New Delhi: A popular Sikh radio host in Auckland, who spoke against the Khalistan ideology, was brutally stabbed by a group of religious extremists in his driveway on December 23, 2020. Harnek Singh had to undergo multiple surgeries and received more than 350 stitches for his over 40 stab wounds, according to the Australia Today website. Three Indian-origin men were convicted for the attempted murder. Sukhpreet Singh, 44, was an accessory, and Sarvjeet Sidhu, 27, admitted to attempted murder.
The third man, a 48-year-old Auckland resident, who remains nameless, was the mastermind behind the attack. He was sentenced to one of the longest prison terms for the crime, the New Zealand Herald newspaper reported.
At a hearing on November 28, a judge said that the case was highly unusual and required community protection and deterrence. The court heard that the third man had a long-standing grudge against Harnek for his anti-Khalistan views, Australia Today reported.
He plotted the “hit” and used his charisma to recruit others to carry out his plan, the judge said.
The judge, Woolford, said that the attack was motivated by religious fanaticism. “This kind of violence is committed for what is seen as the greater good…” “The sentencing in this context needs a different approach. The focus must be on safeguarding the community from more violence and it is vital to send a strong message of deterrence to others.” He imposed a sentence of 13-and-a-half years, with a minimum of nine years before he can apply for parole, the Herald reported.
The maximum sentence for attempted murder is 14 years. The only reason the third man did not get the full maximum sentence was that he got a six-month credit for the time he spent on electronic bail while waiting for his long trial in September and October, the judge said. Harnek did not attend the hearing but wrote a victim impact statement that was read by the prosecutors.
He said that his family lived in fear every day when the sun set. He also addressed the defendants directly. He said: “You came to kill me. …You tried to silence me. You wanted to send a chilling message to all those who disagree with your unconventional religious views. But you failed. …I will keep expressing my opinions and beliefs as I always have.”