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July 27, 1999
Police Receive Many Tips On Murder Suspect
Arthur J Pais
For more than six months since Poonam Randhawa was killed near her high school during a lunchbreak, just two days after her 18th birthday, and the police suspected Ninderjit Singh of killing her, the authorities in Vancouver say they are getting some tips about the fugitive's whereabouts.
The police, who suspected that Singh had fled into southern California hours after killing Randhawa, say they received half a dozen tips within a day of America's Most Wanted program featured the alleged killer last Saturday. Singh is also known as Ninderjit Soos and Bira Singh.
"We suspect he is being protected by his friends in California," police spokesperson Anne Drennan had said soon after the January 26 murder. It was suspected then Singh had grown a beard and begun wearing a turban. He was also reportedly using false papers obtained for him by his friends.
This week, authorities would not discuss where the tips are leading them to. "We hope somebody in America will spot him and give either America's Most Wanted a call or contact us," Drennan said on Monday.
But the picture seen on television shows Singh without a beard. The authorities feel Singh might have gone back to his beardless and turbanless status But even if he was spotted with the beard and turban, officials feel that airing information about him on America's Most Wanted would heighten the tension for those who are harboring him, and some of them might want to get rid of him.
A photograph of Singh is posted on the America's Most Wanted Internet site.
Randhawa's murder raised questions about stalking and what should be the right response by the victims.
Randhawa's friends said she was being stalked by Singh for nearly two years, after she had terminated her romantic relationship with him.
She had changed her school to be away from him. And yet she could not bring herself to report the stalking incidents to the school authorities or the police.
The day of the murder, Poonam Randhawa was driving her own car with several of her friends. At a traffic light, Singh allegedly came to her and knocked on the window telling her something in Punjabi. Randhawa then asked her friends to drive her car to the school, and got into Singh's car.
Her friends are baffled at her act. Some of them believe she wanted to give Singh a final warning, but did not want to humiliate him in front of her friends.
The police believe that Singh drove for a few minutes, stopped the car at a deserted part of the street, shot Randhawa in the head and threw off her body
At Randhawa's funeral Ujjal Dosanjh, the attorney general of British Columbia, announced extensive programs at schools to warn the students against stalking.
Randhawa's murder raised a painful question for Indo-Canadians.
"Many in our community think they will be blamed if they report sexual harassment or stalking," says Poulomi Sheth, a community activist. "They should realize that hiding these facts leads to larger tragedies."
The Vancouver police have come for criticism from Indo-Canadians for what they believe to be sloppy investigation.
But Drennan says her department has been in continual touch with American police officials, and have sent Singh's pictures to scores of police precincts. At the Vancouver police's request, the Los Angeles affiliates of ABC and NBC broadcast Singh's pictures several months ago. They also provided details of the case. But there were no tips until the Most Wanted profile ran, officials say.
A spokesperson for America's Most Wanted characterized five tips within a day as "pretty good," adding that one of them could lead to an arrest.
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