Ram raids, methamphetamine use, armed robbery – these were the unfortunate things that made headlines in the last few days. Considering the same, it won’t be an exaggeration to say that we're amid a youth crime epidemic, especially in Auckland.  

And small business owners, especially dairy owners, feel the brunt of the same the most.

We spoke to Kiwi Indian senior citizen Tapendra Singh Sokhi, who expressed his helplessness at the current law and order situation. Sokhi, who has been running a dairy shop named Highway Dairy in Mt Wellington, Auckland, since 2003, says, “I have been running this shop for the last 20 years and have experience incidents of crime, ram raids and theft at least 40 times. I had to put grills across the cash counter and even boulders outside my shop to deter the culprits.”

With a sign of frustration and helplessness on his face, Sokhi revealed that the stress of increasing crimes had taken a toll on his health. “Earlier, I didn't have diabetes or high blood pressure, but now I have developed both because of the tremendous trauma and stress I face each time an incident happens in my shop, or I hear of increasing cases. I have been traumatised. “Hamari jaan sukhi rehti hai (We live in constant fear). We are always fearful that someone will come and harm us.”

Sokhi’s wife Amarjeet, too, pitched in saying, “These criminals have no shame. Just the other day, they broke the shutter of our shop. Whenever our daughter in law is alone at the shop, we tell her to keep the door closed even though we have grills for her safety. We are always scared.”

Sokhi, who served in the Indian Army for nine years, also said that though police do come within minutes of any incident, nothing substantial is done beyond that. “What should I say about the police? They do come. I don’t want to criticise them. At times, I have even provided them with names and addresses of the culprits, but even then they haven't been able to do anything."

Now, on to an inspirational side of Sokhi's life. Sokhi is a sports achiever even at the age of 69 and has won 8 medals at the recently concluded 18th Masters Games in Perth.

He says, “I have been interested in sports from the age of 8. Besides other athletics, I played sports like cricket, soccer, volleyball, and hockey.”

Singh came to New Zealand around the year 2000 to participate in a games event in Dunedin and then fell in love with the country and decided to settle here with his family. He is looking forward to joining in South Island Masters Games in Timaru in October and then later at World Masters Athletics next year.

Sharing his motto for fitness, he says, “I do not eat junk food and prefer to eat natural foods. I feel content and happy with myself and my life, and that's very important. I want to inspire youngsters and tell them that sports are a great way to get away from stress and depression. If I can win medals at this age, so can you…just get up and try your passion. I will be happy if I can inspire even a single person.”