The discussion, which was attended by B.C. Conservative leader John Rustad and 50 business owners, many of them of Indian origin, underlined the urgent need for increased police vigil to prevent potential violence.
The businessmen, some of them jewellers, said such calls have intensified in the last three months. A community member said some affected businessmen have even left the country temporarily.
Gunshots were fired at the house of Punjabi singer Karan Aujla in Surrey last year. Aujla has reportedly shifted his base to Dubai now.
The Delhi Police’s Special Cell has indicated that the shooting incident outside Punjabi singer Gippy Grewal’s residence in Canada might be linked to an extortion attempt. The incident, which occurred in the White Rock neighborhood of Vancouver on November 25, was initially claimed by the Lawrence Bishnoi gang.
An online account under the name ‘Lawrence Bishnoi’ on Facebook declared the gang’s involvement in the orchestrated attack. It said, “While you may regard Salman Khan as a brother, it is now imperative for your ‘brother’ to step in and rescue you. This message extends to Salman Khan as well – do not harbour the illusion that Dawood or anyone can save you from us.” Later, Gippy denied any association with Salman Khan, saying they were merely present at a function.
“It’s a big mess that must be handled on priority by both the Canadian and the Indian government,” said Maninder Gill, a Surrey-based broadcaster who heads the Friends of India Foundation.
Law enforcement agencies in both Surrey and Abbotsford have refrained from directly linking the series of unsolved shootings outside homes to the extortion mafia targeting South Asian businesses.
Global News has obtained one of the letters sent to businesses, purportedly from an “Indian gang.” The letter reads: “We want your share from your business like protection money. We are asking only two million. We have links all over. Do not ignore us. It will affect you real bad.”
In late November, Surrey RCMP and Abbotsford Police separately issued warnings to businesses regarding attempted extortions aimed at business owners. Postmedia said Corporal Sarbjit Sangha of Surrey RCMP emphasised the necessity of filing police reports for effective investigation.
Surrey Centre MP Randeep Sarai said such extortion attempts were very worrying and the affected people must report these incidents to the police.
In response to these developments, B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth issued a statement urging victims to step forward and highlighted ongoing provincial initiatives targeting organised crime. He condemned violence and intimidation, asserting that such acts have no place in British Columbia.
In its chargesheet filed in July, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had said that Arshdeep Singh, aka Arsh Dalla, who fled from Punjab to Canada in 2018, had set up a “terrorist gang” which indulged in extortion among other criminal activities.
Police sources suggest an escalating conflict between Canada-based designated terrorist Arsh Dalla and Lawrence Bishnoi. Both gangs are allegedly involved in extortion activities, both within India and abroad.