South Asian group seeks probe into death of 6-year-old Indian along US-Mexico border, blames border militarisation

Washington: A South Asian group has sought a probe into the death of a six-year-old Indian girl, whose body was found along the US-Mexico border in Arizona, alleging that militarisation of the area and rejection of migrants attempting to cross at the entry ports have created an inhuman environment.

The body of Gurupreet Kaur was found by the US Border Patrol officials 27 kilometres west of Lukeville, Arizona last week, when the temperature reached a high of 42°C.

Kaur's mother left her with a woman and her child and went in search of water. The deceased was travelling with four other persons, including her mother, and dropped near the border by human smugglers who ordered the group to cross in the dangerous and austere location.

 South Asian group seeks probe into death of 6-year-old Indian along US-Mexico border, blames border militarisation

The US-Mexico border wall at Santa Teresa, New Mexico. Reuters

“We are devastated to learn the death of Gurupreet Kaur,” Lakshmi Sridaran, interim co-executive director of the South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT), said in a statement. The group said that it will send a letter of inquiry to Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin K McAleenan this week, demanding a probe into the girl's death and information about her mother and the other migrants in their group.

“US border militarisation, forced migration, and rejection of migrants attempting to cross at ports of entry have created an environment where a child like Gurupreet can die in the desert alone,” Sridaran said.

“Until a new system is created that upholds the dignity of all migrants, we will continue to see unspeakable tragedies, notwithstanding the countless deaths that go undocumented," she said. While ICE and CBP have experienced unprecedented surges in their budgets, their treatment of migrants has plunged to new lows, Sridaran said.

Indian American attorney Ravi Batra termed Kaur's death as a heart-wrenching story. “That her adult parent(s) made the conscious choice to enter the attractive not-so-porous southern border of the United States hiring human traffickers is criminally negligent,” he said.

The number of Indians crossing the US border from Mexico has steadily risen in recent years, according to immigration officials. They are among thousands of Africans and Asian migrants making the arduous journey, led by smuggling cartels.

Last year, more than 9,000 people from India were detained at US borders nationwide — a big increase from the prior year, when that number was about 3,100. A decade ago, in 2009, the number was 204.

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Updated Date: Jun 19, 2019 11:33:24 IST