Gurpreet Singh: Punjabi photographer risked his life trying to save Ravinder Kaur Bhangu
The Indo Canadian community came under the microscope once again following the July 28 brutal murder of a woman in Surrey. But what hasn't gotten nearly as much recognition is how a Punjabi press photographer—in a daredevil act—risked his life by trying to save the victim from the fatal stabbing.
Narinder Nayar also got injured while attempting to overpower the assailant, who walked into the office of Sach Di Awaaz, a Punjabi news weekly, and stabbed Ravinder Kaur Bhangu to death.
Her estranged husband, Manmeet Singh, has been charged in connection with the incident. Since the setting of the murder was inside the predominantly Punjabi community and both the victim and the suspect were of Punjabi descent, the latest act of violence has brought the community under the spotlight for the wrong reasons.
A spate of murders of Punjabi women in the Greater Vancouver area in the past has created a sensation on several occasions. This has left many outside the Indo Canadian community wondering whether violence against women is too common in the male-dominated Punjabi society.
However, Nayar—who received injuries while trying to grapple with an attacker reportedly armed with sharp-edged weapons—has set a good example.
The publishers of Sach Di Awaaz have not been very forthcoming about the details of the event because of legal reasons. But they have revealed that Nayar tried to save the deceased. The photographer is not returning calls or talking to the media at this time.
A short and an average-looking man, Nayer not only deserves appreciation for his bravery, but can also become a role model for others to stand up instead of being mute spectators.
His action has shamed those within the Indo Canadian community who not only mistreat women, but often try to rationalize violence against females. They include a handful of Punjabi media commentators, who have tried to find fault with the women following such incidents.
In fact, a Punjabi radio commentary following Bhangu's murder that tried to put the blame on women for provoking males stirred an angry reaction from Sach Di Awaaz.
The mainstream should also take into consideration the positive role played by progressive and open-minded males within the Indo Canadian community, instead of painting all Indo Canadian men with one brush.
Liberal males in Punjabi society strongly denounce violence against women and respect gender equality. Their activities generally evoke little interest in the mainstream media because bloody stories sell more than the positive stories.
Gurpreet Singh is a Georgia Straight contributor, and the host of a program on Radio India. He's working on a book tentatively titled Canada's 9/11: Lessons from the Air India Bombings.