SURREY: B.C: A 17 year old male has been charged with attempted murder following the shooting Friday of newspaper editor Tara Singh Hayer in his Surrey office.
The youth, who cannot be identified because of his age, was being held in custody pending his appearance in Surrey family court on Monday an RCMP spokesman said.
Hayer 52 the controversial editor of the Indo Canadian Times B.C’s largest Punjabi newspaper with a circulation of 15,000 was seriously injured by a gunman who fired six shots at him at about 12:35 p.m., Friday.
He was in stable condition today at Royal Columbian Hospital after several hours of surgery Friday night and is under police protection. The attack on Mr. Hayer has been condemned by Sikh Organisations. S. Gian Singh Sandhu, President WSO (International) called it a “dastardly crime” and a dangerous omen for the democratic institutions. S. Gurcharan Singh Dhillon WSO (USA) President described the attack as most reprehensible.
The attack on Hayer came less than a week after a columnist on his paper was severely beaten by unknown assailant at his home and just days after a report from London, England, said he was one of three men targeted for a $50,000 contract killing.
In an interview with The Vancouver Sun before he was shot, Hayer denied there was a contract out on him.
While he is sympathetic to the notion of a separate Sikh nation called Khalistan, Hayer has been extremely critical of such groups as Babbar Khalsa led’ by Vancouver resident Talwinder Singh Parmar and the International Sikh Youth Federation for their Separatist tactics.
Hardev Singh Waraich Indo Canadian Times columnist and a Close friend of Hayer have stitches over his right eye after an assailant clubbed him with a Kirpan at his home last Saturday.
Waraich thinks the attack on him’ was related to a series of articles he wrote critical of a newspaper published locally by the International Sikh Youth Federation.
And he speculated that the attack was related to the Hayer shooting.
“First am attacked and then all of a sudden my best friend is attacked,” Wariach said.
Haver’s son Sandeep said Friday his father’s assailant waited quite sometime in the newspaper’s Reception area while Hayer was in his office in the rear of the building.
When Hayer entered the reception area, he said, the man jumped up from where he was seated, moved’ toward the door, pulled out a handgun and fired six times.
He said three bullets struck Hayer in the arm, leg and back while three missed and thudded into a wall.
“I feel just sick about this,” said Sunjit Madhopuri who works for Hayer and pursued the gunmen until he was caught two blocks away with the help of a passerby.
“The man was sitting there for quite some time,” he said. “We hope Tara Singh will be all right.”
In his newspaper articles, Hayer ‘was especially critical of Babbar Khalsa and the ISYF. A month ago he expressed his frustration to a Vancouver Sun reporter about the hostilities the two groups have against him.
“They don’t understand that as journalists have to write critical stories,” he said.
ISYF spokesman Jagdeep Singh Sanghera said his group condemned the shooting.
“We had nothing to do with it we don’t agree with Mr. Hayer’s coverage towards the Sikhs, but he had many enemies. We don’t condone such activities.” Sanghera said.
Babbar Khalsa spokesman Ajaib Singh Khalsa (who changed his surname from Bagri’ this month) said in Kamloops ‘he was surprised to hear Hayer had been shot.
Indian Consul General Jagdish Sharma said the community is upset about the shooting.
“He has been writing a lot against the government of India and in support of Khalistan and personally a lot against me, but we certainly feel this is most incorrect and not the way to deal with things in a civilized country,” Sharma said.
Vancouver restaurateur Manmohan Singh a former ISYF spokesman who also wrote for Hayer’s paper said he too, has been threatened for articles he has written.
Meanwhile the judge has banned the public, including the media, from family court appearance of a 17 year old youth charged with the attempted murder of Mr. Hayer.
Judge Norman Collingwood issued the ban under a little used section of the Young Offenders Act.
The Act allows judges to ban spectators from a court if they believe that evidence would be injurious or prejudicial to the accused. The same section permits a ban in the “interest of public morals, the maintenance of order or the proper administration of justice.”
Spectators searched Collingwood also prohibited publication of evidence presented during any of the youth’s appearances. The youth cannot be identified because he is a juvenile.
The judge imposed the ban on publication of evidence at the request of defense lawyer Jeffrey Ray with no object in from Crown counsel Wendy Dawson.
The teen was remanded in custody until tomorrow.
At yesterday’s court appearance, 30 spectators, including reporters and members of the victim’s family were thoroughly searched before entering the courtroom. All three entrances to the courthouse were guarded and police stopped cars from entering the parking lot.
The Metro spokesman for the separatist Khalistan National Council Darshan Singh Saini said in an interview that police warned the teenager to leave Vancouver at least three months before he was charged with the shooting.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police suspected the younger Sikh refugee was involved in a plot to kill Hayer Saini told reporters.
Hayer’s family says the Editor was the target of an assassination plot because he opposes extremist groups accused of using violence to win independence for India’s Punjab State.
The 17 year old Sikh missed an immigration hearing in Toronto the day Hayer was shot.
The teen entered Canada as a refugee on a flight from London, England to Pearson International Airport in early March.
The RCMP refused to comment on Saini’s claim.