SURREY – Over 2000 people packed Surrey City Plaza Wednesday night to let their voices be heard loud and clear that they are not going idly sit by and have their children murdered on the streets of Surrey.
The WakeUp! Rally was held just over a week after two young Indo-Canadian boys were gunned down in Surrey.
On June 4th, Surrey teens Jaskarn “Jason” Singh Jhutty, 16, and Jaskaran “Jesse” Singh Bhangal, 17, were found dead from gunshot wounds in the locality of 192 Street and 40th Avenue in Surrey.
Despite not being known to police, investigators said the killings of Jhutty and Bhangal were targeted just like hundreds before them who have been the victims of rising gun violence as a result of gangland activity.
The gathered crowd Wednesday called for more police and political action to deal with the rising crime in Surrey but they also pledged to hold community members and themselves account for bringing positive change to the South Asian community.
DESIBUZZCanada Founder-Editor R. Paul Dhillon, who attended the rally and was one of the organizers along with Punjabi journalist Gurpreet Lucky Sahota and many others, wrote on his Facebook page that “the community is mad as hell and judging by the sentiment – politicians and police better listen or they will have to pay a price for their non-action as kids are being murdered now on the streets of Surrey.
“There are over 2000 people here and they are demanding action. Although it’s supposed to be neutral one soaker already took shots at Mayor Linda Hepner and councilor Tom Gill, who is expected to be Surrey First’s Mayoral nominee! Somebody is going to pay a price politically after this rally and it maybe Surrey First!!!”
Many South Asian People who gathered in the crowd were parents who can understand how something so horrible could happen to a pair of boys that were so young.
Darshan Sharma, who was one of the victims came out and told News 1130 that he was shocked when he heard a 16-year-old, and a 17-year-old had been killed.
“My reaction was like, stunned. It could have been my kids, you never know right?”
People like Joginder Cheema think parents need to be more involved in their kids’ lives.
“Parents and their young kids, anywhere around 14 to 25, they have to learn on their own, there’s no way around it.”
Many called for more action from the provincial, municipal, and federal governments, to see an end to violence in the community.
Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth, who was on hand at the rally along with many of his fellow NDP MLAs, has committed to meeting with the rally organizers.
“I’ve been approached by some of the organizers about wanting to meet with me, and I’ve said yes.”
There’s no word on when that meeting will happen. South Asian community initiative in the wake of the violent murder of Surrey teenagers
The Wake-Up! Rally organizers put out a press release saying: “With these callous murders, two more names were added to a list of over 300 South Asian males whose lives have been lost to gang violence in the past two decades. The age of the victims in last week’s senseless killings has the community reeling in shock. Within the outpouring of grief and fear over this latest tragedy there is a palpable sense of trauma, that a crisis point has been reached and that something must be done to wrestle our youth from the clutches of this deadly criminal lifestyle. In response to this, we as concerned individuals, from a variety of non-partisan backgrounds, have come together to seek a critical intervention comprising both long and short-term measures to save the lives of our children.”
Concerns were raised at a rally in the city Wednesday evening, where residents demanded more action to prevent further shootings. Hundreds gathered in the space carrying signs with slogans such as “Wake up, Surrey” and “Every kid matters.” Unidentified organizers asked parents and community leaders to come together at City Hall with the purpose of asking MLAs, MPs, councilors and the mayor to do more to stop gun violence. They asked politicians to bring a “report card” rating how they’ve addressed the issue so far, reported CTV News.
Residents including the family of Jassi Jhutty are calling on local politicians to do more to curb violence in Surrey a week after the bodies of two teenage boys were left on the side of a road.
Among those who planned to attend the city hall demonstration were those who knew Jassi best. In an interview with CTV News, they said they’re struggling to understand why Jassi was killed.
In a living room filled with memories of the teen, his sister Sharon told CTV the pair were very close.
“I honestly lost my other half. Right now, there’s a space inside me that’s just empty because he’s gone,” Sharon said Wednesday.
Sharon and Jassi were just two years apart in age and told each other everything. She remembers him for his ready smile and the passion for cars he’d hoped to turn into a career as a mechanic.
“He was too young. He had so many dreams. He had a bright future ahead of him, I know that for sure.”
On the day of the shooting, Jassi said he was going out to play basketball with friends at a nearby court he visited often.
“He walked there and we expected him to come back home but he never did,” Sharon said.
A significant amount of evidence has been gathered since that day, according to the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team. But officials are still asking witnesses to come forward.
Those wishing to pay tribute to the teens can attend a candlelight vigil on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Holland Park.
The Bhangal family said it is not looking for donations from the community. They said they’ve come across a fraudulent online fundraiser, which they reported to the website, reported CTV News.
A fundraiser set up for Jason’s family had raised more than $17,000 in the first week.