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Surrey RED FM Run raised money for the education and prevention of domestic violence, September 3, 2007. Surrey, BC. (Laura Leyshon/ The Globe and Mail/Laura Leyshon/ The Globe and Mail)
Surrey RED FM Run raised money for the education and prevention of domestic violence, September 3, 2007. Surrey, BC. (Laura Leyshon/ The Globe and Mail/Laura Leyshon/ The Globe and Mail)

Punjabi radio host rejects charges he fanned flames of domestic violence Add to ...

The host of a popular Punjabi-language radio show is dismissing charges he exacerbated the problem of domestic violence with an inflammatory discussion of the issue one day after the savage slaying of Ravinder Bhangu, allegedly by her husband.

“This complaint is hogwash,” Harjinder Thind said Tuesday, after the Surrey Women’s Centre announced that it intends to file a complaint with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission over Mr. Thind’s treatment of the topic.

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“I think these people have a total misconception. We are not against women. We condemn any violence against women. It seems that whoever touches this issue, these kinds of groups go after them.”

Women’s Centre spokeswoman Corrine Arthur accused Mr. Thind and some respondents to his call-in show of raising the matter of increased rights for women as a possible factor in incidents of domestic violence.

“To actually base a segment of his show on the question of women having too many rights is inflammatory,” Ms. Arthur said. “We think that is putting women at risk and is worthy of a complaint to the CRTC.”

Ms. Arthur, who does not speak Punjabi, said the Women’s Centre is basing its criticism on reports from South Asian staff members who heard the program. “They were completely appalled.”

Mr. Thind’s call-in show on Red-FM aired the issue July 29, after Ms. Bhangu was attacked with a cleaver before horrified co-workers in the office of a local newspaper where she worked.

Ms. Bhangu’s husband, Manmeet Singh, is charged with first-degree murder, aggravated assault and assault with a weapon.

Mr. Thind said accusations by the Women’s Centre are based on a misconception. Last month’s controversial program was merely the first of a series of shows on domestic violence and how it can be stamped out, he said. The title of the series is “Save Our Daughters”.

On Tuesday, he invited a number of professionals to discuss the topic. Coming shows will involve police, victim services and politicians, according to Mr. Thind.

The first program, he said, was designed to hear from listeners.

“Yes, some callers expressed their opinions, but those are the raw thoughts of the community, so their views can then be explored and dissected.

“We decided to tackle this, and start a campaign against domestic violence,” Mr. Thind said. “Our series is still going on. The Women’s Centre has jumped the gun.”

He pointed out that Red-FM has been a strong campaigner against domestic violence, raising significant sums of money within the South Asian community to raise awareness about the problem.

Ms. Arthur acknowledged the station’s positive role in the past.

“They have actually been very supportive. That’s why it’s quite surprising for Mr. Thind to be so contrary, when he could be a fantastic [advocate]to effect change.”

Follow on Twitter: @rodmickleburgh

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