ST. PETERSBURG TIMES
In seeking U.S. asylum, he now lives a nightmare
By MARY JO MELONE, Times Staff Writer
Published September 15, 2004
Before Tuesday, I had never talked to anyone held by that scary new federal agency, the Department of Homeland Security. But then Paramvir Singh Chattwal called.
He said he wants to die.
Chattwal has been in DHS' detention facility at the Manatee County jail since last October. From the moment he got there, he has been fighting to be saved from the very country he once thought would be his refuge.
Chattwal sought political asylum in the United States, saying he had endured threats, torture and detention in his native India. He is a member of the Sikh faith, a minority in India and for years the target of oppression by the Hindu majority. When he was a teenager, Chattwal said, he witnessed the police execution of four other young men. To keep his silence, they detained him. He was beaten, subjected to electric shock, submerged in near-boiling water, burned with cigarettes, hung upside down and left for dead.
Chattwal came to the United States and hired a lawyer for his asylum request in 2000. Bureaucratic failure after failure followed, he said when we talked Tuesday. He said the Immigration and Naturalization Service never told his attorney the date of his asylum hearing. It was held anyway, and when Chattwal failed to show, a deportation order was issued. That order somehow never reached him.
Chattwal said he assumed the asylum process was still going on, and moved around the country, working the odd jobs that illegal immigrants often take - in hotels, a convenience store. He even worked as a stable hand. Years passed. He took a Florida vacation and was caught speeding in Venice. When police ran a check on his name, his deportation order popped up. He was promptly sent to Homeland Security's Bradenton detention center.
Chattwal's case has been taken up by the Florida Center for Survivors of Torture and Refugee Services in Clearwater as well as Amnesty International USA. They want to know why the government is so bent on deporting Chattwal, despite the fact that he's no danger to anybody, and certainly not a security threat.
He never has had a hearing on his asylum request at which he was present. One judge ordered the case reopened, only to have another judge close it.
The Canadian government offered to take in Chattwal, but the Department of Homeland Security said no.
The prospect of returning to India has plunged him into despair. He thinks of killing himself in jail.
"If you have the choice of being tortured and killed and ending your own life, what would you choose?" he said when we spoke by phone. "I don't think I can go through it again. People accused of crime in this country get a trial ... What wrong did I do?" The Department of Homeland Security, working through a smaller agency called Immigration and Customs Enforcement, has taken over the duties of INS. The new agency has a chilling name: ICE. It has shown Chattwal no mercy. An agency spokesperson wouldn't explain to the St. Petersburg Times why he isn't being allowed to go to Canada. Chattwal said he never heard about his asylum hearing, but the agency said he had his chance, didn't appear, and the law has been followed.
He lost there and has lost since.
Chattwal lost for what may be the last time Tuesday, when a federal appeals court refused to stop his deportation. When I spoke to him again after the court ruling, he talked through tears. "I'm absolutely devastated," he said. "I just pray God come down and save me or take my life."
The news also stunned the people who have worked on his behalf. "We've tried everything to save this man's life," said Niki L. Kelly from the Florida Center for Survivors of Torture and Refugee Services.
Chattwal said his family has told him authorities will be waiting for him when he gets off the plane in New Dehli and he'll be whisked off to God knows where. He fully expects to never be heard from again.
Such a horror, and yet I'm afraid many people here won't side with Chattwal. In a post 9/11 world, sympathy is in short supply, even though this country was built on being a beacon for people like Chattwal. When we lost our sense of safety did we lose our sense of decency too?
[Last modified September 15, 2004, 01:08:22]
COMMENT 1 ON ABOVE.
We have learnt of the news item in St Petersburg of a Sikh, Chhatwal, seeking asylum in the USA.
The reality and truth about India is extremely BITTER and sad. In 1947 when the British left their Indian colony, they did not give freedom to the PEOPLE of India but to a BANDIT, Jawaharlal Nehru to run, rule and misrule the country.
The devious "bastard" NEHRU, instead of serving his people and land, if fact accepted the UNCONDITIONAL SURRENDER of one third of India to ISLAM. This was history's worst ever defeat and surrender by the HINDUS of India, the majority community. But NEHRU, the Imperial agent of the British called it INDEPENDENCE and asked his slave nation to sing and dance to celebrate the departure of the British from India. He spared NO thought for the ETERNAL SLAVERY of Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, and the whole of EAST Bengal that were plunged in ISLAMIC barbarity and darkness.
