Editor brutally beaten at gunpoint
Punjabi Post chief mystified after kidnap attempt in which masked men said nothing but 'kill him'
Punjabi editor Jagdish Grewal was attacked by three men outside his office on Friday.DAVID COOPER/TORONTO STAR
He was viciously punched, kicked and held at gunpoint, but three days after the violent incident, Jagdish Grewal still doesn't know why.
"They didn't say anything, just punched me hard ... and tried to drag me to their car," Grewal, editor of Punjabi Post, said Monday.
He says the attack and attempted abduction could be linked to his strong anti-extremist views or because his newspaper has led a crusade against the widespread consumption of dode, poppy powder, openly available at some meat shops in Peel Region.
But Grewal, a father of three, said it doesn't have anything to do with the money he owes. "I have some loans, yes, but I owe money to friends and family and I know the attack had nothing to do with it." He said he owed less than $100,000.
Grewal was leaving his office on Sun Pac Blvd. in Brampton at about 11:40 p.m. when three men, in black clothes and sporting face masks, ran towards him. The journalist, who says one of the men had a baton and another a gun, scrambled to get inside his van. He locked himself in and briefly honked to alert employees in the newsroom. But the men smashed a window and dragged him outside.
"They were punching, kicking and dragging me to a van parked about five spots away," said Grewal, who still had a swollen lip and a backache on Monday. The three men, one of whom had a long beard, tried to lift Grewal by his legs and arms.
"But when they saw an employee at the door, one of them screamed in Punjabi: `Kill him. Kill him,'" said Grewal. But seconds later, they fled. When an employee found him, Grewal was bleeding from the mouth, had bruises all over and his turban lay unravelled next to him.
On Monday, he was still shaken as members of Toronto's Punjabi community visited him at his north Etobicoke home.
Grewal, who does not support the Khalistan movement – a separatist movement to create a Sikh state within India's northern province of Punjab – said he received some "strange but not threatening phone calls" when he interviewed a visiting Sikh journalist on his radio show.
Jarnail Singh threw his shoe at India's home minister to protest that government's non-action against those responsible for anti-Sikh riots. On the radio show three weeks ago, Grewal said hurling a shoe wasn't the right thing to do. Singh also agreed.
Balraj Deol, of Khabarnama, another Punjabi newspaper in Peel Region, said Punjabi journalists are worried about their safety now. "To me, it's clearly an effort to muzzle the liberal (Punjabi) press."