Terrorist ordered deported claims temple supported him, documents say
Published: Friday, November 07, 2008
METRO VANCOUVER – A Sikh terrorist living in Surrey despite an eight-year-old deportation order claims he has survived all this time on payments from people at the Guru Nanak Sikh temple, according to documents obtained by the The Vancouver Sun.
Forty-two-year-old Baljit Ram, identified as a Babbar Khalsa member, went underground for almost a decade and only came to the attention of the Canada Border Services Agency when he was stabbed near Surrey Central SkyTrain on Sept. 30.
Border services enforcement officer Joe Carlson interviewed Ram at Royal Columbian Hospital where he was taken for treatment, the documents say.
Ram told Carlson that “he worked at the temple in Surrey at 72nd and Scott Road,” one report says. “He said he got money from people at the temple when he did volunteer work.”
But temple president Balwant Singh Gill said Ram's claim is fictitious.
“He is lying. I have never seen him around. I don't even know who this guy is,” Gill said Friday. “No volunteer person at the temple gets paid money. We don't give money to anyone like that.”
Gill said he was shocked that someone linked to a banned terrorist group is claiming to attend the moderate temple, which has taken a strong stance against militancy.
In fact, the temple will host a memorial service Sunday to mark the 10th anniversary of the assassination of journalist Tara Singh Hayer, gunned down after writing critically against the Babbar Khalsa.
Gill also said he was surprised to learn that an Immigration and Refugee Board decided to release Ram again on a $5,000 bond, given the man had failed to show up for his deportation back in 2000.
Gill said many in the Sikh community are talking about Ram's case, revealed in The Sun on Thursday.
The new documents obtained Thursday say Ram arrived at Vancouver International Airport on May 3, 1998, “and was issued a departure order.”
“Ram subsequently made a refugee claim which was found to be not credible. As well Ram was identified as a member of the Babbar Khalsa (War Crimes case,)” one document says.
While Ram failed to report for deportation more than eight years ago and did not tell Canadian officials where he was, an arrest warrant for him was not issued until February 2008.
“Since receiving the not credible decision from the IRB in May 2000, there has been no contact or information on Ram. Checks of all regular indices have proved negative,” the warrant request says, with x's marked in boxes suggesting searches were done of databases of the Motor Vehicle Branch, Telus, welfare and police.
“I am requesting issuance of this warrant to assist in the location and detention of Ram so that his CBSA file may proceed as normal.”
Surrey RCMP accessed the warrant online after investigators were called out to Ram's stabbing.
Carlson then went to the hospital to formally arrest Ram and interview him.
“Subject says he only worked at the temple. He told me that he has not left Canada since he arrived,” Carlson wrote.
“He told me he has not been in contact with Immigration for years and years. He remembers his hearing in 1998, but has not seen Immigration since. I told him there was a warrant for his arrest for removal and told him that I was arresting him.”
Carlson said Ram was in okay “spirits during the interview in spite of the wounds and IVs in his arms.”
“Subject had been stabbed several times and was bleeding from his left upper arm, right leg and shoulder,” he said.
The Babbar Khalsa was banned as a terrorist group in Canada in June 2003. In March 2005, a judge found the B.C. branch of the terrorist group had plotted the 1985 Air India bombing that left 329 dead.
CBSA media officer Shakila Manzoor said Thursday she could not say what the normal time frame would be before an arrest warrant was issued for someone who failed to show up for deportation.
She said it is the Immigration and Refugee Board that makes the final determination about whether someone will be held in custody, not the CBSA. But she also refused to comment specifically on Ram's case because of privacy laws.