INS denies request by 3 jailed men to be freed on parole

September 15, 1994|By Marcia Myers | Marcia Myers,Sun Staff Writer

Three Sikhs, who were denied political asylum and have spent the last two years in jail waiting to be returned to India, will have to stay in jail awhile longer.

An official with the Immigration and Naturalization Service said yesterday that he has denied their request for parole.

A petition signed by more than 100 members of the Sikh community as well as correspondence from people claiming to be relatives accompanied the parole application, said Don Crocetti, deputy director of the INS office in Baltimore. However, the family relationships have not been corroborated and he said there was no indication that local Sikhs were willing to post bond for their release.

"I would have to be convinced that there would not be a security risk or risk of these individuals absconding," Mr. Crocetti said. "Basically, what the Sikh community did was offer physical, emotional, and spiritual support. That doesn't quite meet our criteria."

He said he is waiting for the Indian government to supply documents verifying the identities of the men, but because the three are from rural areas, officials have had difficulty obtaining the records.

"We still don't know if these individuals are who they say they are," he said. A meeting between INS officials and the Indian Embassy will take place within two weeks to try to resolve the case, he said.

Martin Bahl, staff attorney for the federal public defenders' office in Baltimore, which is representing the men, said he did not want to discuss the decision until he had an opportunity to speak to his clients. Mr. Bahl previously noted that there is no evidence that the men have criminal records or would be a threat to the community. He also said they would be extremely unlikely to flee, given the support offered them here.

The Sikhs -- Manjeet Singh, Manjit Singh and Satnaam Singh -- attended a hearing in federal court last month after filing petitions challenging their length of detainment. They are being held in the Dorchester County Dentention Center in Cambridge.

U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis has given the INS until next week to respond to that petition.

The men arrived at Kennedy International Airport in New York without documents, each claiming to have fled India to avoid political persecution. Hostilities against Sikhs have escalated since the 1984 assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by two Sikh members of her bodyguard. They were taken into custody and not permitted into the country. None has been charged with a crime.

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