A Punjab-based journalist has called for an official inquiry after he was taken off the air at a ethnic radio station in Vancouver.
Shiv Inder Singh believes he lost his job at Red FM – based in the Vancouver suburb of Surrey – because of his criticism of the Narendra Modi government.
Mr Singh has now filed a complaint before the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission and the Canadian Broadcast Standards Council.
According to Mr Singh, Red FM “arbitrarily suspended my services due to political interference which amounts to trampling of freedom of expression”.
“I believe that the action has been taken against me under political pressure from both the Indian agents and pro Modi lobby that continues to become stronger in Vancouver,” Mr Singh stated.
Kulwinder Sanghera, CEO of Red FM, has declined to comment and said that his lawyers were responding to the complaint.
Red FM CEO Kulwinder Sanghera
According to reports, Mr Singh had started working at Red FM in October 2014 providing news reports and political commentary from the Punjab for the station. Vancouver is home to a large Punjabi community.
However, he claimed that he had a “tough time” with one of the hosts because they have different views on “controversial issues”, including Mr Modi and India’s ruling Barathiya Janatha Party.
“It is pertinent to mention that religious intolerance has grown under Modi whose party, the Hindu nationalist Bhartiya Janata Party has a poor record on human rights,” he says in his complaint.
“The responsible Indian journalists too have been taking notice of these ugly developments and speaking about it openly. Since the Indians living in Canada are also worried about the situation, it becomes important to make them aware of these ground realities.”
Mr Singh claimed that he had asked Sanghera to intervene. “But it seems that no action was taken,” he stated.
Mr Singh claims that after things became “ugly” during one phone-in interview in July, his services have not been called on since.
When he raised the issue, he was told that “management has decided to make some changes in the programing which might take three months”.
He was “advised to wait”, and not to give his services to another radio station in the Vancouver area.
Mr Singh also claims that when two of his friends in Vancouver approached Mr Sanghera, they were told that the radio station suspended his services “following complaints from several listeners”, who objected to his “criticism of Modi and the Indian army”.