Wattle Downs stabbing: Police say those with information ‘need to come forward’

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Harnek Singh, a talkback show host at Radio Virsa, was assaulted on December 23.


Harnek Singh, a talkback show host at Radio Virsa, was assaulted on December 23.

Police have issued a plea for anyone with information about the stabbing of a talkback host, saying they’re sure someone in the community knows the attackers.

Harnek Singh was stabbed several times outside his home in Wattle Downs, south Auckland on December 23, about 10.20pm, after he returned home from work.

He was left in critical condition from deep cut wounds he sustained and has had multiple surgeries at Middlemore Hospital. His condition is stable.

Detective inspector Chris Barry, from the Counties Manukau criminal investigation branch, said police believe people know who the offenders are.

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“Police are committed to holding those responsible for this serious assault to account,” he said.

“We believe there will be people in the community who are aware of the identity of the offenders, and we reiterate that they need to come forward and speak to police.”

Previously, Sukhminder Singh, a family spokesperson, told Stuff his friend had received numerous death threats before the assault because of the opinions he shared on his show on Radio Virsa, a Punjabi station run out of Papatoetoe.

Harnek also has a Youtube channel with almost 400,000 followers.

Singh said it wasn’t the first time Harnek has been assaulted – he claimed there was an assault outside an Auckland restaurant on his birthday in July 2019.

“This assault shouldn’t have happened in the first place, and having a different opinion shouldn’t allow anyone to be attacked,” Singh said.

Police wouldn’t comment regarding possible motives for the attack but said they were following positive leads in their investigations.

Barry said they are keeping an open mind while the circumstances of the incident, and its motive, are established.

In 2017, some Radio Virsa shows, including Harnek’s show, Bhakhde Masley, were found to have breached broadcasting standards for airing comments that were degrading and offensive.

The Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) failed to uphold the complaint in its entirety, but found that three of the four Radio Virsa broadcasts in question “contained divisive and derogatory language, treated named individuals in the Sikh community unfairly and in one instance, breached an individual’s privacy”.

In 2018, 20 more complaints were lodged against Harnek’s radio show for degrading comments about deceased individuals and those living overseas, and their families.

The complaints weren’t upheld by the BSA, but the segment was acknowledged to being poor in taste.

Anyone with information on the Wattle Downs assault can contact police on 105, quoting file number 201224/2356, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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