In a setback for hundreds of Indian students, Canada has begun hearings against many of them for allegedly entering and living in the country on fake admission letters between 2017-2020.
At least 50 students have had their cases heard so far in the case, with more proceedings expected in April and May.
The students, who were offered admission letters by Jalandhar-based education agent Brijesh Mishra, have maintained that they had no idea of the letters being fraudulent and paid anywhere between Rs 15-20 lakhs for enrollment in Canada’s top colleges.
The Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) sent deportation notices to the students when the latter started applying for permanent residency in the country.
Though these hearings will determine whether the students will remain in Canada or will have to go back to their hometowns in India, some remain determined to fight back till the very end.
“Many of us don’t plan on going back to Punjab. We will appeal to the higher courts if the hearing goes against us," stated Agampreet Singh, who currently lives in Brampton.
Though the hearings can prove to be detrimental to the Canadian dreams that many of these individuals dreamt of, they will not indefinitely ban them from entering the North American country.
"Some of the students have been sentenced to an exclusionary order and a five-year ban on entering the country. Many of us are still awaiting our hearings, while some will have to appear for the same in May," added Sandeep Sandhu.
The students, who have been reaching out to Canadian and Indian parliamentarians over the issue, have held protests in cities such as Brampton and Toronto, while also holding a car rally in Ontario to highlight their concerns.
With most of the students hailing from Punjab and Canada hosting one of the biggest populations from the state among countries abroad, many students, and Sikh groups have offered support to the aggrieved individuals not only monetarily but also legally.
"We have arranged a lawyer for the students so that they can fight their cases in court as it’s not their fault that they were misled by the agent in taking these fake admission letters,” Harinder Singh, a representative of Canada-based Montreal Youth Student Organisation, had told The Free Press Journal.
According to CBC's The Fifth Estate, police officials in Jalandhar have already arrested an education agent, working with Education and Migration Services, the company owned by Brijesh Mishra.
Rahul Bhargava was arrested while Mishra and another partner Gurnam Singh are still on the run, as per the report.
The agents will be facing multiple charges under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) concerning forgery, cheating, etc.
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