Warning: This story deals with highly disturbing subject matter that may upset and trigger some readers. Discretion is advised.
A host at a B.C. Punjabi-language radio station has been suspended for his on-air comments while discussing a case of domestic violence out of New York that has garnered international attention.
Mandeep Kaur, 30, died by suicide in New York last week after posting a video online in which she accuses her husband of having beat her for years. Kaur, originally from Uttar Pradesh, India, shared pictures of bruises, a video in which he appears to smother or choke her, and a final video in which she blames her husband for her decision to kill herself, leaving behind her two daughters, ages six and four.
Kaur’s video message has sparked discussion about domestic violence within the South Asian community around the world, including here in B.C.
While discussing the matter on Thursday evening, Sher-E-Punjab AM 600 radio host Paul Brar suggested on air that people commenting on the high-profile case should not make personal matters public, and that Kaur’s husband’s side of the story has not yet been heard.
“We should be listening to men’s voices too,” Brar said in Punjabi, and that just because someone claims to have been beaten and abused, doesn’t make it true.
“To those Kaur Movement women, I’m pleading with you to not tear homes apart,” he said.
On Friday morning, the Richmond-based station apologized to its listeners and said Brar had been suspended.
“The management and staff of Sher E Punjab radio do not condone or excuse violence in any form and strongly opposes any kind of intimidation that targets women, seniors, children and the most vulnerable among us,” it said on Twitter.
“Recently comments were made on this station that some have interpreted as us holding the opposite of this value … We apologize for any offense taken and ensure all our listeners that we take this matter very seriously.”
The tweet also said the station is investigating Brar’s statements and that he will remain suspended until the review is complete.
“We have taken swift action, we have suspended the host, we are reviewing it. It is in the hands of our lawyers and I cannot make further comments,” Gurdial Badh, a director at the station, told Global News.
The radio station has covered issues of domestic abuse in the past, which is not unique to the South Asian community, he added, and will do “whatever we can to be accountable to our listeners and our audience.”
The Kaur Movement, an organization that supports sexual and domestic violence victims, has aggregated a number of Kaur’s photos and videos on its website. It has also posted many updates on the case and calls for accountability and justice for Kaur.
Founder Gurpreet Kaur, of no relation, accused Brar of “mocking” abuse victims, and said his comments traumatized others who called her saying they regretted coming forward.
“(Mandeep Kaur) needs justice and she’s not getting it,” Gurpreet Kaur said. “Now she’s dead and she can’t defend herself, so we’re trying to do that for her, and instead of helping her, you guys are mocking victims of abuse.”
Brar should have been fired, she added, and called for him to publicly apologize.
Maneet Abrol, an American singer and podcast host with more than 80,000 Instagram followers, has also come out swinging against Brar.
He questioned why Brar thought people should be quiet on matters of domestic abuse, as well as Brar’s claims there is not enough evidence to show the husband is at fault.
“The proof is out there. A person is dead and you still continue to question what the person did even after the facts are out?” he said in a Thursday Instagram post.
“The truth was never really going to come out unless people raised their voice.”
If you or someone you know is involved in an abusive situation, please visit the Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime for help. They are also reachable toll-free at 1-877-232-2610.
The Battered Women’s Support Services crisis line (1-855-687-1868) is available 24 hours a day for anyone in need of emotional support or practical assistance.
Crisis responders are also available around the clock at the Talk Suicide Canada at 1-833-456-4566.