Radio India executive pleads not guilty to charges in connection with shooting at 2010 Surrey wedding

Sikh wedding shooting trial

Radio India’s Maninder Gill (R) walks out of the court in New Westminster where he is being tried for aggravated assault and firing a weapon. Photo: Larissa Cahute, Vancouver Desi

LARISSA CAHUTE
VANCOUVER DESI

Animosity had been brewing between a prominent Surrey broadcaster and a local community member in the months leading up to an August 2010 shooting at a Sikh wedding, a B.C. Supreme Court judge was told Wednesday.

In his first day on trial, Maninder Gill, managing director of Radio India, sat quietly in the prisoner’s box in a New Westminster courtroom and spoke only to plead not guilty to a number of gun offences.

The charges include possessing a weapon for a dangerous purpose, aggravated assault, two counts of discharging a firearm with intent to wound or disfigure, two counts of pointing a firearm and unlawfully discharging a firearm at the Aug. 28 wedding at Surrey’s Guru Nanak Sikh gurdwara.

Evidence was that Gill was one of about 1,000 people at the temple on 120 Street and 70 Avenue when gunshots rang out between noon and 1 p.m.

The first witness to take the stand Wednesday was developer Harjit Singh Atwal, who was wounded in the upper left leg.

Atwal said he’s known Gill since 1985, but they were not on speaking terms at the wedding because he had filed a civil suit against Gill the previous May for allegedly defaming his family on the radio.

“He said so much against my family on the radio,” Atwal told the Crown. “After (that) I never talk to him.”

However, he acknowledged that they had “exchanged phone calls,” and in cross examination, defence lawyer Richard Peck grilled Atwal on the “bad feelings” between the pair.

“They were saying a lot of bad stuff against my family,” said Atwal. “Yes, I have bad feeling.”

The cross-examination revealed that a heated argument broke out between groups at a restaurant in April, followed by another at the 2010 Vaisakhi parade.

During the morning proceedings, Atwal recalled the day he was shot.

He said that midway through the ceremony, he left the temple to get some water from his truck. Some time later, as crowds began to exit, he recalled seeing Gill motioning towards him and shouting something in Punjabi, before reaching towards his belt and pulling out a gun.

“When he fired first shot I started moving fast,” Atwal told the Crown. “Everything was chaos … everybody was running.”

Once he realized he was shot, he said, he “went blank for a little while,” and when he came to, Gill was pointing the gun at him, until a friend came to his aid.

Atwal was taken to hospital, where he gave police a statement and spent five days recovering.

He said there’s not much residual damage, but he still experiences some pain when sitting on hard surfaces.

The trial is expected to run until July 25 and hear from a number of witnesses, including Gill himself.

lcahute@theprovince.com

twitter.com/larissacahute

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