The recent tension between India-Canada has had Indians staying in that country worried about their safety. An incident in London, Canada proves that these fears are not irrational. A group of about 7 Indians was targeted and the men among them thrashed brutally after a verbal altercation in a pub.
The parents of one of the girls in the group said the incident highlights the fact that in such situations, for parents in another country, navigating the legal or emergency systems of the country where the children are in need, is challenging.
Saniya and Manoj Shetty, residents of Kurla West, learnt later that even the police in Canada had not helped the Indian group lodge a complaint, instead, convincing them that suspects in such altercations were often released swiftly on bonds, and pursuing legal action would not guarantee justice.
An Indian from Mumbai who sustained an injury to his lips
“This assault not only carried racial motivations but also involved the hurling of racist slurs and anti-Indian sentiments by the assailants. Tragically, this incident unfolded against the backdrop of deteriorating relations between India and Canada,” said Saniya.
What was even worrying for the Shettys was that their daughter had called them in the middle of the attack in desperation, when no one around was ready to call the distress No. 911 to help them. “ ‘Mamma, they are hitting Sandeep (name changed), with a beer bottle. I am telling everyone to call 911, but no one is calling,’ said my daughter,” said Saniya.
“Thousands of miles away, we (parents) felt utterly helpless, unable to provide immediate support and assistance to our daughter, which only deepened our distress. Fortunately, the mothers of one of the victims was already in Canada at the time. However, even for her, being in a foreign land and having to cope with such a distressing scenario proved to be a challenging experience,” said Saniya, speaking about her daughter, Kajol’s (name changed) ordeal.
According to Saniya, “On September 29, Kajol, who is working in Canada, and her group of 7-10 friends gathered at The Ceeps, a popular nightclub in London, Canada to celebrate a cluster of birthdays. The celebration took a distressing turn when a minor disagreement between one of the group members and another boy in the club escalated unexpectedly. Tempers flared, and the situation quickly spiralled out of control, and the young Indians fell victim to a horrifying assault.”
“As parents who are living in another country, in situations like this, communication can be challenging as navigating foreign legal systems is overwhelming. In such a situation one can only hope that our children, despite the distance, find the strength to overcome such challenges,” said the parents.
Kajol wrote about the incident in an email to mid-day. She mentioned that all in her group were either on Permanent Residency or Work Permit in Canada, and were taking a well-deserved break on a Saturday night.
“A minor disagreement between one of our group and a random boy in the club escalated unexpectedly. Tempers flared, and the situation quickly spiraled out of control. They were asked to leave the pub by the bouncers,” Kajol alleged.
“Worried for the safety of the person thrown out, another member of our group followed him outside. Soon his brother and two more friends ventured outside. They were caught in the midst of a violent altercation. The opposing group was beating up our group. A person from our group was the target, suffering a blow to his face. His brother was struck on the head with a beer bottle and punched in the face. Two other individuals were also being beaten,” she wrote.
Kajol said she kept asking people to call 911, but no one did. She then called the number and the operator told her that an ambulance would take hours to arrive. But a woman soon stepped up to help and calling 911 once more, she adeptly used medical terminology. Kajol said after that in minutes, an ambulance came.
The following morning, the two brothers in the group approached the police. “Instead of support and empathy, they were met with discouragement. The police pointed out the challenges within the legal system, where suspects in such altercations were often released swiftly on bonds. According to the authorities, pursuing legal action in this case would likely result in frustration, consuming precious time, and energy without guaranteeing justice,” wrote Kajol.
“This disheartening response further deepened the wounds left by the incident. It highlighted not just the immediate threat posed by the attackers but the incident became a stark reminder of the complexities of seeking justice, even in a country known for its strong legal framework, leaving the victims and witnesses grappling with a profound sense of injustice and the harsh reality of the limitations of the system meant to protect them,” she wrote.
(Names of the victims and witness have been changed on the parents’ request)
When at night the incident took place in London, Canada