Man deported for belonging to Sikh separatist group

Published: April 25, 2014

The Babbar Khalsa group was linked to the Air India bombing. (PNG Archive)

KEVEN DREWS
THE CANADIAN PRESS

VANCOUVER — Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board has ordered the deportation of a British man for belonging to a Sikh separatist group that was engaged in terrorism.

Board member Geoff Rempel said in a ruling released Friday that Gurmej Singh Gill was a prominent member of Babbar Khalsa, which was also known as Babbar Khalsa International, and was personally connected to the group’s international leaders, travelled extensively, attended conferences and engaged the media.

Rempel said Gill was likely aware of Babbar Khalsa’s terrorist activities during his tenure with the group, whether or not he supported them.

“It is difficult to believe that Mr. Gill could have been unaware of the terrorist activities perpetrated by the BK/BKI in the 1980s and early 1990s, yet he remained a prominent member of the organization for many years,” said Rempel.

“Even if Mr. Gill was comparatively moderate and did not approve of those tactics himself, he continued to belong to the organization.”

As a result, Gill is inadmissible to Canada under the Immigrations and Refugee Protection Act, ruled Rempel.

Sukhjinder Grewal, Gill’s lawyer, was not immediately available for comment.

When asked if Gill had been deported, the Canada Border Services Agency said it doesn’t speak to individual cases because of privacy laws.

“The decision to remove someone from Canada is not taken lightly,” the agency stated in an email. “The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act states that removal orders must be enforced as soon as possible. The CBSA is firmly committed to doing this.”

Babbar Khalsa has been linked to the 1985 Air India bombing that killed 331 people on two flights that originated in Vancouver, and the Canadian government added it to a list of banned terror groups in 2003.

Gill had argued there were several unconnected Babbar Khalsa groups that used the same name but claimed that the one he belonged to was unaffiliated with the Babbar Khalsa that is considered a terrorist organization.

His son, Navdej Singh Gill, testified at the admissibility hearing that his father did not work with any other Babbar Khalsa groups and never met with them.

A Canadian Security Intelligence Service report cited by Rempel states Babbar Khalsa was created in 1978, and Talwinder Singh Parmar, the alleged mastermind of the Air India plot,  established the Canadian arm in 1979.

The report also treats Babbar Khalsa and Babbar Khalsa International as the same entity and “provides little if any reason to distinguish the two or any factions.”

“BK/BKI chapters around the world seem to have operated mostly in co-operation with each other under the same name and banner, sharing the same religious conservatism and more importantly the same ultimate political objective,” wrote Rempel.

“There is sufficient evidence before me to establish reasonable grounds that the BK/BKI is a distinct organization, although loosely structured.”

The ruling states Gill became a member of the group in 1978 but left after moving to Canada in 1982 “because he did not agree with Talwinder Singh Parmar.”

Parmar, who was killed by police in India in 1992, was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in the Air India bombing trial and was considered the mastermind of the plot.

Ajaib Singh Bagri and Ripudaman Singh Malik were later acquitted in the twin bombings by a B.C. Supreme Court judge in 2005.

Gill became a permanent resident of Canada in 1982 but the ruling states he surrendered the status in 1984.

He was stopped by border officials at Vancouver International Airport in November 2013 and ordered to appear before the Immigration and Refuge Board.

Under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, Gill can apply to Federal Court for a judicial review of the decision.

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