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No charges 1 year after Kelowna bus stop attack on Sikh student

A Sikh international student was attacked after exiting a transit bus with groceries
Gagandeep Singh, 21, surrounded by friends after being attacked at a bus stop in Kelowna on March 17,2023. (GoFundMe)

It has been nearly one year since a Sikh international student was attacked at a Kelowna bus stop and still no charges have been laid.

On March 17, 2023, Gagandeep Singh exited a public transit bus at the McCurdy Road stop along Highway 97. Shortly after stepping off the bus, the young man was allegedly assaulted, had his turban ripped off, and was dragged by his hair before the suspects took off.

READ MORE: ‘Investigate attack on international student as a hate crime’: Kelowna Sikh community

A member of the Kelowna Sikh community and now a friend of Singh, Manik Dhir, told Black Press Media he’s disappointed the suspects have yet to face any consequences.

Dhir met Singh the day after the attack and the two have since formed a bond.

“He couldn’t talk,” Dhir said about their first meeting. “He was so caught off guard by the whole incident that he could not realize what had happened. You come to Canada hoping and praying for a better life, right… No one imagines a barbaric act like this to be carried out - especially in public transportation.”

The victim has since moved to Alberta and continues to fear using public transit to get around.

Speaking to the lack of charges Dhir said, “Does that mean that we are motivating these attacks or the attackers and sending out a message to them that says ‘Hey listen, it doesn’t matter what you do or how you harm the civilians that are going about doing their day-to-day life activities it’s OK because guess what? You’re going to get away with it.’ In my mind, that’s the message we’re sending them.”

In a statement sent to Black Press, Singh wrote, “I am overcome with frustration and profound disappointment and it pains me to share that no charges have been laid in connection with the heinous attack I endured. I was viciously assaulted while simply making my way home after a routine grocery trip. What cuts deepest is the act of having my turban forcibly removed and being dragged by my hair. The turban is a key article of my faith, not only was it desecrated but also dishonored, striking at the very core of my Sikh identity.”

Kelowna RCMP confirmed they did recommend charges to Crown counsel, however, charges haven’t been laid. In an email statement the RCMP wrote, “As far as our relationship with the Sikh community, we are very involved with all of our incredible communities in town. In speaking to just the Sikh community specifically our teams often speak at the Sikh Temple, participate in the Vaisakhi Parade, as well as the East Meet’s West dinner. Our teams have an open line of communication with councillor Mohini Singh and have proactively engaged with her on various events.”

Board chair of East Meet’s West and Kelowna City Councillor Mohini Singh spoke on the matter as a frustrated community member.

She praised the RCMP for their diligent work on the case and recommending charges to the Crown. Mohini also noted that she is in contact with Singh and he’s continuing with life in Alberta. Despite the attack, Mohini added that Singh remembers well the support the Kelowna community and others across B.C. showed him, and the donations that poured into the GoFundMe from across the country.

“He wants everyone to know he’s doing well, he’s getting on with his life, and he is trying to put things behind him and move forward.”

Crown counsel explained to Black Press Media that a prosecutor reviewed documentation of the case and found that the charge assessment standard was not met, therefore charges were not pursued.

“Under the charge assessment guidelines, charges will only be approved where Crown counsel is satisfied that the evidence gathered by the investigative agency provides a substantial likelihood of conviction and, if so, that the public interest requires a prosecution. A substantial likelihood of conviction exists where Crown counsel is satisfied there is a strong, solid case of substance to present to the court.”

READ MORE: Teen allegedly assaulted at same Kelowna bus stop as international student

READ MORE: Kelowna youth arrested in relation to attack on Sikh teen at bus stop

Brittany Webster

About the Author: Brittany Webster

I am a video journalist based in Kelowna and capturing life in the Okanagan
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