The born identity

The case of 23-year-old Deepan Budlakoti has caught the attention of the Canadian media, a section of which has described his predicament as Kafkaesque. The Canada-born man of Indian descent, who has served time in jail, is now fighting to stay on in the country of his birth.

Budlakoti was born Oct 19, 1989 to Indian parents who had come to work as household support staff at the Indian High Commission in Ottawa. He holds a birth certificate issued by the Canadian province of Ontario but his passport has been revoked by Canadian authorities who want to deport him to India, a country he has never been to.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada says his passport application “claimed incorrectly that he was a citizen” and that “he was convicted, and served significant jail time, for trafficking both weapons and drugs”.

Now that Budlakoti has served three years in prison for crimes he committed and his passport has been revoked, the Canadian Border Service Agency (CBSA) is trying to convince India that it should take him back, while India has rejected the demand.

Kapil Sharma, consular officer at the Indian mission, has told the CBSA that Budlakoti was not an Indian citizen. Budlakoti admits he did “stupid things” but says he is older now and wants to move on with life in Canada. But he does not have a work permit given his crime record. At the same time, India does not seem to be a way out for him. “I don’t know anyone in India. I have no family there,” he said.

The Globe and Mail, describing Budlakoti’s life as a bizarre, almost-Kafkaesque existence, said “he lives in fear that, any day, government agents could knock on his parents’ door in Ottawa, haul him away and put him on a one-way flight to India”.

Nathalie Des Rosiers, general counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, described Budlakoti’s plight as a “tantamount to cruel and unusual punishment”.

“It is like something out of Kafka,” The Globe and Mail quoted Budlakoti’s lawyer Peter Stieda as saying in reference to the surreal protagonists created by Prague-born writer Franz Kafka.

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