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3 Indian Canadians charged with poll fraud

Vancouver (British Columbia), May 4, 2010: 

Three Indian-Canadian men here have been charged with poll malpractices in the last year's election campaign of Indian-origin British Columbia's former solicitor-general Kash Heed.

Canada's British Columbia province is home to the largest concentration of Indian Canadians, and Kash Heed (short from Kashmir Heer) one of the three Indo-Canadians serving in cabinet posts in Canada, including federal parliamentary secretary Deepak Obhrai and Ontario provincial minister Harinder Takhar.

Denying any knowledge of wrongdoings, Heed voluntarily resigned last month after police started investigating complaints of malpractices during his election campaign. Heed had quit as chief of the city police to contest the May 2009 elections at the urging of premier (chief minister) Gordon Campbell.

Investigators Monday exonerated Heed, but charged three Indian Canadians - Barinder Sall, Satpal Johl and Dinesh Khanna - who headed his poll campaign with 12 violations under the Canadian Criminal Code and the Election Act.

Sall, the poll campaign manager, faces charges of improper advertising, obstructing a poll official and destroying evidence to hide fraud.

Johl, the campaign financial manager, has been charged with finance irregularities.

Khanna, whose company sent poll flyers for Heed, has been charged with lying and giving a false phone number.

Exonerating Heed, investigator Terrance Robertson, said, "The Special Prosecutor has not approved any charges against Kash Heed.''

The investigation followed after complaints by losing candidate Gabriel Yiu who alleged that certain misleading flyers by Heed's team led to his loss by 748 votes in the Vancouver-Fraserview constituency.

The flyers had alleged that Yiu's New Democratic Party would impose death tax and legalize drugs if it came to power.

Khanna had lied about his hand in the flyers even though his company had sent these to people through Canada Post.

Heed, who belongs one of the oldest Indian families in Canada, was handpicked for the job of top cop by the premier after the elections. Even as his campaign officials face charges, Heed is likely to return to the cabinet.