New Delhi: Seven people, apparently all Indian nationals without proper documentation have been detained in Minnesota State on the US side of the United States-Canada border in the case of alleged human smuggling along with a US citizen after four other persons, including an infant, also apparently Indian nationals, were found dead in the freezing cold on the Canadian side of the border earlier.
India has sought consular access to the seven detained Indians even as Indian consular teams are coordinating with both US and Canadian authorities in the case.
Sources on Saturday said, “On January 19, US authorities in Minnesota State, near the US – Canada border, came across a group of people who were apparently without proper documentation.
Based on information obtained from them, Canadian authorities launched a search and found four bodies in Manitoba province on the Canadian side of the border. These four people (a man, a woman, a teenage boy, an infant) appeared to have died due to the cold.
The people without proper documentation on the US side, as well as the deceased persons on the Canadian side, appear to be Indian nationals. However, further efforts are underway to identify them and confirm their nationalities. Post-mortem of the victims is likely to be carried out on January 24.”
Sources further said, “US authorities have detained seven people without proper documentation, as well as one US citizen, for allegedly being involved in human smuggling activity from Canada to the US. One of them is still hospitalised due to cold-related injuries while earlier one more person had been hospitalised.”
On efforts by Indian diplomats on the matter in both Canada and the US, sources said, “The Consulate General of India in Toronto immediately sent a consular team to Manitoba, which is now liaising with local authorities to render any consular help regarding the matter of the four deceased persons.
The Consulate General as well as the High Commission in Ottawa are also in touch with Canadian provincial and federal authorities for ascertaining details of this tragedy.”
Sources added, “On the US side, the Consulate General of India in Chicago has urgently sent a consular team to Minneapolis, which is now coordinating and rendering consular assistance. They have sought consular access to the detained persons. The Consulate and the Embassy in Washington D.C. are also in touch with US Department of Justice, and the US Customs and Border Police. Indian Missions and Posts will continue to extend all assistance.”
Reflecting the urgency of the matter, External Affairs Minister (EAM) S. Jaishankar had earlier on Friday tweeted, “Shocked by the report that four Indian nationals, including an infant, have lost their lives at the Canada-US border. Have asked our Ambassadors in the US and Canada to urgently respond to the situation.”...