BY RATTAN MALL
* Asian Journal broke the story of the incident in the first week of December on our website and emailed the link to mainstream media to ensure maximum exposure of the appalling act.
* Asian Journal was the first to report that police had decided not to lay charges against the accused. I posted the story on our website on Monday and emailed the link to mainstream media. The 24 Hours newspaper was the first to follow up our story and that led to other media also following up.
* Asian Journal was again the first to report on our website on Wednesday that police had decided to re-investigate the incident and sent the link to mainstream media.
FOLLOWING the outcry in the South Asian community, Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, Vancouver Police Chief Constable Jim Chu, and community leaders will be addressing the media at 1 p.m. in regards to the recent investigation into the defilement of the Komagata Maru Memorial.
PARGAN Mattu, who photographed the man who urinated on the Komagata Maru Memorial at Harbour Green Park in Coal Harbour in Vancouver back in December, told Asian Journal on Wednesday that Detective Constable Dale Quiring of the Hate Crimes Unit of Vancouver Police told him that police were going to re-investigate the incident.
He said Quiring told him that police would “collect some more information and send it to the Crown.”
VANCOUVER Police Sgt. Randy Fincham told Asian Journal on Monday (January 13) in an email: “The young man believed to have been involved in the incident has been identified and spoken too. As a result of the investigation, it was determined that charges would not be laid.”
To my questions: “But why exactly are the charges not being laid? Is he mentally challenged?”, Randy merely replied: “In laying a charge, investigators would need to establish that a criminal offence took place, laying a charge was in the public interest and that there was a substantial likelihood of a conviction. In this case, it was determined that all three criteria had not been established.”
I had phoned and emailed Fincham on December 23 to find out if any charges had been laid against the man, but he told me that because of the holiday season he was not able to get a hold of the investigators.
I pursued the matter this week. When Fincham didn’t return my phone calls, I emailed him again on January 13 (Monday) and he then responded.
AS pressure grew on Vancouver Police and many nasty comments were posted on websites mocking them, Fincham said: “It has been suggested that police could have issued the man a by-law ticket for the incident. This was, in fact, one of the options that was contemplated, but certain underlying facts and circumstances led to the conclusion that a by-law ticket would not be appropriate.”
But Mattu was determined to seek justice for the South Asian community and he deserves the community’s praise and support.
AS reported in this newspaper last month, a visitor from India and his friend (Mattu) who were visiting the memorial monument were allegedly threatened by the man who they say was very confrontational and attempted to engage in a physical altercation.
He made many remarks and asked: “What are you guys trying to prove?” He reportedly threw a soccer ball at the memorial. Then he urinated on the memorial and was photographed. A police complaint was made.
Asian Journal posted the story on its website www.AsianJournal.ca.
Following media inquiries about this, the Vancouver Park Board issued a statement.
“On behalf of my fellow Commissioners, we are saddened and deeply offended by this disgraceful act,” said Park Board Chair Sarah Blyth. “The monument was created in partnership with the Khalsa Diwan Society to embrace multiculturalism and remind people about the devastating impact that racial intolerance and discrimination have had upon our community.”
Parks staff cleaned the monument.
Vancouver Police first said that their hate crimes investigator was also looking at the file, but later said that they did not believe that this was a hate crime focused on any one particular group and the investigation was closed at this point.
That angered the South Asian community that felt that Vancouver Police were biased.
What is worse, the Vancouver Police spokesperson told the media that the white man was fairly intoxicated – something that the visitor from India and his friend said was not true.
DURING Question Period in the House of Commons last month, Tim Uppal, federal Minister of State for Multiculturalism, said: “This is indeed a disgraceful act, and we are pleased that the Vancouver police are investigating it further. This shameful incident of desecration is very upsetting.”
The Komagata Maru Monument commemorates the 376 Punjabi passengers who were aboard the ship which was turned away upon arriving on Canadian shores in 1914.
“The tragic events of the Komagata Maru were a regrettable chapter in Canada’s history,” added Uppal. “That is why our Conservative Government worked with the Khalsa Diwan Society to build this important monument and why Prime Minister Stephen Harper was the first to officially apologize for what happened to the passengers of the Komagata Maru on behalf of all Canadians.”
In spring 2014, Canada Post will mark the 100th year anniversary of the Komagata Maru incident by issuing a commemorative stamp. The idea and request for a commemorative stamp of the Komagata Maru incident was a result of the efforts of Parm Gill, Member of Parliament for Brampton-Springdale, said Uppal.