ASikh radio host was left “showered in blood” following an attack in his car.
At Auckland’s High Court, Harnek Singh’s views had caused controversy among orthodox Sikhs both in New Zealand and abroad.
This anger prompted one man to come up with a plot to kill Harnek two days before Christmas in 2020.
A group of masked men approached Harnek’s vehicle, which had been rammed just moments earlier as he tried to pull into the driveway of his South Auckland home.
Harnek told jurors: “It took a second for me to decide, ‘I’m gone’.
“To be honest, when I saw that… I just accepted it.”
The attack resulted in dozens of stab wounds and what prosecutors described as a nearly severed arm.
He continued: “I put my phone down, my head down and I decided to blow the [ute’s] horn.
“And I heard the first bang on the windscreen.”
Harnek’s memory then went blank, with only a couple of vague memories.
He recalled: “My right arm’s not working. Call an ambulance, please.”
Prosecutors say six men tailed the radio host on the evening of December 23, 2020, as Harnek returned home from a four-hour broadcast at the Papatoetoe temple where his recording studio was.
Three have pleaded guilty while three others are currently on trial alongside a man with name suppression who is accused of having orchestrated the assassination attempt.
The current defendants include Jobanpreet Singh, Jagraj Singh, Gurbinder Singh and Sukhpreet Singh.
When asked about how many wounds he incurred, Harnek held out his arms and said:
“I had so many cuts on this part that doctors could not stitch it.
“They had to take skin from my thigh and graft to here.”
He said he was able to count 175 staples in his head alone.
By the time he started counting individual wounds, the skin graft had already occurred, but there were still over 40 of them.
A friend named Balwinder Singh had taken his daughters to see the Christmas lights on December 23.
He turned into the road where Harnek lived and saw the radio host’s red ute.
Balwinder then noticed that Harnek was not wearing a turban.
He said: ”I had never seen him without a turban in my life.
“As soon as I looked inside the car everything changed. He was like a person who had come out of a shower of blood.”
Constable Jed Buddicom arrived at the property and noticed Harnek’s extensive injuries.
He said: “His right arm had heavy lacerations and the middle of the arm pretty much looked like it had been severed through.”
Constable Buddicom applied a tourniquet to his right arm and attempted to bandage and apply pressure to the other wounds.
Intensive care paramedic Patricia Carlyle, who has since retired, said:
“In my professional opinion, the police had saved that young man’s life by applying the tourniquet and bandages.”
Speaking about the multiple stab wounds to his chest, she added:
“I was unable to count them.”
The paramedic believed Harnek would die on the way to hospital and Two Hato Hone St John’s emergency medical technicians also thought Harnek had a 1 or 2 out of 10 chance of survival.
Prosecutors allege that the radio host was pretty much “left for dead”.
Harnek began his small community FM radio programme in 2013 but several years later, people shared audio clips of his programmes on social media.
Much of his audience is in the US, India, the UK and Canada.
Harnek said he had both fans and critics, some of whom would make threats.
The radio host acknowledged that his opinions regarding Sikhism divided listeners.
Meanwhile, the lawyer for the alleged orchestrator of the attack described Harnek Singh as an “agitator” and purveyor of “clickbait”, but the radio host had a more benign description of what he did on air.
Harnek said: “I just gave my opinion, and there was reason behind it.”
Prosecutors say the honking of his vehicle’s horn might have saved his life.
His wife came out of their house after being alerted by a neighbour.
Through a Punjabi interpreter, she said:
“I saw that he was bleeding profusely. He was filled with blood all over.”
The five defendants have pleaded not guilty and the trial continues.