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Protesters Accuse Govt Of Being Soft On Crime

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

By Alastair Bull of NZPA

Auckland, Oct 24 NZPA - Supporters of a liquor store owner facing charges after allegedly trying to defend himself in a brawl say the Government is worse than Third World countries on crime.

About 80 demonstrators waved signs such as "Self Defence Is Not a Crime" outside Manukau District Court when Virender Singh faced two charges of injuring with intent to injure.

The charges followed a brawl involving drunken youths outside his liquor store in Otara in September.

Singh, 40, said he was forced to defend himself after an attempted robbery at his store. His lawyer, Sanjay Sharma, confirmed Singh would fight the charges.

Police said retailers could not use unreasonable force when defending themselves or their property if they came under attack, when they announced the charges against Singh.

Asian Anti-Crime Group spokesman Peter Low agreed retailers needed to use common sense in such situations.

"But if your life is being threatened you have the right to protect yourself."

New Zealand Indian Central Association general secretary Veer Khan said tougher sentences were the only way to deal with people who initiated violent offending.

"It's worse than a Third World country," Mr Khan said.

"Here they are too soft. People know they can commit a crime and get away with it."

Mr Low said he wanted to see "double the sentences" for violent offenders and a much tougher line on parole.

There were banners for ACT at the rally, though most of the protesters said they did not have connections to any political parties.

One did say that "monkeys are running the country".

Singh did not speak to media following his court appearance but spent some time thanking his supporters.

The demonstrators were mostly of Indian and east Asian descent, but Mr Khan said the issue affected all New Zealanders.

"Too often we hear media talking about an Asian victim or an Indian victim who died. We are all Kiwis and we all need to get together to stop this violence," Mr Khan said.

Singh was further remanded on bail for another pre-depositions hearing on December 3.

A 15-year-old male has also been charged following the incident outside the Gilbert Rd liquor store in Otara on September 30.

At least two people have died during attacks in south Auckland shops this year.

Saishwar Krishna Naidu, 16, died in January after being stabbed as he tried to stop a teenage knifeman robbing the family superette in Finlayson Avenue in Clendon.

Five months later, Navtej Singh was shot dead by armed robbers at his Riverton Liquor Shop in Manurewa.

Three days after the Otara incident, Shashikant Prema was stabbed in his dairy and Lotto shop in the Auckland suburb of Avondale.

Mr Prema said he wondered if he would have faced charges had he been in a position to defend himself.

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