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Paralysed Sikh ducks deportation

world Updated: Jul 10, 2007 12:27 IST

IANS
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A paralysed Sikh, who entered Canada with a fake passport four years ago, has ducked deportation to India and sought asylum in a gurdwara.

Laibar Singh, 48, was scheduled to be deported on Sunday. However, with the help of friends and community members, he took refuge in a gurdwara in Lower Midland, reported canada.com.

Singh fled to Canada in 2003, saying he had been falsely accused of links with a Sikh militant group in India, the Khalistan Commando Force.

Since then his applications for refugee status, including an exemption on humanitarian and compassionate grounds, have failed.

Singh said that despite his health concerns, he feels safe and secure at the gurdwara.

"I don't want to go to India. Why should I go to India?" Singh told the media, with the help of a translator.

"I will die, certainly I will die. I want to stay in Canada. I want to stay in the Sikh temple," Singh said. "They serve me day and night. They are helping me and I am getting very good service from them. They will look after me."

Many members of British Columbia's Sikh community have championed Singh's case. They say it's cruel to deport a disabled man to India, where the level of his care is uncertain.

Harsha Walia, a spokeswoman for the refugee rights group, "No one is Illegal", said she was worried about Singh's health now that he was out of hospital.

"He needs imminent medical care," Walia said.

She said that Singh, who is not expected to recover from his condition, faced difficult options - deportation or sanctuary in a temple - neither of which satisfied his urgent health needs.

"Really, the only way to get him the best care is if his deportation is stayed and he gets appropriate care," Walia added.

Harpal Singh Nagra, a spokesman for the South Asian Human Rights Group, said members of the Sikh community were working with the gurdwara to help with Singh's medical care, including the expenses.

"This is a community responsibility now," Nagra said, adding the gurdwara is already consulting medical experts. "We will look after him. We will try."

A widower, Singh has two daughters, aged 20 and 13, and a son, 16, all in India.