February 6, 2009 11:53:41 pm
Gagandeep Singh,a 21-year-old Sikh student,was assaulted by the securitymen at the Air Canada Centre and then arrested by police at a Toronto Raptors game last Friday.
Now,US-based NGO United Sikhs attorneys are seeking dismissal of the citations issued by the police,and are writing to Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Limited.
The owners of the Air Canada Centre have
been warned of a legal recourse if swift action is not taken.
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Sources said the incident occurred when Gagandeep,an avid Toronto Raptors fan,entered a washroom after a post-basketball event on January 30. As he approached an empty stall,a security officer accosted Gagandeep and told him that he had to leave. When Gagandeep asked for reasons,the security officer became aggressive and pushed Gagandeep,warning him,You dont want to mess with me.
As the situation escalated,four to five other security officers became involved and dragged Gagandeep from the washroom,at which his turban was also knocked off.
He was then brought to the police,who put him in a choke-hold,handcuffed him,and charged him with trespass and engaging in prohibited activity.
Gagandeep had attended the event as a birthday present from his sister Simran Kaur,who also met Gagandeep in police custody.
Gagandeep did not commit any offence. He vehemently maintains his innocence,and as his defence counsel I will vigorously defend him against these false allegations. Gagandeep and Simran were ticket-paying fans of the Raptors. They were both fully entitled to attend the game and other related events, said Jagmeet Singh of Dhaliwal Law,a criminal defence lawyer who is representing Gagandeep.
Jagmeet added,The security guards and police officers had no legal justification to apply any force whatsoever to Gagandeep. In doing so,they committed an assault on his person. The actions of both the security guards and police were reprehensible and unjustified.
Gagandeep had bruised and swollen wrists after police handcuffing,and scratched hands too. He said,Im outraged by the way I was treated by the securitymen. Not only did they have the audacity to single me out because of my appearance,but then the police charged me with trespass when I didnt do anything wrong and was entitled to be there.
United Sikhs Community Affairs Coordinator Ranbir Singh said,Sikhs should be able to live in dignity and with respect in Toronto,which is one of the most diverse cities in the world. We do not know of any reason the security guard could have to ask Gagandeep to leave the washroom. The guards actions appear to be racially biased.
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