Five charged over stabbing of controversial Punjabi radio host

A sixth man is about to be charged with the alleged attempted murder of 53-year-old popular Punjabi radio host Harnek Singh in New Zealand.

Mr Singh was attacked in the driveway of his home on December 23, 2020.

It was the second attack on Mr Singh who was earlier assaulted in a restaurant on his birthday in July 2020.

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According to New Zealand Herald, his friends told said that it was religiously motivated attack.

Harnek Singh is part of the team at Radio Virsa popular amongst the Auckland’s Sikh community.

In fact, till last year the Papatoetoe based station boasted of having more than 350k YouTube subscribers that at present stand at 397k.

(Source: Radio Visa Facebook page)

Detective Inspector Chris Barry told New Zealand Herald that five men, aged between 24 and 39, were arrested after police searched multiple addresses in Flat Bush and Papatoetoe.

Radio Virsa Facebook page had earlier confirmed that Mr Singh is recovering well.

In June 2020, Mr. Singh was ticked off by Broadcasting Standards Authority for calling for “collective violent action” against members of a community in India.

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The BSA had upheld a complaint that Mr Singh’s comments made on Radio Virsa in 2019 breached broadcasting standards on violence, law and order and good taste and decency.

According to New Zealand Herald, a translation provided to the members of the BSA panel quoted Mr Singh as allegedly saying: “It is a request to Orthodox Sikhs, actually it is a threat but I would call it a request. Wait for a year friends. The day when we resolve to have a direct fight, the day we prepare our team by organising 500 people in Punjab …we know the Police officials, the people with sticks also know us, the rogues also know us, the goons also know us. They know how to infiltrate the houses and they also know how to (forcibly) pick-up people from their houses, if one day we resolve to fight and start to thrust ourselves by preparing 500-goons’ brigade in Punjab, life would be difficult. Be careful.”

Against this complaint, it was reported that Radio Virsa submitted that Mr Singh “did not threaten anyone but he used the word ‘we’ which was on behalf of all the innocent people and gave them a warning message.”

However the authority found that Mr Singh’s comments “called for collective violent action from his community in response to recent events” and “a segment of Punjabi talkback programme, Dasam Granth Da Sach breached the good taste and decency, violence and law and order standards.”

BSA noted in its judgement: “We find these comments, considering their specific and serious nature and the context in which they were made, were likely to incite or encourage violence or brutality and that Mr Singh and Radio Virsa did not exercise caution by broadcasting them” (SINGH AND RADIO VIRSA – 2019-081, 27 MAY 2020).

The BSA also noted that it recognises the value of Radio Virsa’s ‘right to freedom of expression’ but found the potential for harm justified a restriction of this right.