvinder Kaur is saying that the husband will be arrested again, he will be tortured,” explained Chand on behalf of Kaur.
“How much desperate does a situation need to be for a refugee application to be accepted?” Sharone Birapaka of the South Asian Diaspora Action wanted to know.
According to Istvanffy, Singht has post traumatic stress disorder from the alleged torture in 2015, and even tried to commit suicide when his refugee application was denied was denied a few weeks ago.
“Basically he says to people that he’d rather they kill him here or that he kills himself here than go back to India,” the lawyer told reporters.
Those supporting the couple at the protest blame Indian prime minister Narendra Modi and his ruling BJP party for what they say is discrimination against minority groups in India, including Sikhs. In March this year there were protests in Canada and other countries against crackdown on Sikh areas in India, while police searched for an activist.
Monday, protesters outside Miller’s office insist Canada has a duty to protect Singh and Kaur. Miller’s office declined the opportunity to respond citing privacy of the couple’s file.