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Canada to deport Indian-origin truck driver involved in 2018 bus crash that killed 16 people

Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, a resident of Alberta province, allegedly drove through a stop sign and crashed into a junior hockey team's bus in Saskatchewan province, resulting in the deaths of 16 people. He pleaded guilty to dangerous driving and was sentenced to eight years in prison.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Ottawa (Canada) Published on: May 25, 2024 16:44 IST
Canada bus crash
Image Source : AP The fatal crash in Canada's Saskatchewan in 2018 that killed 16 members of a junior hockey team.

Ottawa: An Indian-origin truck driver, who was involved in a horrific bus crash in 2018 that claimed 16 lives, has been ordered to be deported back to India. Jaskirat Singh Sidhu, who arrived in Canada from India in 2014, drove through a stop sign into the path of a junior hockey team's bus in Saskatchewan province, killing 16 members of the team and injuring 13 others on April 6, 2018.

Sidhu, a resident of Calgary city in Alberta province, pleaded guilty to 16 counts of dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing 16 deaths and injuring 13 others. He was sentenced to eight years and granted full parole last year, but the decision to deport him to India came on Friday at an Immigration and Refugee Board hearing in Calgary.

Trent Cook from the immigration division of the board, who oversaw the 15-minute hearing, told Sidhu that he could not consider humanitarian and compassionate factors. "My sole role today is to make a finding on whether the minister has established the facts that support their allegation that you're inadmissible for serious criminality. I am satisfied that the minister's report is well-founded. I am required by law to issue you with a deportation order," Cook said.

Sidhu's deportation may take months

Sidhu’s lawyer Michael Greene had said the decision was a foregone conclusion, and all it took to deport him was to prove he was not a Canadian citizen and committed a serious crime. However, he said there are more legal and procedural steps to follow the decision and Sidhu's deportation may not happen for months or even years, as he is a permanent resident.

Greene said he plans to file an application soon asking the government to return Sidhu’s permanent resident status on humanitarian grounds. He said immigration officials would look at Sidhu's offence, his remorse and whether he is a security risk or a danger to the public, highlighting that he and his wife have a child in Canada who has severe heart and lung complications.

In case Sidhu is deported, he would most likely return alone as his wife and son may not be able to follow him to India due to the child's intensive medical treatment, according to BBC. It could take two to three years before Sidhu gets a final decision on his appeal and it is unclear whether he will be able to stay in Canada while the application is heard. “It depends how aggressive the (Canadian) government wants to be about removing him or whether they want to let him stay while this plays out,” Greene said.

What do families of victims say?

Several family members of those killed in the crash have said they want Sidhu deported. However, Scott Thomas, who lost his 18-year-old son Evan in the accident, has said he has forgiven Sidhu and even advocated for him to stay in Canada. Toby Boulet, the father of Logan Boulet, one of the victims of the Saskatchewan fatal crash, shared his relief over the decision, reported CTV News.

"Bernadine and I are thankful for the decision today as we continue to believe that Mr Sidhu should be deported from Canada. We are prepared to remain diligent in this belief even as Mr Sidhu may launch further appeals," said Toby Boulet. 

On the other hand, Ryan Straschnitzki, one of the Humboldt Broncos players who survived the crash, said he holds "no negative emotions" toward Sidhu or his family. "It’s kind of out of my hands it’s not really my responsibility but obviously you want the best for someone, and the best for a human," he said.

(with inputs from PTI)

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