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HindustanTimes Sun,26 Oct 2014

Sikh clergy should look hard at itself over sentencing of priest

Vancouverdesi.com  Vancouver, October 21, 2013
First Published: 15:30 IST(21/10/2013) | Last Updated: 15:33 IST(21/10/2013)

A visiting Sikh priest from India has been sentenced to prison after being convicted of sexual assault and sexual interference stemming from an incident involving a 13-year-old Abbotsford girl.

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Ajai Singh, the son of former Akal Takht chief, will now serve 90 days in jail, followed by 18 months probation. He was visiting Canada earlier this year when the incident was first reported to police on February 9.

The 38-year-old was charged in February this year on two counts; sexual assault and sexual interference with a girl under the age of 16.

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Singh was a hymn singer with the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the highest religious body of the Sikhs. After news of the charges surfaced, the SGPC suspended Singh.

Last week, an Abbotsford judge sentenced Singh to jail. After serving his sentence in Canada, he will be deported.

The victim’s family told Vancouver Desi, on condition of anonymity, that they are satisfied with the verdict, although they wished for a longer sentence.

“Ninety days is not enough. I wanted to see at least one year,” said a male family member of the victim.

However, the man did say his family was relieved to hear the bittersweet news.

“We are dealing with it. It’s been very hard,” he said. “Finally, the judge has made a good decision.”

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