The elections since 1947 have been SHAM since they invariably return to power his own CONGRESS Party. As if that was not tragic enough, the further BLIGHT is the fact that TODAY, India under a MUSLIM President and a CATHOLIC "Queen" SONIA from ITALY, is simply decomposing and disintegrating rapidly.
One can go and see KASHMIR where the security forces and the HINDUS are being SLAUGHTERED on daily basis. That State was meant to be a tourists' paradise.
Since the Sikhs are FREEDOM LOVING people, the anger and wrath of this ANTI NATIONAL government has made them a special target. Their State, the Punjab, has been cut, chopped and fragmented into FIVE PARTS now.
A ferocious MILITARY invasion of their Punjab took place in June 1984 to demoralise them and to make them lick slavery under Congress bandits and swine.
There is rampant corruption, fanned by the government. Sonia's husband, Rajiv Gandhi, took BRIBE of $50 MILLION from the Swedish firm of BOFORS Guns. He has never been tried or punished. On the contrary he is called Mr Clean. What a fraud! What a lie!
The Indians are reduced to be coolies, serfs and slaves of the Congress CROCODILE and many are RUNNING abroad to live decent crime free lives, away from the terror of their own government.
We congratulate you for focusing on the sad fate of one Sikh in America. We urge you to please write more on the COLLAPSE OF THE HINDUS IN HINDUSTAN who are kissing the foot of ITALIAN BORN Sonia Gandhi (in reality a KHAN) and licking the foot of their MOHAMMEDAN Supreme Commander called ABDUL KALAM. They both being FOREIGNERS (one MOHAMMEDAN, the other ITALIAN), have NO heart in the well-being of the Hindus or their HINDUSTAN. In fact they wish to see all the Hindus DEAD or CONVERTED.
When the Hindu "SHEEP" become men or stalwarts like the Russians and the AMERICANS, they will change the present Constitution. Then NO Sikh will flee his land of birth.
.................INDIANS ON THE RUN ABROAD,
Whether the WELL SETTLED NRI's or those (our NOT SO LUCKY compatriots) still "on the run", have the same background and the SAME motivatioin to vote with our feet.
The INTELLIGENTSIA need to look further deep down for the causes as to why we are success abroad but a dismal failure at home.
For the latter there are two obvious reasons (1) callous HINDU BASHING "Sarkar" and the BANDIT DYNASTY that told EAST Bengal in 1972, "Secularism is not for you Muslims, but only for our Hindu serfs and slaves.", and (2) rampant culture of corruption (BOFORS CHOR) and buraucratic strangulation ("permit, license, quota, sifaarish and rishwat") that kills initiatives.
I think our challenge is to REMOVE both Abdul Kalam and Sonia KHAN with a slap or shot or hurricane.
In a Hindu Rashtra, NO Hindu will be endangered in Kashmir or facing DEATH in Ayodhya, and NO Sikh will be seeking asylum in America.
This is the challenge facing the enslaved Hindu nation. It is far safer and easier to write to the journalist of St Petersburg Times.
I should IGNORE her but concentrate in dead earnest on our ENEMIES IN HINDUSTAN who are laughing in their sleeves, seeing us distraught and upset.
Since 1947 the rule and fate of Hindus is in the hands of a BANDIT DYNASTY. We are under the shadow of slow death, NOT ONLY IN SOUTH KASHMIR AND AYODHYA. Our Bharat is decomposing and disintegrating before our very eyes and we feel helpless, trying to defend the INDEFENSIBLE.
Our GUNS ought to be firing non stop on Supreme Commander Abdul Kalam for being the MOST USELESS bloke on earth, and on the uncrowned "QUEEN EMPRESS" Sonia Khan of Hindustan for being the MOST DEADLY "witch" who is charming the secular ("nishkaam sewak") Sikh Prime Minister with a "laughing gas", who wishes to see all the Hindus dead or converted.
We Hindus are being conditioned to look at a mouse, ignoring the mountain.