Police Constable Niraj Gurung (inset) speaks in a media briefing regarding Yau Ma Tei operation Thursday. Photo: Google Maps, Facebook/Hong Kong Police

Inspired to follow the call of duty by his Ghurka grandfather, 20-year-old Hong Kong constable Niraj Gurung put his heritage to good use on Wednesday during a dawn raid on an apartment in Yau Ma Tei housing suspected members of an ethnic-Nepalese criminal gang.

Speaking to the 12 suspects in their own language had helped the operation go smoothly, the officer told local media. Relations between Hong Kong police and the city’s diverse multicultural population can be hampered by language barriers: a controversy erupted in a 2009 deadly shooting of a homeless Nepalese man over whether he could have understood the officer’s warnings, which were all in Cantonese.

The arrested men, aged between 16 and 33, are suspected of having been involved in a string of assaults, assaults occasioning actual bodily harm, fighting in public areas, criminal damage and possession of imitation firearms in the Yau Tsim Mong District over the past six months, police said.

Gurung, who moved to Hong Kong at the age of three, joined the police in October 2015 and had been serving in the Tuen Mun police district before being relocated to Yau Ma Tei last week.

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