2013 NEWS ROUNDUP: JANUARY TO JUNE – APRIL

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TOIFA MUSICAL EXTRAVAGANZA: EMPTY SEATS

Punjabi singer Hans Raj Hans was a no-show at TOIFA’s April 4 musical extravaganza where the number of empty seats was staggering – just as Asian Journal had warned last week in our stories “TOIFA: Hans Raj Hans Faces Legal Problem In B.C.” and “How Many Empty Seats Will You See At TOIFA Events?”

Now many South Asians say they want compensation for having been “tricked” into buying tickets for a show that many felt was not worth attending – something that Asian Journal had warned people about four weeks ago in our March 8 story titled “South Asians Demand Refund After TOIFA Announces Lower Prices For Tickets For Musical Show.”

Organizers were offering free tickets on Thursday evening in a desperate attempt to lure people to the Pacific Coliseum event.

 

 

ALOK GUPTA’S KILLER PLEADS GUILTY TO MANSLAUGHTER

William Andrew Whiteside, 23, who was charged with second-degree murder in July 2012 in the 2011 Christmas Day murder of Kwantlen University student Alok Gupta, 27, of Surrey while he was working at Ken’s Grocery in the 11700-block of 96th Avenue in Surrey, entered a plea to manslaughter with a firearm in Surrey Provincial Court.

Whiteside also pleaded guilty to robbery with a firearm in connection with a December 29, 2011 incident in Surrey.

Whiteside drove two of his friends to the store to rob it because they had partied all night and were broke. He walked into the store with a loaded sawed-off rifle and told Gupta, who was behind the counter not to move.

Whiteside’s friend took the cash from the register and left, but as Whiteside was about to leave, Gupta made a sound that startled him and as he turned towards Gupta, the gun went off, striking Gupta. The robbers fled in a car and spent the $45-$65 they had taken from the register on speed.

Gupta went to a house for help and was transported to Royal Columbian Hospital where he was pronounced dead just before 5 p.m. Whiteside claimed he only wanted to scare Gupta with the gun.

 

 

SHAHRUKH KHAN CHARMS FANS

The King of Bollywood Shahrukh Khan, who just charmed his way into the heart of the South Asian community in the Lower Mainland, told Indira Prahst at Vancouver International Airport that he was very glad that people recognized him here as well as in “the rest of the world” thanks to Bollywood.

He added: “I am very happy we are here and talking about cinema. … I hope [the people here] like us, enjoy what we do and the good stories we tell in films. I hope we can make them happy with it (all).”

Screaming fans carried posters, autograph books and bouquets to greet him at the airport and he thrilled them by walking up to them even as his anxious bodyguards tried to hold them back.

Shahrukh also spoke about his performance at TOIFA Awards Presentation Ceremony at B.C. Place, saying that he was going to give a solo performance, not with other Bollywood stars.

At B.C. Place, Bollywood heartthrobs, Ranbir Kapoor and Anushka Sharma hosted the Awards with the versatile actor, Boman Irani. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Abhishek Bachchan, Katrina Kaif and Priyanka Chopra all delivered incredible performances choreographed by the legendary Shiamak Davar, who brought his unique and innovative ‘Shiamak style’ of dance to the stage.

The audience had to wait until the very end for Shahrukh Khan. The signal that he was about to perform came from the camera zooming in on a little girl holding a sign which read “Shahrukh Khan is the cutest,” followed by the host Ranbir Kapoor and hostess Anushka Sharma introducing  him as the “one and only Shahrukh Khan,” which evoked thunderous applause.

He seemed to really like Vancouver saying: “You are the warmest and craziest (people) that I have ever seen in the whole world – thank you very much.” He also thanked Premier Christy Clark and really appreciated the respect he was shown throughout his stay.

 

 

NDP SHOULDN’T HAVE TRIED TO SABOTAGE TOIFA

Looking back at the Times of India Film Awards (TOIFA) controversy, more and more South Asians started feeling that the NDP’s attack on the Bollywood show was nothing but cheap politics. They noted that South Asians are crazy about Bollywood movies and stars and all that they wanted to do was to enjoy themselves – and they didn’t want any party poopers like the NDP.

Unfortunately, petty politics caused enormous damage both to the Bollywood show and the South Asian community’s image. It even encouraged racism against South Asians.

There is no doubt that the Times of India Group’s organizers really screwed up, especially in the way they put together the so-called Musical Extravaganza and in the manner that the tickets were sold. Also, they botched up by ignoring some key sections of the South Asian media – and paid the price for it. They just did not do their homework properly!

But right from the start, the NDP was hell-bent on sabotaging the show just because it was afraid that it might make many South Asians support Premier Christy Clark. That in itself was an insult to South Asians.

Of course, there is no doubt that Clark staged TOIFA as part of her election strategy, no matter how vehemently she may deny that. But then that is the usual politics that all parties indulge in. In any case, all parties in Canada have been trying to woo India and Indians.

People found it amusing that BC NDP President Moe Sihota attended the glamorous awards night where 30,000 Bollywood fans were present! He even posed with Finance Minister Mike de Jong for a photograph.

 

 

NEW RADIO STATION IN LOWER MAINLAND

Quite a few South Asian media personalities and moneybags are preparing for the fierce competition that lies ahead to get the licence for a new radio station in the Lower Mainland.

And sources say the competition is going to get as dirty as it possibly can as the competing individuals and groups have already started spreading rumours about each other.

You can expect some to try and use their political connections to get the licence, but the CRTC is an independent body.

Two well-known South Asian radio stations in the Lower Mainland broadcast from the U.S. and are expected to compete for the licence. Two other South Asian radio stations have CRTC licences and they may vehemently oppose a licence for a new South Asian radio station.

