LAND RIGHTS: Indo-Canadians struggling to retain their property in India

Published: January 10, 2013
Vikram Bajwa, president of the Indian Overseas Congress, says there are around 1,800 cases of Non-Resident Indians struggling with real estate and property rights issues (Les Bazso / PNG file photo)  (see Kent Spencer story )

Vikram Bajwa, president of the Indian Overseas Congress, says there are around 1,800 cases of Non-Resident Indians struggling with real estate and property rights issues (Les Bazso / PNG file photo)

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVERDESI.COM

Surrey resident Kamaljit Thind has been fighting to maintain the property rights of his land in India for the past two years.

Since Thind moved to Canada in 1991, the value of his agricultural land has “increased so much,” but many repairs are needed.

“[My distant relatives] live over there, they want to occupy that land, [but] they don’t want to give us [rent],” he said. “They always refuse.”

With little help from the government or police, Thind’s brothers travelled to India in an attempt to make the needed repairs to a water pump and get the rent they’re owed.

But Thind is just one of thousands of Non-Resident-Indians struggling with real estate and property rights issues.

According to Vikram Bajwa, Indian Overseas Congress president, more than 1,800 cases like Thind’s — and worse — exist and are backlogged in Punjab court.

“That’s a heavy number,” Bajwa told Vancouver Desi, adding the overall value adds up to about $350 million.

Over the past ten years this has been an increasing trend as NRIs become “new Canadians.”

“Because the population is growing, the land value in Punjab … it has gone tenfold,” said Bajwa.

So either distant relatives or real estate agents who keep watch on vacant land of migrated owners, known as the “land mafia,” seize the property while they’re gone.

Bajwa blames the “corrupt bureaucracy and the corrupt police.”

“Our government in India has failed to protect our properties back there because we live [in Canada],” he said. “Once we go back there we are in a different law. We are foreigners … because we acquired Canadian citizenship.”

“But we are originally from India … we [shouldn’t] be treated as second-class citizens.”

Another “major dilemma” is that the Canadian Embassy in New Delhi doesn’t have a department to handle the real estate aspect of Indo-Canadians in India, said Bajwa — leaving NRIs to go “through this rigamarole” on their own.

So Bajwa wrote a letter on Tuesday asking Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, Jason Kenney, who is currently in India, for help.

“We seek your assistance to take up the matter with Chief Minister S.Parkash Singh Badal … our High Commission in New Delhi, should be instructed to assist the Canadians, who are facing issues, concerning the ‘rights and ownership’ associated with real estate,” he wrote in the letter.

Richard Kurland, a local immigration lawyer, sees a problem with the request, though.

According to Kurland, there’s been an increasing trend in new immigrants failing to claim foreign assets to the CRA.

And Bajwa admits many NRIs are afraid to come forward because of this.

“The value has increased exponentially — that’s a capital gain that must be reported in Canada,” said Kurland.

But regardless of the infraction, Kurland believes the government should still step in.

“Canada still has a diplomatic and political obligation to assist Canadians who apparently are being targeted on the basis of being Canadians,” he said.

“Even if some of these individuals don’t necessarily have clean hands when it comes to disclosure of their status overseas.”

But according to an emailed statement from the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, “property disputes are private legal matters” and property in India — even if owned by Canadians — “is subject to Indian law.”

Bajwa believes with government help, foreign investments will get reported, thus bringing money in to the CRA.

But if the current system remains, it will only continue to “deter people from going back,” said Bajwa. “About eight years ago, you could say, ‘OK, I have my retirement home in India,’ but not anymore because of this.”

lcahute@theprovince.com

twitter.com/larissacahute


Tags: , , , , , , ,





Featured

Pakistan

Pakistani girl gunned down by uncle over loud music

VANCOUVER DESI A 16-year-old girl from Pakistan is dead after she was gunned down by her uncle for refusing to turn down loud music, according…
Continue Reading »

desi hiker

This is the picture a South Asian hiker took of a 135-kg black bear. A few minutes later, it killed him

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS A New Jersey hiker killed by a bear in September took a series of photos of the animal with his cellphone before…
Continue Reading »

Badaun suicide

Indian investigators say two sisters found hanging from a tree were not murdered or gang raped

HINDUSTAN TIMES The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has concluded after a five-month probe that the two teenaged Badaun cousins had committed suicide, putting to…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

domestic violence South Asian Surrey

Alex Sangha: Five step plan to curb domestic violence in the South Asian community

ALEX SANGHA SPECIAL TO VANCOUVER DESI There have been a number of high profile murders in the South Asian community in Surrey over the years. …
Continue Reading »

Surrey crash-desi

Surrey crash victim’s son says deporting parolee would ‘send a message’

TOM ZYTARUK SURREY NOW SURREY — A Surrey man who killed an elderly man when he smashed his brother’s Corvette into a Surrey bus shelter…
Continue Reading »

Islamophobia

Stereotyping is alive and well when it comes to Muslim and Sikh religious symbols in Canada

GORDON MCINTYRE VANCOUVER DESI One-third of British Columbians believe radicalized people live among us, according to a poll commissioned by The Province. The survey of…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

10413566DESI

University confessions Facebook pages can show the hardships of college life in B.C. (w/video)

NICK EAGLAND VANCOUVER DESI “Today I decided that I would start studying for finals,” an anonymous student wrote to the UBC Confessions Facebook page on…
Continue Reading »

terrorism

Dharm Makwana: Presumed guilty until you miss your flight

  DHARM MAKWANA VANCOUVER DESI By the end of the ordeal my wife was on the verge of tears. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection…
Continue Reading »

suffer in silence

Help for Victims of Sexual Abuse

NIRMALA RANIGA VANCOUVER DESI The reasons for not reporting incidents of sexual abuse or harassment are many and varied. Recently, we have addressed some of…
Continue Reading »

cricket-terrorism-Belgium

Pakistani cricketer labeled terrorist for carrying bat on public transport, deported from Belgium

VANCOUVER DESI A young Pakistani cricketer and his family have been forced out of Belgium after he was labeled a terrorist for carrying his cricket…
Continue Reading »

wild pets

Two “snake catchers” arrested in India for illegally keeping venomous pets

VANCOUVER DESI Two men in Southern India who are known as local “snake catchers” have been arrested and thrown in jail for illegally keeping venomous…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Junior Lata-Bollywood-song-music

Video of 11-year-old girl singing Bollywood song ‘Satyam Shivam Sundaram’ goes viral

VANCOUVER DESI A video of a 11-year-old Indian girl singing Lata Mangeshkar’s Bollywood song Satyam Shivam Sundaram has gone viral on social media and drawn…
Continue Reading »

sex video-Pakistan-Bollywood

Bollywood actress Veena Malik and her husband sentenced to 26 years in jail for blasphemy

IANS Dubai – Controversial Bollywood actress Veena Malik has expressed “shock” at a Pakistan court sentencing her and her husband, among others, to 26 years…
Continue Reading »

Desi sex

Bollywood’s Emraan Hashmi says he never refused to work with Canadian pornstar Sunny Leone (w/gallery)

IANS Mumbai – Emraan Hashmi denies that he refused to work with adult film star Sunny Leone for a special song in “Ungli”. In fact,…
Continue Reading »