38 year old taxi driver Hiren Mohini has been stabbed to death whilst on duty in Auckland overnight. The incident took place in the early hours of Sunday morning in the Mount Eden area and a man was seen running from the scene. Some news outlets in NZ may have ‘neglected’ to mention Mr Mohini’s nationality, however the The Indian Weekender was able to set the record straight:
“Mr Mohini had moved to New Zealand from Mumbai in about 2003, his close friend and schoolmate from Goregaon, Mumbai, Sachin Jadhav told Indian Weekender. He said he was driving his taxi for the past four years.
Another colleague, Shane, said Mr Mohini was one of the quietest blokes he knew and that he was always courteous and respectful. “If money is what the attacker wanted, he could have simply asked – and Hiren would have handed it to him with no hesitation,” he said.
Taxi driver Chittaranjan said this incident once again highlighted how risky driving taxis in Auckland could be. It strengthens the case for some sort of physical barrier between the front and back seats as a deterrent as is seen in many of the world’s big cities, he said.
Authorities had repeatedly stonewalled previous appeals for such measures and wanted to raise the issue once again the drivers said. Mr Mohini, who originally from Gujarat, leaves behind his wife, two daughters aged five and two and his mother.
Our deepest sympathies are extended to Mr. Mohini’s family for their terrible loss. We hope the police catch the person responsible as quickly as possible.
At this stage it is uncertain as to whether the attack was racially motivated. In December of 2008 Afghanistan national Abdulrahman Ikhtiari, 39 was found lying near his taxi with a fatal stab wound to his chest. That was the same week as Auckland cabbie Alexander Ershov, 23, was stabbed six times, fortunately he survived his injuries. A news report at the time reported:
“We can’t believe somebody killed him,” said Mohammad Ikhtiari, who is also a taxi driver. He is angry police appeared to have ignored previous complaints about the behaviour to which Afghani taxi drivers in Christchurch were subjected.
“Heaps have happened to taxi drivers … and when we call to the police and say this customer didn’t pay, they say `we don’t care. It is not criminal case’. If somebody insult us with `why you come here, what are you doing in this country?’ and when we tell to police they say `we don’t care’. They should have done more about this issue. We are very angry.”
Taxi drivers want the Transport Agency to change taxi regulations to require all cabs to be fitted with a cage or screen to protect the driver. They asked for the same after Abdulrahman Ikhtiari’s death in Christchurch but it was considered to be a ‘bad image for the city’. For pity’s sakes, how can image ever be considered more important than someone’s life?
Many highly skilled migrants drive taxis in New Zealand. They are unable to find other work because their overseas qualifications are ‘not recognised’. Some of them have said they are subjected to racial abuse whilst on the job: See post “Skilled Migrants Must Drive Taxis To Survive”
Update 1 February 2009
Police announced that they have found the knife they believed was used to kill Mr Mohini. TVNZ also said that the deceased man was a trained accountant and moved from Mumbai with his wife 7 years ago. Another report has said other people may have been involved in the vicious attack and that some taxi drivers refuse to work at night because the risks are too great.
There is still no news about the fate of Srikanth Rayadurgam (below) 23 year old student from Hyderabad who disappeared after withdrawing $250 from his bank account in Auckland in October. His personal belongings and empty wallet were found at a quiet location on Auckland’s harbourside.
See also see “NZ portrays safe image to attract Indians” from the Times of India.
Other Indian nationals murdered in New Zealand
Navind Govind – Clubbed to death by a gang of youths
Shiu Prasad – Stabbed to death by William Holtz who specialized in robberies of Indian owned shops and who was out on parole for the attack of another Indian shopkeeper.
Bhagubhai Vaghela – shot in the chest at close range in an Auckland superette.
Navtej Singh– Shot in the chest with a rifle during a liquor-store raid.
Krishna Naidu – Repeatedly stabbed in the abdomen in his family’s superette in Clendon.
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