Punjab to extend legal aid to students facing deportation in Canada
Authorities in Canada have found nearly 700 Indian students, using fake “admission offer letters” to educational institutions to enter the country.
Punjab minister Kuldeep Singh Dhaliwal on Thursday said the state government will provide free legal assistance to nearly 700 Indian students who are facing deportation from Canada having fallen prey to fake college admission letters offered by fraudulent consultants in India.
Dhaliwal, the state’s minister for NRI affairs, said he has written to all Punjab-origin Canadian lawmakers to intervene in the issue of these students in order to secure their future.
“Most of these students belong to Punjab and they will be assisted by lawyers who are experts in immigration laws in Canada,” Dhaliwal told reporters after chairing a meeting with officials of his department in Chandigarh.
The minister issued instructions to all deputy commissioners and senior superintendents of police (SSPs) to scrutinise documents of travel agents/immigration consultants in the state and file a report by July 10. He expressed concern that many such agents and consultants were running “illegal” immigration agencies.
Authorities in Canada have found nearly 700 Indian students, mostly from Punjab, using fake “admission offer letters” to educational institutions to enter the country. Some of these students applied for permanent residency in Canada in March this year, after which the matter came to light. The students have claimed that they were duped by fraudulent education consultants in India.
On Thursday, external affairs minister S Jaishankar also stressed that these students should not be penalised for someone else’s crime.
“If there were people, who misled them (the students), the culpable parties should be acted upon. It is unfair to punish a student who undertook education in good faith,” he said at a press conference. “For some time now, there is this case of students, who the Canadians say did not study in the college in which they should have, and when they applied for a work permit, they got into difficulties.”
Jaishankar, who was speaking on “nine years of Modi government” in New Delhi, said Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also made a statement on the issue in the House of Commons. “We are in touch with Canada on the issue,” he added.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Canadian prime minister said that his government was focused on “identifying the culprits, not penalising the victims”.
“We are deeply aware of cases of international students facing removal orders over fraudulent college acceptance letters,” Trudeau said in Parliament, responding to a question by Jagmeet Singh, an Indian-origin MP, on the fate of the Indian students. “…Victims of fraud will have an opportunity to demonstrate their situations and present evidence to support their cases.”
Meanwhile, a committee of the House of Commons has unanimously passed a motion to urge the country’s border services agency to stop the deportation of nearly 700 Indian students.
(With agency inputs)