Retired CRPF officer back in Canada after being denied entry
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Retired CRPF officer back in Canada after being denied entry

Less than a week after he was barred from entering Canada, retired senior CRPF officer Tejinder Singh Dhillon flew back to Toronto with a ticket provided by the Canadian high commission.

world Updated: May 26, 2017 23:05 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Hindustan Times, Toronto
India-Canada relations,CRPF officer denied entry to Canada,Tejinder Singh Dhillon
Retired CRPF officer Tejinder Singh Dhillon on his arrival at Toronto airport on Thursday, with wife Sukhprem and sister Pawan.(HT Photo)

Six days after being denied entry into Canada, retired senior Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) officer Tejinder Singh Dhillon arrived at Toronto’s Lester B Pearson airport to a very different reception.

“It was very smooth; I didn’t have any problem,” he told the Hindustan Times.

Dhillon, who retired in 2010 after serving as director of the Central Reserve Police Academy in Kadarpur, Gurgaon, had to undergo an ordeal lasting nearly 24 hours at Vancouver airport last week as immigration officials accused him of working for the paramilitary force which “committed widespread and systemic human rights abuses“ such as torture, arbitrary detention, murder and sexual assault.

His Canadian visa, valid till 2024, was cancelled and the 67-year-old summarily sent back to India.

The incident, coming close on the heels of the Ontario assembly becoming Canada’s first legislature to pass a motion that described the 1984 anti-Sikh riots as “genocide”, hit bilateral ties. The external affairs ministry took up the matter with Canada and Canadian envoy Nadir Patel later apologised.

Dhillon’s arrival on Thursday was different as he was greeted at Toronto airport by family members and he looked forward to attending his niece’s wedding. He was thankful to officials at Canada’s high commission in New Delhi, who not only quickly issued a fresh multi-year visa but also “compensated” him by providing him an air ticket for this trip.

Dhillon said a senior Canadian official told him they were “keen to maintain healthy relations with India” as he visited the Canadian mission prior to his departure. Canada’s Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship department also expressed regret over the incident.

In an email to the Hindustan Times, a spokesperson said, “Canada values our relationship with India, based on shared values of democracy, pluralism, human rights and rule of law.”

Family members received Dhillon at Toronto airport and reunited with him in the suburban Greater Toronto Area residence where his brother lives. They were relieved he had finally made it in time for the wedding.

“Everybody was so upset when he had to return from Vancouver. Now, we are thrilled he has returned,” his brother Narinder Singh, the father of the bride, said.

That view was echoed by his sister Pawanjit Kaur: “The whole family was shaken up and now the whole family is happy. I have no words to explain how we feel.”

Not everyone, though, was glad Dhillon had returned to Canada. Gurpatwant Pannun, legal advisor to the hardline activist group Sikhs for Justice, said, “It's unfortunate that the Trudeau government succumbed before the economic pressure by Indian regime."

He condemned Ottawa for “trading Canadian values with blood money”.

However, for the Dhillons, a week of stress culminated with the celebration of a wedding, with Tejinder Singh Dhillon, the eldest member of the family, taking his place as the head of the function.

First Published: May 26, 2017 16:03 IST