However, the growing South Asian community needs more radio stations.

Sources said one lawyer who has experience in preparing applications for radio stations has already been contacted by four different parties.

 

 

KIRPAN POLICY FOR B.C. COURTHOUSES

Amritdhari Khalsa Sikhs can now wear a kirpan, a small stylized sword, while visiting courthouse public areas following a security assessment by B.C. sheriffs.

The change came into effect on April 12 in keeping with other jurisdictions, as well as in response to human rights and Supreme Court of Canada decisions. Kirpan accommodation policies are already in effect in the Parliament of Canada buildings, the provincial court of Alberta, and in Toronto courthouses.

Any person wishing to enter a B.C. courthouse with a kirpan must inform the sheriff that they are wearing one and identify themselves as an Amritdhari Sikh. There are size restrictions in place for kirpans allowed in the courtrooms. The kesh and the kara must also serve as proof of the person’s Khalsa Sikh status, and government-issued photo identification may also be requested.

In addition to physical evidence and identification, the sheriff will assess potential risk factors by asking questions such as the reason for the visit, the type of court proceeding they wish to attend, and the person’s relation to the case. Sheriffs maintain the discretion to refuse or admit a kirpan into the courthouse on a case-by-case basis.

The kirpan symbolizes spiritual wisdom and the duty to stand against injustice. The Khalsa (Amritdhari) Sikh code of conduct requires the kirpan to be worn at all times with four other articles of faith. The other articles of faith are the kesh (unshorn hair covered with a turban), kanga (wooden comb), kara (iron bracelet), and kachhera (cotton breeches).

The World Sikh Organization of Canada said that it worked with the B.C. Ministry of Justice as well as the BC Sheriff Service to develop accommodation guidelines for the kirpan in BC courthouses.

 

 

JUSTIN TRUDEAU MAKES CONSERVATIVES NERVOUS!

So Justin Trudeau, 41, won the federal Liberal leadership contest as expected with 80 per cent of the vote and then made it very clear that he would not tolerate any factional politics in the party – no Chretien Liberals versus Paul Martin Liberals that devastated the party.

Trudeau, unlike other Liberal leaders in the past, does not have to placate anyone or any group. The Liberal Party needs him as poll after poll has shown that with him at the helm, they can come back into power – something that seemed a mirage just the other day. The latest Nanos tracking numbers last week revealed that national support for the Liberal Party was at 35.4%, just ahead of the Conservatives at 31.3%.

So it was little wonder that the Conservative Party that has been in panic mode since last fall when polls started showing that Canadians were terribly excited about Trudeau – experience or no experience, policy or no policy – couldn’t help being mean: they attacked Trudeau even while congratulating him on his victory last Sunday!

That really showed a lack of class!

 

 

OPPOSITION TO DEATH PENALTY FOR PROF. BHULLAR

Over 500 Sikhs and others held a rally in downtown Vancouver to oppose the death penalty for Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar in India. The Lower Mainland’s gurdwaras came together to organize and charter buses from as far as Abbotsford to attend.

Protesters met in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery and marched to the Indian Consulate General where several speeches were made about Bhullar’s case.

The Vancouver Police Department was very helpful and respectful towards the protesters and offered to escort the peaceful protesters around. People commended them for their positive and respectful gestures.

Bhullar was convicted by the Supreme Court of India in 2001 for the attempt on the life of Maninderjit Singh Bitta, the then-president of the All-India Youth Congress Committee, on September 11, 1993, in which nine people died and 29 were injured. His confession was reportedly extracted under torture while in police custody – something that is all too common in India.

In 2003, Bhullar filed a petition for mercy, supported by Amnesty International and the German Bundestag’s Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid, which then-Indian President Pratibha Patil denied in 2011.

Bhullar’s wife Navneet immigrated to Canada in 1994 and is a Canadian citizen. Bhullar himself has never been to Canada.

On January 17, 1995, Bhullar was illegally deported from Germany. He was handed over to the Indian authorities on the basis that he had nothing to fear on his return to India. However, he was arrested and jailed as soon as he landed in Delhi, and apparently tortured to obtain a false confession.

When Germany deported Bhullar to a death-penalty prone country it violated the European Convention on Human Rights. After his deportation, the court of appeal in Frankfurt allowed his appeal and said that he should not have been deported as he would face torture, harassment and death in India and were he to re-enter Germany he would be given asylum.

 

 

VAISAKHI NAGAR KIRTANS IN VANCOUVER & SURREY

Khalsa Diwan Society President Sohan Singh Deo of Vancouver’s Ross Street Sikh Temple invited all Canadians to take part in Vaisakhi celebrations in Vancouver. He noted that Vaisakhi is one of the most important and celebrated events in Sikhism.  Associated with the harvest festival in Punjab, it also symbolizes the anniversary of the birth of the Khalsa and the establishment of equality.The gurdwara has been spruced up since Deo took over as president with repairs and renovations which have made the congregation proud and happy.

Tens of thousands participated in the Vancouver Nagar Kirtan as usual.

But over the past decade, the Surrey Nagar Kirtan has become the largest one in B.C. and this year the largest crowd in the history of the Surrey Khalsa Day Parade, in excess of 200,000 people, from across all cultures and religions, came out to participate.

Contrary to what media in general and others have said, the event continued to be political in nature. The subject of Khalistan was not new to the parade, with slogans being chanted at booths along 128 Street, Sikh youth wearing Khalistan t-shirts and several Khalistan flags hoisted on floats. However, what was new was more reflectivity and discussion about Khalistan – beyond mere sloganeering.