Sunday, June 28, 2015

Indian Kiwis question our justice system - AGAIN!!

Arun Kumar, Sai Krishna Naidu, Navtej Singh and Hasmat Bhai Patel: What is common here? These are Indians or people of Indian origin who were killed by non-Indians and killers of all received very questionable sentences – what the White men say, slap over the wrist with a wet bus ticket. With deafening silence from the community, what is there to say there will not be repeat of this scenario - AGAIN!

Where is the Indian media? We cannot blame the mainstream media to show much interest in this, as it has not yet colored enough to include our people- it is still very White. With a deafening silence from our Indian community leaders and representatives, we indeed are a voiceless community. Heard anything from anybody by now? FIJI PUNDIT attempts to fill that vacuum.

ARUN KUMAR - He was murdered in his store by two youths who failed to receive due sentence for their crimes -thanks to a wanting justice system and less than competent prosecution, and a very competent defense.
Initially I penned this article some seven (7) years ago upon death of yet another shopkeeper, Sai Krishna Naidu in 2008, and questionable sentencing in Navtej Singh murder case where only one was convicted of murder, and other accomplices were treated as petty thieves. Recent murder, sentencing and diminished charges and one acquittal in case of Arun Kumar, prompts me to revisit what I raised in 2008. It appears nobody gives a two hoots about another Indian or ethnic death. It seems our community has no voice, as we haven’t heard anything from our media, representatives or community leaders until now –so many lapdogs, no watchdog.

Dignitaries and movers and shakers at Arun Kumar funeral on 14 June 2014 at Wiri: Front left, Former Families Commissioner and Labour List MP, Rajen Prasad, Te Atatu Labour MP Phil Twyford and Auckland Mayor Len Brown, among others. Despite initial show of sympathy, justice failed the Kumar family. Ethnic and Indian communities are questioning the apparent skewed justice system which seems to favour the criminals.

It appears, soon Indians and ethnic people may have to question why they seem to get a prosecution team which is very wanting, or seem to be mere legal apprentices, learning the ropes of prosecution by taking ethnic murders through a court system, and providing sloppy prosecution cases. Otherwise, why are they always caught napping in ethnic cases?

Is justice blind? 

Members of Indian community in Auckland once again feel let down by the justice system which appears to be giving a signal that the killers on Indians have easy exit from the justice system. This I can vouch as a journalist who has covered three  violent deaths of Indians in media over the years, and now writing about the fourth one-that of Arun Kumar murder in Henderson in 2014 and its questionable sentencing earlier this month.

Henderson had been dubbed “the wild west” when a string of murders happened within a space of three weeks. On the morning of June, 10, 2014, dairy –owner, Arun Kumar was fatally stabbed by two youths from dysfunctional families, and this appeared to have been the highlight of the case-not the murder but heir upbringing. A 14 year old and 13 year old were charged with murder, but while one was convicted with reduced manslaughter charge, the ringleader, a 13 year old, walked scot free, thanks to a sloppy prosecution. We are filled with shame and dismay when the jury can be so easily swayed from the intent and culpability of the accused by other factors, such as upbringing or personal circumstances. What becomes laughable is that criminals who go to rob a shopkeeper armed with a knife are themselves seeking defence of self-defence from the unarmed victim who lost his life.

On January, 25, 2008, Sai Krishna Naidu was stabbed to death in his father's Manurewa dairy by a 16 year old  Tiare Towihi Nathan, who has been declared criminally insane, and is supposed to spend a great deal of time in hospital. The question that I had posed during Naidu’s death was who was responsible for releasing such loose cannons in a civilized society? Should not the parents, community or doctors who fail to diagnose such vice and threat to people be held responsible for such dereliction of duties?
Then there was death of an elderly grandfather, 85 year old Jasmat Bhai Patel who was assaulted by Auckland Unitec student Bio O'Brien on April 8, 2009 in a road rage. He was sentenced to three years, and should be out of jail shortly after one year of actual serving time.  There was outrage at this sentence, and Hindu Elders Foundation, an organization representing senior citizens raised its concerns. They asked, if the person killed was Helen Clark’s or John Key’s father instead of the father of an Indian green grocer, would the sentence have been any different?

In the much publicized case of another Indian, Navtej Singh, who was apparently allowed to bleed to death after being shot, while the police took their time to ensure they follow their book-rules. Why care, it is just another migrant. To add insult to injury, the apparent laxity in conviction of Navtej Singh’s killers had given wrong signals to the Indian community. Despite past court precedents and case laws, the conviction, or rather the lack of it, of the killers sends wrong signals, where only one was convicted while other accomplices were treated as common thieves. The sentencing went contrary to precedents.

Late Navtej Singh  (right) and widow Harjinder Kaur - Navtej was not only allowed to bleed to death while police were following their procedures, but only one thug received murder conviction while the accomplices were treated as petty criminals, despite case law suggesting otherwise.

In a racially inspired murder of an Asian, Michael Joy, a pizza delivery man on 13 September, 2003 in South Auckland by five Pacific Islander youths, the learned judge, Justice C.J. Elias said:

“…those convicted of murder and manslaughter were convicted as parties to culpable homicide in reliance on s66 (2) of the Crimes Act 1961 through their participation in a common design to rob Mr Choy.”

The learned judge further added that where two or more persons form a common intention to carry out any lawful activity and to assist each other in the crime, each of them is a party to every offence committed by any one of them in the carrying out of that common crime where it was known that such act could result in murder. In case of Arun Kumar murder, when a thug goes armed with a knife, how he can get a reduced manslaughter conviction and the ringleader accomplice goes free? Did the judge err in this case? But who cares, they have no voice or political clout.

In another gang related case involving six members of JCB gang which attacked and injured members of PDBs in Otara, South Auckland on 22 October, 2005, Justice Winkelmann ruled that the verdict of guilty on all suggested that the jury was satisfied that while one was the principal offender, the remaining five were part of a criminal enterprise and knew their action could result in serious injury or even worse.

For the August 2007 murder of the three-year-old Nia Glassie in Rotorua by her relatives, the court convicted more than one relative for murder and manslaughter for a group crime and was tough on the criminals.

The question that the Sikh community, families and widow of murdered Navtej Singh, Harjinder Kaur wishes to be answered is what was different in this case, what went wrong and why the other men escaped conviction for more serious crime?  What perhaps is difficult to perceive is that while legally only one is the murderer, all the others who contributed to Navtej’s death are classed as mere petty thieves! What laughable justice!

The trend is that ethnic and migrant communities, tend to replace the Anglo Saxon (European) community as frontline workers in dairies, liquor shops, taxi driving, security officers and similar higher risk jobs. The likelihood of more of them killed by youths from communities with deficient and wanting upbringing will continue. This is exactly what happened seven years on to Arun Kumar, and once again the justice system left itself wanting, and the criticism that came with other similar cases. This is because the main instigator and accomplice to the murder, walks free. What an inconsistent system of judgement and justice.

Has a blind justice been eluding Indian Community?
There is slang which says that law is an ass. In this instance I will not dispute that.

Doesn’t that adage apply to justice for ethnic communities as well?

[Thakur Ranjit Singh is a community worker from Auckland City, a political commentator and the blogger at FIJI PUNDIT. He claims to fill the vacuum where the mainstream and side stream (read Indian) media fails or is incapable of acting like the Fourth Estate. Instead of being a watchdog, due to self-interest and greed, Indian media appears to have now degenerated as lap dogs of the establishment]

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