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Former BCFGA president charged
Kirpal Boparai, former president of the BC Fruit Growers' Association, was released on bail Tuesday after being charged Monday night with uttering threats and possessing a weapon for a dangerous purpose.
Karmjit Gill, an orchardist and board member of the B.C. Tree Fruits Cooperative, said he is scared for his life after an incident that took place on his East Kelowna Road property Monday.
According to Gill, a man called him Monday afternoon to ask why his orchard was not one of the hail-damaged properties toured by politicians last Saturday.
"I said: That's not my responsibility," said Gill.
Gill said the man then began to curse in Punjabi.
"He was saying: Where are you now? I want to kill you."
Gill was in another orchard at the time of the call, but indicated to the man he was at home.
A short time later, a pick-up truck arrived at Gill's residence and the following minutes were captured on Gill's home surveillance video.
On Tuesday, Gill showed Capital News the video footage.
After getting out of the truck, the man being filmed appeared to be irate. The video showed the man waving his arms erratically. Eventually, he picked up a shovel from his truck bed and walked a few steps before striking it on the ground.
Gill's son—who didn't want to be named—said he and his cousin were at the house at the time of the event; however, they were never threatened directly. Gill's son explained the man chose to focus his frustration toward Gill, telling Gill's son of his intention to kill his father.
The video showed neighbours arrive on the property, who were apparently curious about the commotion. Gill's son said he phoned the son of the angry man, asking him to come and calm down his father. When the son arrived he took the shovel away from his dad.
Minutes later, from a separate camera angle, the irate man can be seen getting into an RCMP cruiser.
According to Gill, the man phoned again from the police car, once again threatening to kill him.
Gill owns 10 orchards in the Kelowna region; he said he is concerned about his own safety while on any of those properties going forward.
"I want protection. I haven't been eating (since Monday) night. I can't eat anything today. I have a headache," Gill told Capital News Tuesday afternoon.
"Why am I getting the punishment without reason? It's not my fault."
Gill said he does not consider himself to be friends with the man who threatened him Monday.
"As growers we know each other; (we're) not friends."
Jeet Dukhia, current president of the BCFGA, said he had no knowledge of Monday's event, other than what he's seen in the media.
Although Gill indicated he helped organize the politicians' tour of the hail-damaged crops, Dukhia said that wasn't the case.
"I had given instruction to our general manager (Glen Lucas) to call (MLAs) Steve Thomson, Norm Letnick and (MP) Ron Cannan," said Dukhia.
Dukhia said there wasn't enough time available with the politicians to view every property that was damaged by hail Aug. 12.
"There were lots of people affected…there is so much damage."
The BCFGA president said more than 20 growers likely had severe damage to their crops.,
"The (politicians) saw three properties—they got the message that it was a disaster. We couldn't go to each individual orchard."
Boparai, 52, was Capital News' 2012 Newsmaker of the Year.
In September 2012, the Okanagan Tree Fruit Co-operative expelled Boparai for failing to live up to the terms of his contract and shipping his apples to an independent packer instead of the co-op he was a member of.
Last December, Boparai, the BCFGA's first East Indian president, resigned from the top post after serving less than a year as president.
"I came to make change. Sometimes my aggressive approach was not popular, but it needed to be done," Boparai told Capital News in December 2012.
He was released on bail Tuesday, with several conditions that include no contacting Karmjit or Avineet Gill, no consuming alcohol or illegal drugs and no possessing weapons.
Boparai is expected to be back in court Tuesday, Aug. 27.