Shop owner willing to meet teen attacker
A 13-year-old boy hurled a brick at the face of a Waikato greengrocer who confronted a gang of teenagers at the rear of his shop out of fear for his wife's safety.
Now Taran Nirh, 43, says he's willing to meet his attacker face to face.
The violent altercation occurred just before the high-profile killing of a west Auckland dairy owner on June 10.
A 13-year-old boy has been charged with the murder of Arun Kumar, 57, and assault with intent to rob his Henderson dairy.
No charges were laid in the incident at Country Fresh fruit and vegetable market in Te Awamutu as the crime did not meet the high threshhold for a minor. Nirh said he was now willing to meet the boy at a family conference if he was invited.
His stance is in stark contrast to the way he felt after the projectile smashed into his jaw in May.
Nirh also runs a cleaning business and was leaving the shop with a vacuum cleaner in hand when he spotted a trio of teenagers in the back alley.
Nirh said they had been loitering there regularly and allegedly caused property damage including kicking a hole in his shop wall.
Nirh was also worried for his wife's safety so he walked up to the boys and stopped about three metres away.
"I told them I don't want any trouble, I just want to talk," Nirh recalled.
"One of the boys picked up one of the landscaping bricks which was lying in the back of the shop and he just flung it at my face - it hit me right on my jaw."
He tried to block the object and it dislocated his finger. He also suffered cuts and bruising to his face and inside his mouth.
"I was quite stunned, standing there for a couple of minutes."
The boys fled before Nirh had a chance to react, something he is thankful for.
"I was feeling that I was lucky that I didn't dodge that brick because if I did I would have thrashed the boys and that wouldn't have been nice for me. Because when my wife and my shop are in danger, I don't care about any laws. If they had come in and abused my wife . . . anything that harms your loved one you won't step back you'd step forward and confront it."
Nirh said he called the police immediately. He was taken to the Te Awamutu Medical Centre for treatment. He said the boys returned while he was away and taunted his wife saying "get lost, go back to your country, that kind of thing".
Nirh arrived in Te Awamutu six years ago after immigrating from India - the reason was fate, he said.
"I know the country is beautiful and the people are lovely but you don't expect this kind of thing in a small town."
His attacker returned a fortnight after the initial attack and stared at him from the footpath.
Auckland Indian Association president Ashokbhai Darji doesn't believe attacks on Indian immigrants were racially motivated.
He believes it has more to do with the attackers being at an age where there is little legal recourse.
"At the end of the day responsibility lies with the family . . . I'm not sure why [racial taunts occur] because we live in such an open society."
Nirh said many of his customers were outraged at the attack and offered their support. Life goes on, Nirh said, but he now looks twice at new customers.
Police Sergeant Rob Pierce, of Te Awamutu, said a 13-year-old was the main offender while the two 14-year-olds involved were understood to have apologised to Nirh.
The brick thrower was dealt with through youth aid and has since moved to Hamilton.
"It is a concern," Pierce said, "especially when you have youths of that sort of age doing that sort of stuff - especially considering what went on up in Auckland . . . It's pretty rare, it doesn't happen a lot, particularly down our way."
Pierce advised shop owners not to take matters into their own hands. "We would prefer to be advised and it sounds like in his circumstances it was a bit of an ongoing issue so the earlier we get advised that there is something going on, hopefully we can stop it escalating."