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Death By Gulab Jamun?

An Indian journalist is charged with intimidation after sending gulab jamuns to Ontario's premier.

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An Indian freelance reporter Neelam Vir says all she wanted was to express her "love and affection" for Ontario's Premier Dalton McGuinty with gulab jamuns. But she has instead been charged with intimidation and barred from communicating with the premier and his staff.

"I never meant to harm anyone," says Vir, 40. "My Canadian dream is shattered. I just want to go back to India."

In September 2007, Vir sent a gulab jamun mix to McGuinty through his staff member after she heard him say he liked the sweet at an election event she was covering. She followed up with an email inquiring if the staffer Monica Masciantonio had delivered the mix to the premier.

"I said, `If she didn't give it to you, I'll kill her.' It's just slang," Vir said. "I use this term all the time with my husband and my kids. In Hindi, it's, 'Mein tumarhi jaan nikal dungi.'"

Two months later she was charged with making a death threat and barred from communicating with McGuinty to whom she had sent several hundred emails ostensibly as a political supporter and fan. She was rearrested after she sent McGuinty an apologetic email seeking to explain the "cultural misunderstanding," for violating the bail conditions, which forbid her from communicating with the premier. She has been ordered to see a psychiatrist, pending trial. 

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Odds & Ends | Magazine | May 2008

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