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UK UK-Halt Sikh Student's Deportation

Chaan Pardesi

Oct 4, 2008
London & Kuala Lumpur
Call to halt Sikh student Mit Singh Chopra’s deportation

Teenager at Westminster college fears a ‘death sentence’ on his return to Afghanistan

Published: 1 October, 2010

A TEENAGE Westminster college student who fled violent persecution by the Taliban fears he faces “a death sentence” if he is deported to Afghanistan.
Mit Singh Chopra, 19, a student from Westminster Kings*way College, came to the UK after being kidnapped and beaten up in Afghanistan because of his Sikh religion.

He said he was taken by extremists from a village in that country and held for eight days and they tried to force him to convert to Islam but he managed to escape.

Sikhs, along with other minority religions, were once able to live relatively peacefully in Afghanistan but over the past three decades there have been reports of violence against them.

Mr Chopra is currently being held at the immigration removal centre in Harmondsworth, near Heathrow , and is expected to be deported in five days’ time.

Pupils and teachers at WKC – which has bases in Victoria, Regent’s Park, Soho and St James’s Park – have mounted an urgent campaign that has included a protest outside the Home Office in Marsham Street near Victoria on Wednesday, attended by about 40 people.

On Tuesday Mr Chopra, who has been praised by his teachers as “gentle, polite and caring”, said he would rather die than be sent back to Afghanistan.

Speaking from his room in Harmondsworth, he said: “Afghanistan is not safe for Sikh people. Why does immigration not understand? Afghanistan is not a Sikh country it is a Muslim country. I came here to save my life. If immigration does not let me stay, just kill me and give my body to my family.”

The UK Border Agency said Sikhs, including Mr Chopra, who came to the UK in December 2007, face no danger in Afghanistan, though it acknowledges reports of discrimination.

In an emotional phone conversation with the West End Extra on Tuesday, Mr Chopra, who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, said the detention centre was “like a prison”.

He said: “It’s too much for me. I just sit in my room and cry.”

Despite arriving in the UK almost three years ago, Mr Chopra’s asylum claim was not heard until last year, when a tribunal judge ruled that he was ineligible to remain in the country. An appeal against this decision was unsuccessful.

Two of Mr Chopra’s brothers are British citizens and a third has indefinite leave to remain in the UK. The whereabouts of his parents is unknown but he has no known family left in Afghanistan.

WKC access support officer Karen Doyle said Mr Chopra, a student of English, was “the nicest person you could imagine meeting”.

A spokeswoman for the *college said: “We recognise that a lot of our students feel strongly about this case and that they want to support one of their fellow students. Unfortunately, it would be inappropriate for the college to get involved directly.

“However, Mit Singh Chopra was a good student with us last year and we are extremely sorry that his studies have been interrupted in this way.”

A UK Border Agency spokesman said: “In this case both the UK Border Agency and the courts have found the applicant is not in need of protection.”

For more details visit www.movementforjustice.org.uk


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