Three men sentenced for attempted murder of Kiwi radio host Harnek Singh who challenged Khalistanis

“You came to kill me. ...You tried to silence me. You wanted to send a chilling message to all those who express their disagreement with your unorthodox religious views."

Three religious fundamentalists have been convicted of the attempted murder of an Auckland-based popular radio host Harnek Singh.

Sukhpreet Singh, 44-year-old, was found guilty of being an accessory, and Sarvjeet Sidhu, 27-year-old, pleaded guilty to attempted murder.

One man is an Auckland resident and has been given one of the longest possible prison sentences for the crime, reports NZ Herald.

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During the hearing, Judge Mark Woolford observed that community protection and a strong message of deterrence were both necessary for this case.

“It bears all the hallmarks of religious fanaticism. … Sentencing in this context requires a different approach. The emphasis must be placed on protecting the community from further violence and it is essential to send a strong message of deterrence to others.”

Image: Harnek Singh (Source: Instagram)

Radio host Harnek Singh, also known as Nekki, suffered more than 40 stab wounds as he was ambushed by a group of religious fundamentalists in the driveway of his home on December 23, 2020.

Harnek Singh had been followed by three cars full of men and was stabbed “within an inch of his life”.

He locked the door of his ute and began pounding on the horn, attracting the attention of neighbours as the attackers bashed in his window.

The police told the court that Mr Singh would have bled to death from his extensive stab wounds.

As a result of the attack, Harnek Singh required over 350 stitches to his head and upper body and multiple surgeries.

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Image: Harnek Singh attacked and stabbed multiple times in his driveway in Wattle Downs in December 2020 (Source: NZ Herald)

Earlier, Avtar Singh, a former bodybuilder, told the court he used to be friends with the man with name suppression. He soon stopped associating with the man whom he labelled a “thug” and “mafia” in 2018: “He has a way around people, especially broken people.”

Avtar’s friend Baljinder told the court he’d been asked to kill Harnek, but declined. He added that on December 23, Jaspal Singh rang him: “Job is done, he’s no longer going to be on the radio.”

It is also reported that there is a 48-year-old defendant (with interim name suppression) who wasn’t present when the attack occurred. This man, the court was told, harboured a years-long resentment against Hranek Singh as the popular Kiwi radio host was vocal against the Khalistan.

Harnek Singh told the courtroom that his opinions regarding Sikhism probably fall more along the liberal end of the spectrum while the majority of his critics were more on the fundamentalist or conservative side.

Harnek Singh’s victim impact statement was read aloud by prosecutors:

“My family faces fear each day when the sun goes down. My wife and child wonder if someone is lurking in the shadows, looking into our home, wanting to attack us again … We went from a carefree, spontaneous and fun-loving family to one that is constantly in fear for my safety.”

Harnek Singh encourages his family not to live in fear and thanked the New Zealand justice system for making sure that “no one is above the law, not even religion.”

Further in his victim statement addressing the defendants directly, Harnek Singh observed:

“You came to kill me. …You tried to silence me. You wanted to send a chilling message to all those who express their disagreement with your unorthodox religious views. But you failed. …I will continue to express my opinions and beliefs as I always have.”

He added:

“The only chilling message you have managed to send is to people with the same views and opinion as yours that actions have consequences and that in a country like New Zealand, the law does not bend for you if your wrongful acts are in the name of God.”

Crown prosecutor Luke Radich argued that the nature of the case and the defendant’s role required the maximum possible starting point of 14 years.

“If this is not amongst the most serious cases of its type, then what is? It could not have been more pre-meditated … and [the defendant] was the architect of it.”

It is reported by NZ Herald that Harnek Singh’s words resonated with the judge and he repeated them as he sentenced the defendant.

Sarvjeet Sidhu was sentenced to nine-and-a-half years’ imprisonment and Sukhpreet Singh was sentenced to six months of home detention. 

Image: Jobanpreet Singh and Sukhpreet Singh (Source: NZ Herald)

Justice Woolford said that the 48-year-old Auckland man planned the “hit” and influenced others to recruit henchmen to do his bidding.

A sentence of 13-and-a-half years was imposed, with a minimum period of imprisonment of nine years before he can begin applying for parole. The maximum sentence for attempted murder in New Zealand is 14 years.

The judge said that as the defendant has served time on electronically monitored bail while awaiting his lengthy trial in September and October, he deserved a six-month credit.

Two men, Jagraj Singh and Gurbinder Singh, were acquitted as there wasn’t enough evidence against them and two others, Jobanpreet Singh and Hardeep Singh Sandhu, still await sentencing early next year for the attempted murder of Harnek Singh. 

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