Indian woman charged with death threats to Ontario premier

February 26th, 2008 - 11:17 pm ICT by admin  

By Gurmukh Singh
Toronto, Feb 26 (IANS) An Indian woman immigrant, who worked as a reporter with a newly launched South Asian daily in the Toronto suburb of Brampton, has been charged with making death threats to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty. Neelam Vir, a freelance reporter cum part-time teacher, who met the premier during the October provincial election campaign, has been accused of writing threatening e-mails to his staff.

While covering his election meetings and functions before the Oct 11 elections, Neelam reportedly come to know that the premier liked the Indian dish of gulab jamuns.

So in her misguided zeal to impress McGuinty, she reportedly sent him a packet of ingredients that go into making gulab jamuns Sep 30, just days before the elections.

After sending the packet, she emailed the premier asking whether his office staffer Monica Masciantonio had delivered him the packet.

“If she didn’t give it to you, I’ll kill her,” she wrote.

She later explained that it was just a term of endearment for loved ones “whom we often taunt with ‘main tumhari jaan nikal dungi’ in Hindi (I will kill you).”

But this was taken as a threat to the premier’s office staff. Though no action was taken for some time, in mid-November the police knocked at her door. She was arrested and her laptop, camera and other documents were seized.

The 40-year-old woman, who holds a Ph.D in botany, was released on the condition that she would not contact the premier, his staff, family, and not enter the provincial assembly, known as Queen’s Park.

But she wrote to the premier again, apologising for her mistake, which she called “a cultural misunderstanding”.

She was re-arrested for this breach of her release terms.

Neelam and her husband, who also holds a Ph.d in entomology, came to Canada from India in 2002. Since they could not land jobs, Neelam became desperate, returning to her teaching job in India.

Back in Canada once again, she failed to land any job, except that of a part-time teacher. In desperation, she wrote e-mails to Canadian leaders about the plight of newcomers.

The October provincial polls in Ontario gave her an opportunity to know Premier McGuinty.

Hoping that he would help her land a job, she is reported to have given his wife her resume and sent him a ‘rakhi’ before the elections.

Neelam says she now wants to go back to India. But she cannot, as she is barred from leaving Canada as she faces charges of death threats.

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