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Hamilton retailers stage protest and shut shops

Retailers protest in Hamilton (Photo supplied)

Hamilton retailers got together on Sunday, 27 November 2022 by shutting their businesses and staged a protest in light of the recent murder of dairy worker Janak Patel.

His funeral was attended by community members and politicians, including the Prime Minister, who met the grieving family. On the same day, more than 200 people stood on Te Rapa Rd, outside The Base, calling for the Government to address the crime wave hitting small businesses.

But the retailers fear that this might just be the start of a new normal, as stated by one of the attendees at the protest.

Manish Thakkar, one of the organisers of the protest and a long-standing representative of Waikato retailers Group said “The time for talk and kind words is over. We are still being targeted and it has been discussed many times over. People gathered here have personally gone through the trauma of being in similar situations, and we are only fortunate it did not result in a tragedy as big as Janak’s.”

Ash Parmar, the other organiser said “Instead of focusing on the crime and punishment, the government has confused the retailers and found reasons to deny the funding. The earlier incident was shocking as it was unexpected. But this time, we were just waiting for it to happen.”

With a show of hands, Mr Parmar asked the people at the protest to tell how many had been subject to robberies and almost everyone had a story to tell.

Organisers of Retailer protest Manish Thakkar and Ash Parmar

Dairy workers countrywide are sending a strong message to the Government on Monday as they plan a nationwide protest.

The solidarity vigil has taken place from 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm, where several dairies shut up shop and stand outside.

A larger vigil is being held in front of Ardern’s electoral office in Auckland’s Mt Albert, but supporters from other cities have been encouraged to gather in front of their local MP’s office.

Protest gathers community support

The Prime Minister has said there was a group of about 70 youth who were identified as causing “quite a harm” and in those cases, families had to be worked with, along with the youth. Ms Ardern agreed more needs to be done, at every level from intervention, responsibility and prevention.

She said in an interview, “looking at the facts, the number of aggravated robberies since 2017 in superettes and dairies has halved. What we have seen an increase in, are the burglaries.”

She agreed the dairy owners are being targeted but she said “I reject that we are preferencing the criminals.”

The cabinet is set to meet today to discuss Retail crime prevention, collaborating with local councils, and how to have a more effective and wider reach.

Praneeta Mahajan is an Indian Newslink correspondent based in Hamilton.

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