After a retired CRPF officer was denied entry into Canada, the government lodged a strong protest with the Canadian government forcing the latter to express regret for the inconvenience caused to the officer.
The retired CRPF IGP was turned away for having worked with a force which “committed widespread and systemic human rights abuses”.
After the protest, Canada made amends for the “unacceptable” act as its high commissioner Nadir Patel issued a statement late in the evening expressing regret for the inconvenience caused and also declaring that CRPF played an important role in upholding law and order in India.
After he landed at the Vancouver airport, Tejinder Singh Dhillon, a retired IGP with CRPF, was told by Canadian immigration authorities that he could not enter the country as he had been part of a force which indulged in terrorism and genocide.
Patel said though that from time to time, with such a large number of applications, oversights on visa applications can happen which is regrettable. “In situations where established procedures may not have been followed, a review takes place to avoid any reoccurrence,” he said, adding that Canada valued its relationship with India, based on shared values of democracy, pluralism, human rights and rule of law.
In its protest, the government had said that such characterisation of a reputed force like CRPF was completely unacceptable.
“We have taken up the matter with the government of Canada,” said MEA spokesperson Gopal Baglay.
According to agency reports, Dhillon, who had retired six years ago, was declared inadmissible under a subsection of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
According to media reports from Canada, Dhillon was first handed over a document which actually said he was a “prescribed senior official in the service of a government that, in the opinion of the Minister, engages or has engaged in terrorism, systematic or gross human rights violations, or genocide, a war crime or a crime against humanity”. While these uncharitable references to India were removed later, Dhillon was still not granted entry because of his past association with CRPF, forcing him to return to Ludhiana.
Patel said in his reaction that form letters in use by the Government of Canada included generic language taken from Canada’s legislation and that it did not reflect Canada’s policy toward India or any particular organization, including the Central Reserve Police Force of India
Dhillon was accused of not having done anything to distance himself from CRPF despite knowing that the force was involved in crimes like torture, sexual assault and murder. Dhillon has visited Canada on several occasions in the past, including as a CRPF officer.
“I’ve been travelling to Canada for 30 years but this is the first time I faced such insult and humiliation,” Dhillon was quoted as having told a news channel. Dhillon was accompanied by his wife when he was turned away.
This is not the first time though that Canada has done something like this. In the past too, it has repeatedly denied visas to serving and former officials of armed forces, leading home ministry in 2010 to threaten retaliatory measures.
The same year it denied visa to a former IB official, S S Sidhu, saying it could not allow those employed with organisations involved in human rights violations to visit the country.
Canada says that it can’t give visas to those engaged in terrorism or act of espionage, or those who are seen as a danger to the security of Canada and its people. While denying them visas, Canada has accused Indian officials in the past of having been a member of an organisation that engaged in terrorism, espionage or subversive activities.