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Sikh group slams Canada's rule

A Sikh group slams Canadian immigration policy that forces Sikhs with the surname Singh or Kaur to change their last names.

world Updated: Jul 25, 2007 11:56 IST

A Sikh group has slammed the long-standing Canadian immigration policy that forces Sikhs with the surname Singh or Kaur to change their last names if they want to migrate to the country.

The criticism came after an Indian Canadian Sikh woman, Tarvinder Kaur, who is pregnant, said her husband Jaspal Singh's application to become a permanent resident has been delayed because of his last name.

"He has no choice but to legally change his name in India so he can be with me before I give birth next month," she said.

Jasbeer Singh, of the World Sikh Organisation, said the policy is incredibly out of sync in this day and age, CBC news reported.

"The reason we should be concerned is this is a very sneaky attack on our individual rights and freedoms and persona," Singh said. "Today they are challenging or don't like Singh or Kaur. Tomorrow they will not like Mohammed. And how soon will it be before they are asking all Browns and Smiths to change their names?"

Singh and Kaur are common names in the Sikh community. The name Singh is given to every baptised Sikh boy and Kaur to every baptised Sikh girl. There are millions of Singhs and Kaurs around the world.

The Canadian citizenship and immigration department said the policy to ask people to provide a third name has been around for 10 years.

Karen Shadd-Evelyn, a spokeswoman with citizenship and immigration department said the reason for the policy is that it helps officials with the paperwork and allows them to identify people's files quickly, efficiently and accurately.

"You can imagine you wouldn't want your file to be confused with someone else's," she said.