Vancouver Sun

Paralysed blind man charged in murder conspiracy

- BY KIM BOLAN

A blind quadripleg­ic who once confessed in The Vancouver Sun to a series of gangland hits has been charged with conspiracy to commit murder for allegedly plotting to kill a Surrey man this summer.

Baljit Singh ( Bal) Buttar, 31, is under arrest at the long- term care facility in which he has lived since being shot in the head by a rival in August 2001.

Meena Jouhal, a 30- year- old Surrey medical office assistant, and Buttar were charged Tuesday with conspiracy, as well as unlawfully counsellin­g someone to kill her husband Navtej Singh Jouhal, listed on property records as a pre- press manager.

Buttar asked to speak to a Sun reporter when he was arrested, but the reporter wasn’t permitted Wednesday to see him by two sheriffs posted outside his new room in the Vancouver facility, where he receives 24hour- a- day care for his severe disabiliti­es.

Meena Jouhal is set to make her first appearance in court this morning, while Buttar’s next appearance is set for Sept. 10.

Buttar told The Sun last month he’d just been visited by police who threatened to put him in jail for talking with an acquaintan­ce about arranging a hit.

Buttar said he was extremely frightened by the visit, which he said must have resulted because his phone was bugged. And he told The Sun the conversati­on in question was misconstru­ed.

But court records name the person allegedly approached by Buttar and Jouhal to commit the murder sometime between July 24 and Sept. 3 of this year. The plan was never carried out.

Surrey RCMP is leading the investigat­ion, but was aided by the integrated regional homicide investigat­ion team.

Land title documents obtained by The Sun show the Jouhals bought a house in Surrey’s Bear Creek area at 14264 – 86B Ave. in April 2005, which was just assessed at $ 447,000.

Navtej Jouhal is employed at Nathen Printing in Burnaby, but was not at work Wednesday.

There was no answer at his Bear Creek area home.

Buttar and his two brothers, who were all involved in the criminal underworld, grew up and lived in Richmond until Buttar was critically wounded six years ago. His younger brother, Kuljit Singh ( Kelly) Buttar, was murdered a few months later in a targeted, unsolved shooting.

In September 2004, Bal Buttar told The Sun he’d witnessed too much violence and wanted to come clean about his criminal past to help youth steer clear of gangs, drugs and organized crime.

Buttar told The Sun he arranged the unsolved 1998 murder of crime boss Bindy Johal, even though he was working under Johal in the “ Indo- Canadian Mafia” at the time. Buttar said he felt he had to take Johal out because of erratic behaviour by the notorious cocaine dealer that included killing off a series of his own associates.

“ If I hadn’t killed him, he would have got me,” Buttar explained. “ I had no choice.”

Buttar also confessed to having a role in other unsolved murders, prompting police to pay him a visit after The Sun’s revelation­s. But he refused to cooperate with a criminal case, saying he didn’t want to be a rat.

In a series of interviews, he offered a glimpse into a criminal underworld that lures teens craving attention, money and power and turns them into gangsters, drug dealers and killers willing to betray their best friends to move up in the organizati­on.

He claimed to have found God and abandoned his criminal ways.

In the mid- 1990s, Buttar said, Bindy Johal founded a shadowy, five- member hit squad called “ The Elite” that Buttar said was responsibl­e for 25 to 30 murders.

Johal controlled The Elite, but would pass control to Buttar and others at various times, he said, refusing to name members.

Buttar said Johal ordered him to arrange the July 1998 Vancouver murder of Vinuse News MacKenzie and the unsuccessf­ul October 1998 attempt on the life of Johal associate Peter Gill.

It was The Elite that Buttar turned to in December 1998 to gun down Johal as he hit the dance floor at the Palladium nightclub.

Buttar said he also used The Elite “ a few times” more after he took over Johal’s criminal empire.

Buttar said he believes it was his former right- hand man in the Indo- Canadian Mafia, who he dubbed “ The Teeth,” t h a t arranged the failed hit on him.

The Teeth planned the killing with another close associate, Gary Rai, and some of Buttar’s criminal rivals. It was Rai’s idea to go to Kohli’s Salon on Victoria Drive on Aug. 3, 2001 to get their legs waxed.

A masked gunmen showed up and opened fire, critically wounding Buttar, who was shot twice in the head, and killing Rai.

No one has ever been charged in Buttar’s shooting or several related and retaliator­y hits.

Buttar described to The Sun his limitation­s from the shooting.

“ I am not dead or alive. I am right in the middle. Why did God do this? I don’t know why.”

 ?? BILL KEAY/ VANCOUVER SUN FILES ?? Baljit Singh ( Bal) Buttar was left disabled after being shot twice in the head.
BILL KEAY/ VANCOUVER SUN FILES Baljit Singh ( Bal) Buttar was left disabled after being shot twice in the head.

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