Police are searching for a missing Indian athlete who was last seen in Abbotsford on Friday.
Liakat Ali, a kabaddi player contracted to participate in a number of tournaments, has disappeared after he was dropped off at Mount Lehman Road and the Fraser Highway at 7 p.m. Friday (Aug. 10), said Const. Ian MacDonald.
Ali was expected to play in an Abbotsford tournament last weekend but did not show up.
It’s still not clear if the 24-year-old athlete is in danger, avoiding immigration, or visiting relatives and is out of touch with his contacts.
“It’s hard to say at this point,” said MacDonald.
There’s no evidence that Ali, who has a valid visa until September, has come to harm.
“But he’s off the grid right now and that’s a concern.”
It’s not the first time a visiting kabaddi player has gone missing while in Canada.
Citizenship and Immigration Canada revoked a streamlined visa process for visiting kabaddi players after a large number of players went missing in 2011.
The visa program was the result of increasing requests from kabaddi federations in 2010, according to the ministry.
But the high number of refugee claims afterward caused concern over the whether the applicants were legitimate.
“There’s evidence that in 2011, of the 670 visas issued to Kabaddi players, there were 27 refugee claims and 91 people who did not report back to the visa office as required by the program,” ministry staff wrote in an e-mail.
Players visiting for the 2012 kabaddi season now must apply through regular channels for temporary visas.
Balraj Sangha, director of the Abbotsford Sports Kabaddi Club, said it’s too early to make assumptions about the whereabouts of Ali, who was brought in by an Edmonton club and is due to play another Abbotsford tournament on Aug. 26.
“He might be visiting relatives. If he doesn’t show for that tournament then people should worry,” said Sangha.
The Abbotsford club has been bringing overseas players to the community for close to a decade without problems, he said.
“We have sponsored four players. All them come back and forth to and from India with no problems.”
The people that went missing last year were brought in by clubs in Alberta and Ontario and many weren’t athletes, Sangha said.
Ali was in Edmonton until Aug. 9, when arrangements were made for him to travel to Abbotsford, said MacDonald.
The truck driver who dropped Ali off saw the player get into a pick-up driven by a South Asian man with a turban.
Ali is five feet, one inch in height and weighs 160 pounds. He is clean shaven with short black hair and has brown eyes.
He was last seen wearing a black T-shirt and flip flops.
Anyone with information on Ali’s location should call the APD at 604-859-5225.