Avtar Singh, the former Indian Army officer accused of killing a Kashmiri human rights activist, had sneaked in the US after his plea for asylum was denied in Canada, where he had fled from India in 2003. Singh killed his wife and two sons and grievously injured his another son, before turning the gun on himself last week in Fresno County in California.
Canadian authorities had let Indian officials know Singh was living in Canada in 2004, according to court documents shown to the Associated Press. The Singhs lived in Canada with family relatives for two years and applied for asylum, but their claim was denied, according to Singh’s US asylum documents provided to AP by his immigration consultant. After his cover was blown, Singh and his family crossed illegally into the US and settled in Fresno County, where Singh filed an asylum case for himself in 2011.
“He told me, ‘My job in India was to eliminate terrorists who were against the Indian government. I was good at that, they never found the bodies when I did it,’” said Stephens, Singh’s immigration consultant. In his asylum application, Singh said he did not kill Kashmiri activist Jaleel Andrabi, but knew who did. “I am being made a scapegoat,” he said, adding that he would be killed if he returned to India.
Singh lived quietly in California initially, working at a truck wash and at a sandwich shop. He eventually started a trucking business, he owned five tractors and trailers, which he named Jay Truck Lines, after his third son, a US citizen. “He was so nice with everyone, with our community. And he was very good to his wife and children,” said Balvir Singh Grewal, who worked as a driver for Singh. “I never saw him angry.” Community members in Fresno said Singh did not hide that he was an Indian army major, but he omitted the salient detail that he was wanted for murder in his homeland.
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