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HindustanTimes Fri,29 Aug 2014

Canadian minister faces protest from visa applicants

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  Amritsar, January 11, 2013
First Published: 20:28 IST(11/1/2013) | Last Updated: 20:30 IST(11/1/2013)

Expressing their anger against the Canadian government for delaying their visas, a crowd of 40-50 men and women greeted Canadian minister for citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism Jason Kenney with a protest here on Friday.

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They claimed that the Canadian government had cheated and mentally harassed them by keeping them waiting for visas and work permits for eight years and then all of a sudden deciding to send back their visa applications.

The protesters, under the banner of the Canadian Backloggers Pre-2008 Association, demanded that instead of returning their applications, the Canadian High Commission in New Delhi should be asked to process their cases. Holding placards, they demanded legitimate entry into Canada and not the processing fee they had deposited with the Canadian consulate general.

The protest was organised outside Jallianwala Bagh as the Canadian minister drove down to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple. Even as the minister's cavalcade headed back to the hotel, the protesters, led by association president Rakesh Kumar Garg, demanded an audience with the minister.

Talking to the media, Garg said that just prior to 2008, the Canadian government had invited skilled workers and a larger number of Indians had applied for the jobs. The Canadian government appointed agents all over the world for collecting applications and processing fee, he said.

"Till date, not a single Indian who had applied under the skilled workers' category has got a Canadian visa. The applicants from India feel that they have been discriminated against by the Canadian immigration authorities because they have been made to wait longer than applicants from any other country. Now the Canadian authorities have all of a sudden decided to return the applications and files of the applicants," claimed Garg, calling the action "inhuman".

Garg said that many of the members of the association had even filed applications in Canadian courts against the government's decision to reject their cases for visa. He said they want their cases to be processed so that they can get legitimate entry into Canada. "If this is not possible, the Canadian government should pay suitable compensation to each and every applicant for disturbing their mental peace," he said.

Majithia also takes up case
Punjab revenue, public relations and NRI affairs minister Bikram Singh Majithia also took up the backlog case with Kenney and pointed out that for the past eight years, a large number of applicants had gone through a lot of mental agony. He appealed to the minister to reconsider their cases and take a decision as per the immigration rules of his country.

'Decision taken to streamline visa system'
Kenney, when questioned about the backlog, said, "We have decided to send back all the applications as well as repay the processing and other fee to the applicants. We have now asked for fresh applications. This decision was taken to streamline the entire visa system as the huge backlog of applicants in India and other countries had created a total mess. We were left with no other option but to send back all pending applications. Now we hope everything will move in a smooth manner."

'Beheading of Indian soldier outrageous'
Kenney described as "unfortunate" the beheading of an Indian soldier by Pakistani security forces. Asked about the incident at a press conference here on Friday, the minister said, "If these reports are true, it is an unfortunate and an outrageous incident. Pakistan must go into the case in depth and find out the persons behind it. Jammu and Kashmir is a sensitive issue and such incidents should be avoided."

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