Police investigating alleged attack on journalist in northeast Calgary
Radio host Kumar Sharma says attack was linked to local UCP nomination contest
Calgary Police say officers are investigating an alleged attack last week at a cultural event in northeast Calgary that the victim claims was politically motivated.
Veteran radio and TV host Kumar Sharma says he was attending the Punjabi National Mela 2018 event on Aug. 19 at the Skyview Grounds in northeast Calgary when he was approached and threatened by two men over a Facebook post that referenced a local UCP nomination candidate.
Sharma has been covering the nomination contest in Calgary-Falconridge on his Politics 101 radio show.
Sharma claims the two men, who he believes are friends and supporters of one of the nomination candidates, threatened him with "dire consequences" if he didn't remove the offending post — a screen grab of someone else's post that Sharma had shared.
"The situation became so tense, that I feared for my safety. Because of that, I deleted my shared Facebook post, right on the spot," said Sharma, speaking at a news conference Monday organized by Deepak Obhrai, Conservative MP for Calgary Forest Lawn.
Sharma says a short time later he was attacked by several men as he made his way back to his vehicle.
"Just a few feet away from reaching my vehicle, I was viciously attacked, from behind, by a group of men," said Sharma.
"There were at least seven men who attacked me all at once. I did not recognize any of the individuals," Sharma said, while a bystander photo capturing the alleged attack was shown to media along with several photographs claiming to show the same men posing with the nominee candidate involved at previous events.
Sharma says someone at the scene called 911 and he was treated by EMS.
"This has had a very severe impact on my health, on my emotional well-being and on my family. I have kids. I have to go alone a lot of time, so I'm definitely terrified," Sharma said.
Obhrai condemned the attack, linking it to a growing trend of verbal and physical attacks aimed at the media south of the border spurred by U.S. President Donald Trump and his anti-media supporter base.
Obhrai had attended the Mela event with Sharma on the day of the attack.
"Any violence against anyone is unacceptable," said Obhrai. "We must also speak up when media journalists are attacked because of their political views."
The United Conservative Party responded with a statement Monday afternoon condemning the alleged attack.
"The UCP strongly condemns these violent acts and wish Mr. Sharma a full and speedy recovery.
"We hope the Calgary police quickly brings the perpetrators to justice and ask anyone with knowledge to contact the police."
The statement continued: "While the criminal investigation is obviously paramount, the UCP also asks that individuals with relevant information bring it to our attention as a review is underway. Any individuals using violence such as this are not welcome in our party."
Sharma says he's been recovering for the past week but intends to be back on the air with his Politics 101 Fairchild Radio show on 94.7 FM this weekend.
Calgary police say they continue to investigate. No charges have been laid so far.
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