Relations between India and Canada could take another hit as a retired senior CRPF officer was denied entry at Vancouver airport, partly because immigration authorities deemed him to have served a government that engages in “terrorism, systematic or gross human rights violations, or genocide”.
Tejinder Singh Dhillon, who retired with the rank of inspector general of police from the Central Reserve Police Force in 2010, was declared inadmissible under a subsection of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act last week.
India said on Tuesday that it has taken up the matter with the government of Canada.
In a statement on Tuesday, Canada’s high commissioner to India Nadir Patel said, “We regret any inconvenience that may have been experienced by this individual and their family.”
A document given to Dhillon at the airport had mentioned that he served a government engaged in “terrorism, systematic or gross human rights violations, or genocide, a war crime or a crime against humanity”. This startling condemnation of India was removed in a second report issued by immigration authorities at Vancouver airport. But they still held he could not be granted entry as he had served with the CRPF, which had “committed widespread and systemic human rights abuses, for example torture, arbitrary detention, murder and sexual assault”.
For his part, Canada’s envoy to India noted that Canada welcomes record number of Indians, and with such a large number of applications, “oversights on visa applications can happen which is regrettable.”
The envoy tried to explain the situation, saying, “Form letters in use by the Government of Canada include generic language taken from Canada’s legislation. In this case, the language does not reflect the Government of Canada’s policy toward India or any particular organization, including the Central Reserve Police Force of India.”
Speaking over phone from Ludhiana, Dhillon, who returned after being denied entry, said he had been travelling to Canada for more than 30 years including several times as a serving officer of the CRPF.
He said he had a Canadian visa issued in India that was valid till 2024.
External affairs ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay said earlier on Tuesday that the issue has been taken up with the Canadian government.
“We have seen the news report regarding denial of entry by Canadian authorities to a senior retired Indian Police Officer. Such a characterisation of a reputed force like the CRPF is completely unacceptable. We have taken up the matter with the Government of Canada,” he said.
As he emplaned in Frankfurt for Vancouver after spending some time in Europe with his wife and daughter, the 67-year-old Dhillon never expected such a reception in Canada. “It is very upsetting. I have seen many crises, but this is very difficult to bear,” Dhillon said.
The ordeal began after he and his wife landed and were pulled aside during the initial immigration check.
Dhillon said the officers who interrogated him behaved in an “unreasonable and indecent manner”, accusing him of having either participated or having knowledge of human rights violations by the CRPF.