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Member of Sikh terrorist group linked to Air India bombing to be deported

Karamjit Rai, left, and Manjit Bhatti pause to remember Rai's brother and Bhatti's brother-in-law, Daljit Singh Grewal who died, during a memorial marking the 25th anniversary of the Air India bombing at a monument in Vancouver, B.C., on June 23, 2010.

DARRYL DYCK/THE CANADIAN PRESS

A man who admitted he once led the British arm of a terrorist organization banned in Canada has been ruled inadmissible to this country, with the Immigration and Refugee Board saying he had to have known the Babbar Khalsa used violence in its quest for an independent Sikh state.

The board, in a ruling released to the public Friday, issued a deportation order against Gurmej Singh Gill. His case was referred to the board in November when he arrived in British Columbia for a visit. Two of his children live in this province.

Mr. Gill, 71, had told the board he never advocated for violence. He said the Babbar Khalsa in Britain was different from Babbar Khalsa International or groups in other countries, such as Canada.

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But adjudicator Geoff Rempel, in his ruling, said the groups were one in the same, leaving Mr. Gill inadmissible to Canada because he was a member of an organization that there are reasonable grounds to believe engaged in terrorism. The Babbar Khalsa has been linked to the Air India bombings that killed 331 people in June, 1985.

"I find it likely that Mr. Gill was aware of the BK/BKI's terrorist actions during his tenure with the organization, whether or not he approved of them," Mr. Rempel wrote.

He said Mr. Gill was a prominent member of the group and had personal connections to other leaders.

"It is difficult to believe that Mr. Gill could have been unaware of the terrorist activities perpetrated by the BK/BKI in the 1980s and early 1990s, yet he remained a prominent member of the organization for many years. Even if Mr. Gill was comparatively moderate and did not approve of those tactics himself, he continued to belong to the organization," the adjudicator wrote.

Mr. Gill's counsel could not immediately be reached for comment. He could ask the Federal Court to review the board's decision.

Mr. Gill's hearing was held in February. He stressed at the time that he was a peaceful man.

He said the British Babbar Khalsa, which he led from 1984 to 1992, did not engage in violence. But he was hard-pressed to explain why he wrote an earlier declaration for the Canada Border Services Agency that identified him as the leader of Babbar Khalsa International.

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When asked how he became leader, Mr. Gill said the British Babbar Khalsa was founded after the June, 1984, attack on the Golden Temple in India. He said a few like-minded Sikhs got together to demand justice.

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