Man admits he lied about link to Babbar Khalsa group
Failed refugee also faked religious beliefs to sway immigration board
Published: Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Failed refugee Baljit Ram says he lied about being a member of the Babbar Khalsa terrorist group to persuade Canadian authorities to let him stay in the country.
In fact, Ram told The Vancouver Sun Monday that he is not even a Sikh, but claimed to be one in order to have a compelling yarn for the Immigration and Refugee Board when he arrived in Canada illegally in 1998.
“I am Hindu,” said Ram, who had been living underground for eight years until he was stabbed near the Surrey Central SkyTrain station Sept. 30.
“First time I come, I lie and say I was Babbar Khalsa member.”
Ram said he was advised by friends to pretend to be with the Sikh militant group that had been fighting for Khalistan so he could prove persecution and be accepted as a refugee.
“I wanted to stay here so I lied. Everybody who comes here, first day, everybody lie [and] say Babbar Khalsa party member or other story like this,” Ram said in broken English. “I don't know Babbar Khalsa. I know nothing.”
After the 42-year-old surfaced because of the stabbing, police found an online warrant for his arrest.
The warrant was issued by the Canada Border Services Agency just this past January, even though Ram had not reported for his deportation back in 2000.
The warrant request document states that Ram was identified as Babbar Khalsa, a group banned in Canada in 2003. Ram was then interviewed at Royal Columbian hospital by a CBSA official, who did not say anything in his notes about Ram changing his story.
Asked if he told the CBSA agent he was originally lying, Ram said the man never asked during the meeting.
“There in the hospital, he never ask me there, 'Oh, are you terrorist?' Nothing,” Ram said, adding that he believes he should now be allowed to stay in Canada.
“If I go to India, I have problems. Police there [might] say, 'Hey you were lying there. Maybe you are a Babbar Khalsa member,'” Ram said. “Maybe [the] Babbar Khalsa party give me problem.”
Ram made the rounds of Punjabi language stations Monday, saying news reports in The Vancouver Sun quoting government documents linking him to the Babbar Khalsa are wrong.
He told The Sun he has not worked in the decade he has been in Canada, but lives on handouts from friends. He told the CBSA agent Sept. 30 that he had been paid by Surrey's Guru Nanak Sikh temple, something temple president Balwant Singh Gill adamantly denied.
Not only did Ram originally claim he was in the Babbar Khalsa, he reiterated that position when he sought a judicial review of the refugee board decision to the Federal Court of Canada in 2000, according to court files obtained from Ottawa Monday.
“The panel also had clear evidence that the applicant was involved in Babbar Khalsa and was arrested twice,” Ram's Calgary lawyer Dalwinder Singh Hayer argued.
Hayer also said in court documents that Ram is definitely Sikh, despite the refugee board's ruling that Ram had Hindu tattoos.
“The applicant explained very clearly that he belongs to a sub-caste and is poorly educated,” Hayer wrote. “It is respectfully submitted that the panel had no evidence that these two tattoos are of the Hindu faith.”
The Federal Court ruled against Ram in October 2000.
In an interview from Calgary Monday, Hayer said he could not remember the case, but would review his files. He said he was surprised to learn Ram was now refuting what he had originally claimed in his refugee case.
The original IRB ruling on Ram was attached to the Federal Court file.
IRB members Anna Terrana and Paulah Dauns said in the May 8, 2000, decision that Ram lacked credibility and they doubted he was a Sikh or in the Babbar Khalsa party.
“The claimant's only notion of the Party is that they wanted to create a separate Khalistan and were prepared to kill in order to achieve their goal,” the ruling said, pointing out that the Babbar Khalsa is “believed responsible for bombing Air-India flight from Montreal to India, killing 329. The claimant said he never heard about the bombing of the Air India airplane.”
ONLINE: Read Kim Bolan's blog, The Real Scoop, at vancouversun.com/blogs