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Kanwarpal Singh: Life sentence for murdering Farzana Yaqubi

Farzana Yaqubi thwarted Kanwarpal Singh's unwanted attention; he stabbed her to death in a frenzied knife attack in broad daylight

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Former security guard Kanwarpal Singh’s chilling actions have resulted in a life sentence after pleading guilty to the harrowing charges surrounding the tragic death of 21-year-old law student, Farzana Yaqubi. The heart-wrenching details of the case have sent shockwaves through the community in New Zealand, shedding light on the terrifying consequences of online harassment and the urgency of safeguarding personal safety in the digital age.

Hailing from Afghanistan, Farzana Yaqubi’s journey to New Zealand at the tender age of two was one of hope and resilience. Escaping the turmoil of her war-ravaged homeland, she embraced her new life, excelling in academics and displaying an impressive independence. Her dedication culminated in her acceptance into Auckland University of Technology’s Law School, where a promising future beckoned.

However, the promising trajectory of Farzana’s life took a dark and sinister turn in September 2020 when she crossed paths with Kanwarpal Singh, a security guard employed on Queen Street in Auckland City. What initially appeared as a harmless interaction escalated into a nightmare of harassment and threats that would tragically culminate in her untimely demise.

By ingeniously engaging her in conversation during their first encounter, Kanwarpal  managed to forge a connection with Farzana, keeping contact alive through social media platforms like Instagram. In response to her blocking his messages, he resorted to creating a series of fake accounts to continue his communication, further subjecting her to threats on her life and wellbeing. The stalking continued for two years, and included a video outside her family home, and threats to throw acid on her face.

The extent of her ordeal reached a turning point in October 2022 when Farzana reported the persistent harassment to law enforcement. Armed with evidence of the accused’s alarming messages and his attempts to exert control over her life through digital channels, she sought refuge from the fear that had consumed her existence. However, her fight for safety was tragically cut short.

On the ill-fated day of December 19, 2022, Farzana’s life was abruptly extinguished in an appalling act of violence. As she walked through a familiar alleyway, Kanwarpal Singh approached her wielding a menacing knife, launching into a frenzied onslaught. Despite her valiant efforts to defend herself, the onslaught resulted in multiple fatal stab wounds, the brutality of which was underscored by her severed thumb—raised in a futile bid for self-preservation.

As members of the public intervened, the assailant fled, leaving Farzana Yaqubi fatally wounded on the ground. Her potential and dreams were extinguished where she fell, leaving a community grappling with grief and disbelief.

Despite his initial evasion, diligent police work led to the apprehension of the accused at his residence the following day. He ultimately pleaded guilty to the horrific crimes committed against Farzana Yaqubi, facing a life sentence for his actions.

The PAC report quoted Singh telling a Probation Officer, “No one knows the real story. No one knows the truth, only me and her know the truth about [what] was happening with us and because I killed her, people will look down at me. I can’t even do victim blaming.”

“Mr Singh, in at least that last respect, you are correct. It would be entirely wrong for anyone to blame Ms Yaqubi for the terrible situation she found herself in. But comments like that, and others set out in the report, demonstrate to me that you do not feel a true sense of remorse. For no rational reason, you harbour a sense of disgruntlement. You have expressed a desire to apologise to Ms Yaqubi’s family. But as you explain, this is because you want them to forgive you,” said Judge Johnstone before sentencing him to life imprisonment.

Kanwarpal Singh will serve a minimum period of imprisonment of 17 years.

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