CORRUPTION: NRI Canadian citizens falling victim to ‘land mafia’

Published: January 10, 2013

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI

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 (and) 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 traveled 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.

India Overseas Congress president is demanding the Canadian government help NRI Canadian citizens with their property rights. Photo by: Les Bazso, PNG

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 ten fold,” 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 the Canadian Embassy in New Delhi doesn’t have a department to handle the real estate aspect of IndoCanadians 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.

Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney. Photo by CP.

“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.

Local immigration lawyer, Richard Kurland, sees one 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 admit 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.”

But 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 (to their homeland),” 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

ADOPTION INDIA

India’s ‘shameful’ adoption record

With 30 million orphans, just 2,500 adoptions took place in India in 2014 RAMA LAKSHMI WASHINGTON POST When Shreya Roy applied to adopt an orphan…
Continue Reading »

allergy-death-manslaughter

Restaurateur faces manslaughter charge after customer died of peanut allergy

IANS London – An Indian restaurant owner in Britain has been charged with manslaughter following the death of a customer after eating curry prepared at…
Continue Reading »

ferocious pets

Exotic Pets: African lioness kept as pet in central Pakistan gives birth to litter of 5 cubs

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS MULTAN, Pakistan — It’s a baby boom for the owner of a pet lioness in central Pakistan. The African lioness named Queen…
Continue Reading »

LOCAL NEWS

Vancouver car sales

Planning to buy a new car? Check out what’s on offer at Like It Buy It Vancouver

POSTMEDIA NEWS Act fast to buy your dream car at a discount. A rare new Roush RS3 race car is on sale now for 25…
Continue Reading »

Vancouver Yoga Fashion

Lululemon sees surge in fourth-quarter sales

MICHELLE MCQUIGGE THE CANADIAN PRESS Strong North American sales helped drive fourth-quarter results at Lululemon Athletica Inc., but the Vancouver-based retailer says its hopes for…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood

Canadian YouTube sensation Superwoman meets Bollywood’s ‘Dilwale’

IANS Mumbai – Indo-Canadian YouTube sensation Lilly Singh, famously known as Superwoman, met filmmaker Rohit Shetty and actor Varun Dhawan on the set of their…
Continue Reading »

Don't Miss...

Vancouver car sales

Planning to buy a new car? Check out what’s on offer at Like It Buy It Vancouver

POSTMEDIA NEWS Act fast to buy your dream car at a discount. A rare new Roush RS3 race car is on sale now for 25…
Continue Reading »

India-Vancouver Desi

Justin Bieber’s roast on Indian TV on Fools’ Day

IANS New Delhi – Singer Justin Bieber’s infamous ‘roast’, hosted by Kevin Hart, will hit Indian television on April 1, just months after the controversial…
Continue Reading »

messy custody battle-desi lingerie model

Jeremy Renner’s messy divorce from B.C. model gets messier as custody battle rages

VANCOUVER DESI A B.C. woman who was married to Hollywood actor Jeremy Renner is being accused of being a gold digger and blackmailer who has…
Continue Reading »

India-Canada-Vancouver Desi

Indian PM Narendra Modi to visit Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa in April

VANCOUVER DESI Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is coming to Canada in April, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Wednesday. Modi will be visiting Toronto, Ottawa…
Continue Reading »

India marriage-abuse-prostitution-poverty

Indian child bride became a mother of three at age 14, was forced into prostitution by husband, then abondoned

HINDUSTAN TIMES She was barely 10 when her parents sold her off, became a mother of three by the age of 14 and was abandoned…
Continue Reading »


Bollywood Latest

Bollywood bride

Bollywood actress Anushka Sharma becomes a bride, not for Kohli but 7Up

IANS New Delhi – “Band Baaja Baaraat” actress Anushka Sharma, who was spotted at the India-Australia cricket match in Sydney on Thursday, had decked up…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood-Cricket

Bollywood filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma’s cricket bomb: I am sooooo happyyy India lost

HINDUSTAN TIMES We have an advice for filmmaker Ram Gopal Varma and it’s a simple one: Think before you tweet. Hot on the heels on…
Continue Reading »

Bollywood actor Salman Khan

Bollywood actor Salman Khan’s statement to be recorded in hit-and-run case

IANS Mumbai – Bollywood mega star Salman Khan will step into the witness box on Friday to record his statement on the 13-year-old hit-and-run case…
Continue Reading »