BY RATTAN MALL
IN 2009, Abbotsford got the dubious honour of being declared the homicide capital of Canada.
But in 2011, it could boast of ZERO homicides!
However, with the two predominantly South Asian groups still going at each other, it appears that Abbotsford could be headed the 2009 way again with some eight homicides already.
Four of them have been – no surprise here – South Asians. And very young at that.
The two factions that have been in conflict for the past few years are predominantly South Asian.
This year’s South Asian homicide victims so far:
* Sehajdeep Sidhu, 18 – August 31: He did not have a criminal record, but was known to police.
* Jaspreet Sidhu, 18 – August 4: He was known to police and affiliated with gang activity.
* Jaskarn Lally, 20 – March 24: He was known to police and was associated to local gangs.
* Satkar Sidhu, 23 – February 20: He did not have a criminal record, but was known to police.
Also, on January 11, Navdeep Sidhu, 24 and Harman Mangat, 22, both B.C. residents, were found shot to death in Southeast Edmonton and spokespersons for both Abbotsford Police and CFSEU-BC confirmed to the media at the time that they were connected to the Abbotsford conflict. Detectives believed that these drug-related murders were connected with drug activity in B.C.’s Lower Mainland.
Abbotsford Police Constable Ian MacDonald, who, like Police Chief Bob Rich, has been very forthright with the media, told The VOICE: “2017 to me felt a lot like 2009 … I just had that feeling … there was something that was either brewing that could have that potential or there was something that just felt like that.”
But then, he pointed out: “2010 was a bit like come-back-to-normal year and in 2011, we had zero homicide.”
There have been ebbs and flows in gang violence in the Lower Mainland.
VOICE readers know that Abbotsford Police have left no stone unturned in their efforts to reach out to South Asian families, but a few just don’t seem to want to cooperate.
I asked MacDonald about the frustration that those officers must be experiencing. He replied: “It’s not just frustration from the policing standpoint; it’s the frustration of ‘there’s a life that was lost – it didn’t have to be.”
He added: “The members that do the work they are doing have to be pretty thick-skinned – like you are not going to win every battle, every day is not going to go the way that you want it to go. And so, if you weren’t cut out for it, you wouldn’t be in the gig that you are in.”
I asked MacDonald if any other gangs besides the two South Asian ones in Abbotsford had got involved in this conflict.
He replied: “That’s really hard to say because we would really need some of these gang-involved people to step up and tell us that there are other influences and we can’t even get them to tell us who shot them. So to get them to give us the background of all the influences over the conflict – good luck!”
The only time that these gang members seem to ‘cooperate’ is when they phone police because someone has gone to their home to attack them or kill them.
Then, as MacDonald pointed out: “Once we show up and the bad guys are either gone or have been scared away – or sometimes even after we take them into custody – all of a sudden there isn’t a home invasion anymore! Everything is going to be handled by themselves because now there is no imminent threat.”