BY RATTAN MALL
HARJIT Singh Gill, Sher-e-Punjab talk show host, told The VOICE this week that he wants to press charges against a kabaddi player who he claims assaulted him at the radio station last week.
The incident followed Gill’s talk shows on a story about a kabaddi player from India who allegedly didn’t get proper medical attention after breaking a bone in the final match between Vancouver Kabaddi Club and Azab Kabaddi Club the weekend before last at a tournament in Surrey.
Ajit Singh Badh, CEO of Sher-E-Punjab Radio, told The VOICE that “the Vancouver’s kabaddi sponsor said some wrong information had been given on the radio” and he told him to come over to talk it over.
Badh said that six people turned up and “one of them started abusing. Police are investigating. The person took off Harjit’s turban.”
(The VOICE will only mention the name of the kabaddi player who allegedly assaulted Gill if and when he is formally charged.)
Richmond RCMP Cpl. Stephanie Ashton told The VOICE that police had taken statements from both Gill and Badh. The officer handling the case was to follow up with them and see what they want to do.
She explained that in these circumstances it is up to the complainant as to whether they want to go any farther than just have it reported.
She added that based on the reports, it looks like there are grounds for police to do something. However, nobody was hurt.
Gill told The VOICE: “I already asked them to press the charges. I need them to charge them. They attacked the media. That’s what it is.”
THE VOICE will present you both sides of the story – Gill’s version and that of former Khalsa Diwan Society (Vancouver) president Kashmir Singh Dhaliwal, who told me that he belongs to the Vancouver Kabaddi Club and was one of the six who had gone over to Radio Sher-e-Punjab.
Gill told The VOICE that the injured man from India – Dulla – was the star player for the Vancouver Kabaddi Club. He said that he was present at the match and witnessed what took place.
Gill alleged that after Dulla’s bone was fractured (around the ankle area), the player “was screaming … and after two hours the ambulance showed up … They were all absorbed in the game while nobody took care of the player.”
Gill alleged that the “organizer of Vancouver Kabaddi Club Gian Binning” went to the hospital only at 10:30 p.m.
Gill said the doctor told them that Dulla was on a player’s visa and it would cost them $15,000 to 18,000 for an operation. [ EDITOR’S NOTE: Harjit emailed to clarify that he had said “15 to 18,000” and not “50 to 80,000.” the misunderstanding was because of the pronunciation where the “teen” part is not emphasized enough.]
The club’s management allegedly told the doctor that they would let him know the next morning. The doctor said Dulla needed immediate surgery. The management took Dulla to a hospital specialist the next day and were reportedly told that they would have to pay up before any surgery could be performed.
Gill said Dulla is from a very poor family in India and the player was afraid that they would deduct the cost of the surgery from his contract money. So the management allegedly suggested that he get his surgery performed in India.
Gill said last week on Monday he gave the news about the player on his radio program and commented that “it is very unfortunate what we did to a superstar player. … I didn’t mention any names; I only said the Vancouver Kabaddi Club must do the surgery and all the people are so angry.”
He said that the club sent Dulla back to India and arranged two more seats for him so he could go back laying down.
Gill said Dulla had surgery done last week on Friday morning.
Gill told The VOICE that he spoke to Dulla’s grandfather this week and he told him that the doctor said Dulla could have died because of blood-clotting. The doctor said that he could give no guarantee that Dulla would be able to play kabaddi again.
Gill said the grandfather said that he had heard Canadians were so compassionate that they could not even bear to see an animal dying on the road and his kid was screaming in pain for two days and nobody seemed to care.
Gill said he spoke about Dulla’s injury on his show last week on Monday and Tuesday and the Vancouver club management started phoning the studio on Wednesday saying they wanted to meet him.
Gill said the club’s Gian Binning said he wanted to talk to him to clarify his side. He asked them why they didn’t respond during his show on Monday and Tuesday when “the lines were open.”
He said six people turned up at the radio station on Friday last week and they included Kashmir Singh Dhaliwal.
Gill alleged that while Binning was talking to him, the kabaddi player who belongs to another kabaddi club “started the nonsense with me.” He alleged: “That’s why they were here – they wanted to attack me and insult me.”
He said he told them that he didn’t have their phone numbers to contact them for their side of the story and they should have “come on the open lines” during the talk shows.
He alleged: “They were trying to pressure me that I wouldn’t give any negative news in the future.” And added: “It’s totally an attack on the media. That’s what the police officer’s saying.”
Gill claimed that he was talking to the kabaddi club’s president when the kabaddi player started talking “nonsense” and he told him that he was not supposed to talk because he did not even belong to the Vancouver club. Gill then got up to leave, saying, “I am not going to talk to you.” That’s when the kabaddi player allegedly pushed him against the wall.
Gill said: “Gian Vinning said he`s coming alone but he brought another five people only to assault me. … They wanted to use their power to shut me up – nothing else, nothing else. I was fighting for the poor guy (who) is not known to me.”
THE VOICE phoned Kashmir Singh Dhaliwal for his club’s version. Dhaliwal, who was very cooperative, also suggested after the interview that I speak to Binning as well because Dhaliwal himself was not present at the kabaddi match. I called up the cell number that Dhaliwal gave me several times over two days, but Binning didn’t get back to me. I even called Dhaliwal again to verify the number he gave me and he confirmed that it was the right one.
(Incidentally, all the interviews were tape-recorded, including the phonecalls at Bining’s number.)
Dhaliwal told me that Binning arranged a meeting with Badh for the club because they wanted to “clarify” matters. He said although Harjit Gill said that Dulla did not receive any help, they had all the medical receipts to prove that he did get help: there is a hospital receipt for $1,200, another for the specialist for $300.
Dhaliwal said the specialist said the player requires surgery, but that if it was performed here it would be five times more expensive than it would be in India, so it was “best” if he got his surgery done in India.
Dhaliwal said that he wasn’t present there, but Binning and another person were and he learned of this from them.
Dhaliwal claimed that the two asked the player what he wanted to do and he reportedly said: “I will get it done in India.”
Dhaliwal added that Bining and the other person told the player that they would pay for all the surgery expenses in India. “They paid all the expenses for him here. We bought him a ticket [for the flight to India] and we have a copy of the ticket,” added Dhaliwal.
Dhaliwal said the kabaddi player from another club brought up the topic of the ticket and he and Gill “had an argument and we intervened and separated them.”
Dhaliwal at first told me: “There was some pushing and shoving, but there was no major matter.” But when I pointed out to Dhaliwal that pushing was assault, he said: “Nobody pushed anyone. They were trying to do that but people intervened and separated them.”
I asked him if the kabaddi player touched Gill and Dhaliwal replied: “No … they were trying, but the others prevented them from touching each other.”
Dhaliwal said an ambulance came to the place “within half hour and took him to hospital and they did whatever had to be done.”
Dhaliwal said that what he told me was what he had heard from the club management because he was busy with the gurdwara election matters.
(But Binning didn’t return my repeated calls).