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NRI racially abused in Canada

india Updated: Nov 30, 2006 18:32 IST
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A lawyer representing an Indo-Canadian police official, who has filed racial discrimination charges against the police department, has accused a senior Canadian police officer with interfering in the case.

Toronto lawyer Peter Thorning has said that police superintendent Kevin Chalk of the city of Waterloo, in southwestern Ontario, had sent e-mails to police officers in connection with the racial discrimination charges that his client, constable Rajiv Sharma, had brought against the police department.

A report in The Record, a local newspaper, quoted Thorning as saying that the e-mails have undermined his client's ability to defend himself.

In November 2004, Sharma, an 18-year-old veteran in the police force, had filed a complaint with the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) alleging that he was a victim of persistent harassment and discrimination since 1992 within the force in Kitchener where he was posted.

Asians, mostly Indo-Canadians, comprise less than three percent of Kitchener's population of over 400,000.

In February 2004, Sharma was charged with neglect of duty, discreditable conduct, insubordination, corrupt practices and engaging in secondary activities.

Secondary activities refer to a person holding a second job. The charges against Sharma stem from his alleged involvement with a private security firm, according to the Record.

In his complaint to the OHRC, Sharma accused a number of senior officers of discouraging other officers from working and socialising with him.

"I believe that not only are racial minority citizens profiled, but racial minority police officers are also subjected to this impermissible conduct," Sharma was quoted as stating in his nine-page complaint.

Speaking to the Record, Thorning said that he was starting to interview Sharma's fellow officers when the first of Chalk's two e-mails was sent.

"I am not saying he (Chalk) is obstructing justice," Thorning said. "But he is obstructing a legal procedure. He has put up barriers to the finding of truth."

The lawyer has lodged a complaint with the police force, the Waterloo regional police board and the Ontario Civilian Commission on Police Services, which oversees policing in Ontario.

Sharma, who is currently on sick leave, is scheduled to appear for a disciplinary hearing on Jan 29.

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