TWO MLAs of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) were Sunday denied entry into Canada and sent back to India shortly after they landed in the country on a private visit.
Kotkapura MLA Kultar Singh Sandhwan and Ropar MLA Amarjit Singh Sandoa were reportedly detained and questioned by Canadian immigration officials regarding the purpose of their visit. While initial reports said they were detained at around 9 am IST, it was learnt later that they had been put on an Air Canada flight to Delhi.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Sudeep Singla, AAP spokesperson in Toronto, confirmed that the MLAs were “sent back” after questioning. “What we have learnt is that both were to stay with the sister of Kultar Singh Sandhwan in Ottawa and she was waiting to receive them. However, after hours of questioning, she was informed that both were being sent back.”
Singla said the exact circumstances could only be known after speaking to the MLAs. “We tried to speak to Canadian authorities but could not,” he said.
Kamal Garg, AAP social media manager based in Vancouver, said it was incorrect to say that the MLAs had been deported. “Deportation is a wrong term. The two have been denied entry into Canada. I have learnt that while Sandhwan was able to satisfy Canadian authorities on the purpose of his visit, Sandoa could not because he is not fluent in English,” said Garg.
State co-president of AAP Dr Balbir Singh said he was not aware of the two MLAs being sent back. He said both had taken permission from the party before leaving for Canada on a private visit. “We will only find out what happened after they get back,” he said. Leader of Opposition, Sukhpal Singh Khaira, said he had called a meeting of all MLAs on Tuesday to discuss the development along with other party issues.
A senior AAP leader said it was possible that one of the MLAs said something about political meetings while speaking to Canadian authorities.
Ropar MLA Sandoa, who was recently in news when he alleged that he was attacked by sand mining mafia, is facing allegations of molestation by a woman and a court framed charges against him last Friday, just a day before he left for Canada. It is not known if this may have been held against him by the Canadian authorities. The other MLA does not have any criminal case pending against him.
The Congress government in Punjab has accused state AAP leadership of being ‘close’ to separatist Sikh outfits overseas, most of them being pro-Khalistani organisations based in North America. In June, Khaira faced flak over his remarks on ‘Referendum 2020’, a campaign launched by US-based organisation Sikhs for Justice.