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Indian-origin journalist alleges assault in Canada

The incident occurred during the Punjabi National Mela in the city on August 19. The journalist, Kumar Sharma, who hosts a radio show devoted to politics, alleged he was assaulted by a group of seven persons who he claimed were supporters of Hardyal Singh Happy Mann

world Updated: Aug 29, 2018 17:04 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Hindustan Times, Toronto
Canada,Assault on journalist,Attacks on journalists
Representative Image(AFP Photo)

Police in Calgary, Alberta, are investigating an alleged assault on an Indo-Canadian journalist by supporters of a candidate vying for a ticket to contest provincial assembly elections due next year.

The incident occurred during the Punjabi National Mela in the city on August 19. The journalist, Kumar Sharma, who hosts a radio show devoted to politics, alleged he was assaulted by a group of seven persons who he claimed were supporters of Hardyal Singh Happy Mann. Mann is among the candidates seeking the United Conservative Party (UCP) nomination for the assembly elections next year.

During a press conference, Sharma, who has worked as a journalist since 1995, said his alleged attackers were irate over a Facebook post that criticised their candidate. He said they threatened him with “dire consequences”.

“The situation became so tense that I feared for my safety. Because of that, I deleted the Facebook post right on the spot,” he said. As he was about the leave the venue where the open air concert or mela was being held, he was “viciously attacked” by the men. He was treated by paramedics and spent the next week recuperating at home.

“This has had a very severe impact on my health, on my emotional well-being and on my family,” he said.

The press conference was hosted by Conservative MP Deepak Obhrai, who represents Calgary Forest Lawn in the Canadian House of Commons. Expressing his distress over the alleged assault, Obhrai said, “When influential people like US President Donald Trump say journalists are enemies of the people, this creates a poisonous atmosphere towards journalism. The vicious attack on Mr Kumar Sharma is political violence towards a journalist. This is not only an attack on our freedom of speech, but on our democratic principles as well.”

According to national broadcaster CBC, Mann has condemned violence of any sort. In a statement, he said, “I wish Mr Sharma a full and fast recovery. However, I am very shocked and surprised to see Mr Sharma and his team to falsely accuse me of being involved in this incident.”

Meanwhile, in a release, the UCP expressed the hope that “Calgary Police quickly brings the perpetrators to justice”. The statement also said the UCP was “aware of the allegations linking the event to an aspiring nomination contestant” and stressed that “any individuals using violence such as this are not welcome in our party”.

First Published: Aug 29, 2018 08:34 IST