January 28, 2010 | By Jagmohan Singh
New Delhi (January 28, 2010): In what may come as a shocker to the Sikh Nation and an embarrassment to the Canadian government, which two days ago deported Parminder Singh Saini, after a 15 year peaceful stay in Canada; the Indian authorities have detained him in Tihar prison in Delhi. Till last reports were received, it is not clear under what law he has been sent to prison, though it is being suspected that he has been detained under the preventive legislation, National Security Act. So far he had no access to legal assistance.
Voices for Freedom, in a statement to the media has expressed anguish at the speed with which Canadian authorities deported Parminder Singh and shock at the slamming of NSA charges against him by the government of India. Ranjit Singh of VFF has said that, “Apparently, the government of India has no case against the 46 year old, former activist of the All India Sikh Students Federation. We hope that the legal machinery in India is aware of the legal concept of double jeopardy, under which, no person can be punished twice for the same offence and this has been upheld by Indian courts too.” Voices for Freedom has sought his immediate release and a full stop at his vilification.
Parminder Singh Saini alongwith others had hijacked an Indian Airlines Srinagar-New Delhi flight on July 5, 1984, barely a month after the attack on Darbar Sahib, Amritsar in June that year. They were arrested by the Pakistani authorities, sentenced to death, which was commuted to life and after serving more than ten years in prison, were released to go “anywhere.”
Fearing for his life in India and acutely fearful of harassment and death at the hands of the India authorities, Parminder Singh fled to Canada under an assumed name. While in Canada, he amply demonstrated his intentions to lead a peaceful life by studying for his graduation studies and then pursuing and completing his law studies as well. However, his plea to practice was repeatedly turned down and in view of his persistence with the plea, he was designated ‘dangerous’ and deported.
While the conditions for deportation under which Canada sent back Parminder Singh Saini are still not know, it is clear that the move of the government of India to foist preventive detention law of NSA, whereby all of India’s interrogation authorities will be given the liberty to humiliate, harass and investigate him within the four walls of the high security Tihar prison in Delhi.
Former President of Dal Khalsa, Satnam Singh Paonta Sahib, himself a hijacker, who like Parminder Singh completed his sentence and who was let off within one day of his arrival in India said, “The principle of non-refoulement is well established in customary international law, prohibiting states from expelling, deporting or extraditing persons to countries where they face torture or ill-treatment. Non-refoulement is a fundamental rule of refugee law and several human rights instruments forbid the return of a person who has reason to fear for his/her life or physical integrity in his/her country of origin. If Canada has made a big mistake, India must immediately release Parminder Singh Harfanmaullah.”
Another hijacker, Tejinder Pal Singh, who too was deported from Canada in December 1997 from Surrey told World Sikh News that, “India should refrain from harassing people who have suffered in prison for years and who have live away from family and friends for decades together.” Tejinder Pal Singh, who now leads a miserly life in Punjab said that the government of Canada has committed a major blunder again by deporting Parminder Singh to India. He said that during his stay in Vancouver, he voluteered for Amnesty International, UNICEF and the Surrey Children’s Hospital, oranised blood donations and did humanitarian work, but the Canadian government did not give him an opportunity to start a life afresh. He said, “Parminder Singh led a very peaceful life, educated himself, did not take part in any political activity and was a good citizen, should have been set free.” Tejinder Pal Singh feared that like him, Parminder Singh too would continue to be harassed and humilitated for the rest of his life.
Parminder Singh Saini’s deportation has definitely put the human rights lobby thinking about, “What should a person who is afraid from entering the country of his birth for reasons of fear do, if the country where he has landed refuses to grant him citizenship or stay status? What is the meaning of “stateless person status for such a person? In the post 9/11 world, can the UN or any other world agency play any role? After all, Saini proved his mettle of being a peaceful citizen for 15 years and underwent imprisonment for more than 10 years –is there no reform after all that or are countries always in retribution mode?
Author, Jagmohan Singh, is the editor of World Sikh News. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Courtesy: World Sikh News (WSN).
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