Friday, April 27, 2007


A young offender has been sentenced to three years in custody in connection with the vicious beatings of two elderly Indo-Canadian men in a park in Surrey. The 15-year-old boy, who had been found guilty of manslaughter, aggravated assault and robbery, received the maximum sentence under the Youth Criminal Justice Act. In July 2005, Mewa Singh Bains, 83, and Shingara Singh Thandi, 76, were beaten with baseball bats by two teenagers in the public washrooms at Bear Creek Park. Thandi died three weeks later in hospital. Bains, who was beaten the day before Thandi, died of a stroke a month after being attacked. The boys, who cannot be identified because they were 13 and 15 at the time of the attack, had initially been charged with second-degree murder in the beating death of Thandi.
But the charge was reduced to manslaughter after B.C. Supreme Court Justice William Grist said the boys lacked the experience and foresight to show murderous intent. The two youths were not charged with murder in Bains's death because it could not be linked directly to the attack. In handing down his sentence on the one teen Wednesday, Grist said he considered the violent nature of the attacks on Bains and Thandi. He said the actions of the teen were shocking considering he was only 13 at the time. Grist acknowledged the youth expressed remorse for his actions but questioned if he was really sorry for what he did.

Families outraged
The families of the men expressed outrage at the sentence. Thandi's son Jhalman said the justice system has ignored his family's loss. "What [the judge] should keep in mind [is] that they killed two people and it was a planned attack, it did not happen … accidentally." The mother of the teen — who, under a court order, can't be identified — expressed her condolences to both families. "I feel really bad for what my son has done, but I just want to let them know that we're praying for them and their families." The second teen will be sentenced as an adult in mid-June.

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Vancouver: The government of India is launching a diplomatic protest over a parade in Surrey this month that included a float with alleged terrorist leader Talwinder Singh Parmar portrayed as a Sikh martyr. "We are very much concerned that this happened," said Zile Singh, India's deputy consul-general. "Diplomats from the High Commission office in Ottawa intend to raise the matter with the Canadian officials," he added. "This is not acceptable to us. We intend to convey that it is not acceptable, so the [Canadian] government understands. This should not happen again."
Parmar, a militant Khalistani advocate, has been identified in a B.C. court case as the mastermind behind a mid-air bomb explosion aboard an Air-India flight in 1985, en route from Canada to London, England. Born in Punjab and later made a Canadian citizen, he was killed by police during an encounter in India in 1992. There were 329 people killed in the Air-India bombing, which remains one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in aviation history. Singh said the portrayal of Parmar as a martyr was "very objectionable."
Indian officials were also concerned that some people involved in the parade showed their support for groups considered terrorist organizations and banned in Canada, the International Sikh Youth Federation and Babbar Khalsa. The Sikh community in Greater Vancouver holds two competing parades to mark the beginning of the harvest season in Punjab. Gurdwara Sahib Dasmesh Darbar of Surrey held its annual Vaisakhi parade this year on April 7. The Vaisakhi Parade organized by Vancouver's Khalsa Diwan Society was held on Aoril 14.
The parade in Surrey attracted thousands of people including prominent B.C. and federal politicians. The parade had a float that included Parmar among the portraits of Sikh martyrs and some organizers wore work jackets with the word "Khalistan," the name proposed for an independent state for the Sikhs carved out of India.

Friday, April 6, 2007


A Port Coquitlam woman who survived being shot in the face by her estranged husband is speaking out against what she calls an epidemic of domestic violence in the Indo-Canadian community. In an exclusive interview with CBC News, Gurjeet Kaur Ghuman described how her husband climbed into her car last October in Port Coquitlam with a gun, shot her and then turned the gun on himself. Gurjeet Kaur Ghuman was left blind after her husband shot her twice in the head in October. Parmajit Singh Ghuman died, but the woman he intended to kill lived. "He actually shot me twice in my head, one right by my eyes and one right through my brain," she said. Ghuman, who is now blind, said she felt the need to tell her story because so many other Indo-Canadian women in B.C.'s Lower Mainland have been victims of domestic violence. Several have not survived.


British Indian actor Naveen Andrews, who plays Aishwarya Rai's abusive husband in Provoked, calls himself a fraud because he can't speak Hindi. Andrews' parents migrated to Britain in 1965 and endured all kinds of hardship and racism before his birth. Now, the Lost star is ashamed of himself and feels bad for his parents who might be disappointed in him because he can neither speak their mother tongue nor does he have any interest in discovering his roots, reports "As I get older I appreciate what my parents had to go through... They had to endure a lot of what I would've found unendurable," he said. "Life was very hard for them and yet they had this kid (Andrews) growing up in the 1970s speaking differently, acting differently, moving differently. It must've been very distressing to them. I'm a complete fraud. I go to India and I can't even speak my own language. They laugh at me."


Of the 24,000 runners taking part in the Boston Marathon this year, one woman is planning to join from more than 300 km above the actual venue. Sunita Williams, an Indian-American astronaut in the middle of a six-month stint in orbit on the International Space Station, is an official entrant in the April 16 race. A Massachusetts native, Williams plans to run the 42 km on the space station's treadmill as the first person to participate in a marathon from space. She even has a so-called bib number, 14,000, forwarded to her electronically by the Boston Athletic Association.
Williams, 41, qualified for the race by finishing among the top 100 women in last year's Houston Marathon, with a time of three hours, 29 minutes and 57 seconds, and has been working up her stamina in space over the last few months. "I think it's going as well as it can go," Williams said in interviews from the ISS broadcast on NASA TV, noting that she had already completed a 16-mile (25.6-km) run in preparation. "I think I'm almost there." The conditions are not quite the same.
There is no way of simulating the Boston race's most infamous stretch, known to runners as Heartbreak Hill: "Thank God, we can't," said Williams. But for anyone who thinks being in orbit gives an advantage, running on a treadmill in nearly gravity-less space carries its own challenges. "The treadmill itself isn't the easiest thing to run on," Williams said in a televised interview from the station with The Boston Globe. "It's going to be a little bit of a pain." The hip and shoulders of Williams will be strapped into a harness, connected to the treadmill by bungee chords.