Indian radio station ordered to pay defamation damages


Vancouver : A prominent Indian radio station owner, who was targeted in a drive-by shooting in the Indian-dominated suburb of Surrey in September, has been ordered to pay damages in a defamation case.

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Maninder Gill, 47, who owns the popular Radio India, and some of his staff have been ordered by the provincial British Columbia supreme court to pay damages to Harjit Atwal and two others for broadcasting a “defamatory” programme against them earlier this year.

Atwal, along with Jaspal Atwal and Harkirat Kular, had filed a defamation lawsuit against Radio India in August for broadcasting a five-minute programme which made derogatory remarks about their families and their alleged links to Khalistanis. This bitterness led to radio station owner Gill shooting and seriously injuring Atwal at a gurdwara within weeks. For this, he now faces charges with illegal possession and use of a firearm.

In retaliation, the Radio India owner himself was targeted in a drive-by shooting in his home when assailants fired 10 shots into his living room just after midnight in mid-September.

One of the radio’s talk-show hosts also received a death threat, with warnings that he (talk-show host) was a traitor
to Sikhs.

The radio owner is likely to move court to against the defamation verdict.

The Indo-Canadian community here has seen some high- profile cases of violence over the years.

Since the area was the hotbed of Khalistani militancy outside of India in the 1980s and 1990s, some top Indo-Canadian leaders like Ujjal Dosanjh were targeted for their moderate views. Later, prominent Indo-Canadian journalist Tara Singh Hayer, who was about to testify in the Air India, was first paralyzed and later killed in 1998 allegedly by Khalistani militants.

Most of the Indo-Canadian community here is concentrated in the suburban city of Surrey which has a population of more than 400,000.