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Canada Reviewing Former BSF Officer's Case

Jan 6, 2005
Metro-Vancouver, B.C., Canada
Canada reviewing former BSF officer's case

22 May 2010, 0055 hrs IST,IANS

NEW DELHI: Canada is "reviewing" the rejection of visa to a former Border Security Force (BSF) constable after the decision sparked off a diplomatic row, A Canadian official told IANS Saturday.

The Canadian High Commission rejected in December a visa request from retired BSF constable Fateh Singh Pandher, accusing the paramilitary force of "war crimes" and being a "notoriously violent force".

Pandher had wanted to shift to Canada to join his daughter who lives there.

In comments that sought to distance the Canadian government from the visa rejection, Catherine Loubier, a spokesperson for Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, said decisions on visa applications were usually taken by individual officials.

"Decisions on visa applications are made by public servants following an independent process governed by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act," Loubier said in a statement mailed to IANS.

"We are reviewing the situation. Due to privacy reasons we cannot comment further," Loubier added.

She stressed that Canada had "great respect for India's armed forces and related institutions".

She mentioned the strong ties and friendship between Canada and India, which she described as a "country with growing influence on the global stage".

Loubier mentioned the commonality of democratic values between the two countries, and said Canada had the "highest regard for India's democratic institutions and processes".

She also referred to Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's "very successful visit" in 2009. "One of our greatest strengths is the vibrant people-to-people connections between Canada and India," said Loubier.

Last year, Pandher, living in Siar village, 25 km from Ludhiana, sought an immigration visa. It was rejected, with a Canadian diplomat describing the BSF as a "notoriously violent paramilitary unit" which is "responsible for war crimes in India".

A communication sent to Pandher accused him of not only working with "a unit engaged in systematic attacks on civilians" but of not providing any evidence in his visa application "dissociating" himself from the force.

The BSF is responsible for guarding India's borders. But it is often deployed for internal security duty across the country, including in Jammu and Kashmir.

Though the visa rejection took place late last year, it came to the notice of the Indian home ministry only recently.

The ministry took up the matter with the external affairs ministry, which took it up with Canada.





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