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Indian eateries in NZ vandalized

Two restaurants owned by NRI Sunny Grewal in NZ were targets of vandalism and arson last week.

india Updated: Nov 30, 2006 19:48 IST

Two Indian restaurants in New Zealand were targets of vandalism and arson last week, but its owners have ruled out racism as the motive.

Sunny Grewal, who, along with his two brothers run the Pankawalla and India Today restaurants in New Plymouth, said that in all his years in New Zealand he had never faced the problem of racism.

"We have been six years in New Plymouth, and seven-and-a-half years in New Zealand, and I think not even once has there been any problem here," Grewal told the Taranaki Daily News.

A fire at the Pankawalla restaurant last Sunday morning caused damages to the tune of NZ$200,000. The owners also found cash and other items missing from the restaurant after the incident. Vandals also targeted the India Today restaurant at around the same time.

Grewal also expressed his gratitude to the people of New Plymouth for their support after the incident, adding that he couldn't have expected this in Australia, where the three brothers had grown up.

The main city in the Taranaki region of New Zealand's North Island, New Plymouth, has a population of less than 50,000. Asians, including ethnic Indians, comprise less than two percent of the city's population.

"I've had phone calls from people we don't even know," Grewal told the newspaper. "I don't think it's racist at all - but maybe it's something we don't know."

The brothers' partner, Depak Ahluwalia, said the Grewals are very upset.

"They have put their heart and soul into it (the restaurants)," the Daily News report quoted him as saying.

Insurance assessor Andrew Brooke said that work on rebuilding the Pankawalla would be carried out as quickly as possible with the resources available. "We've made some inquiries today and there are people willing to help us. A surprising number of people have stuck their heads in the door to offer help," he said.

Meanwhile, New Plymouth police said that investigations into the incidents are still at an early stage.

First Published: Nov 30, 2006 19:48 IST