In recent developments, an investigation conducted by the British tabloid, The Daily Mail, has revealed that a significant number of asylum seekers in the UK are misrepresenting their political affiliations to obtain refugee status. A surge in claims stating persecution due to sympathy with the Khalistan separatist movement has been discovered. However, this seems to be a strategic ploy rather than a reflection of the actual number of Khalistan sympathizers, which remains relatively small.
The Daily Mail’s undercover reporter, posing as an economic migrant from Punjab, India, exposed the dubious practices of certain UK-based law firms. These firms, it was found, were advising immigrants to fabricate tales of persecution as Khalistan supporters, a banned Sikh separatist movement in India, thereby giving them grounds for asylum.
These legal advisors, despite knowing their client lacked a legitimate reason to stay in the UK, concocted distressing backstories for the asylum applications, including allegations of sexual torture, beatings, slave labor, false imprisonment and death threats. One such solicitor, VP Lingajothy, reportedly demanded £10,000 for creating a fictitious narrative of this sort.
In addition, the lawyers promised to secure medical reports to support these false claims and provided antidepressants as ‘evidence’ of psychological trauma. These illicit services come at a cost, ranging from £4,000 to £10,000. The troubling fact is that these legal professionals are encouraging dishonesty, undermining the principles of integrity that are meant to underpin their profession.
Unfortunately, these manipulative tactics are not confined to the UK alone. Investigations have revealed comparable instances in the US and Canada as well.
Law enforcement agencies, disturbed by the attempts to portray India as a police state in false asylum claims, are closely examining the situation. There is concern that these schemes are not only misrepresenting the reality within India, but also fuelling pro-Khalistan sentiments abroad.
For instance, in a report by The Hindu Business Line, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) has been reported to supply letters to individuals looking to migrate to the US and Canada. These letters falsely allege persecution by the Indian government, laying grounds for a claim of political asylum.
Canada, known for its immigrant-friendly policies, has become another hotspot for this exploitative practice. A significant number of individuals falsely claiming to be Khalistani extremists have found a home in the North American country. This has reportedly strained diplomatic relations between India and Canada.
News of Edmonton-based student Karamjit Kaur’s stayed deportation had recently caused a stir, bringing several pertinent questions to the fore. One of them is the troubling misuse of Canada’s immigration laws under the banner of the Khalistan movement. How can authorities permit such exploitation of Canada’s legal structures? Kaur came to Canada five years ago on a student visa and then petitioned the Human Rights Court, claiming support for the Khalistan movement and falsely asserting threats to her life if she returns to India with the help of a lawyer.
Unfortunately, Canada’s inability to curb the radical elements allegedly inciting pro-Khalistan sentiments, with suspected support from Pakistan’s ISI, is exacerbating the situation. The country is inadvertently becoming a hub for pro-Khalistan radicalism, extremism, and violence, despite the fact that the majority of these so-called sympathizers are more focused on personal interests than anything else.
These false claims of Khalistan sympathy for asylum purposes not only corrupt the integrity of the asylum system but also skew the perceived numbers of actual Khalistan supporters. This goes to show that the actual number of Khalistan sympathizers remains relatively small, and a majority of the claims are merely self-serving exploitations of the immigration systems in the UK, US, and Canada.