In another shocking incident of hate crime, a 25-year old Sikh cab driver, was assaulted, and his turban was knocked off by drunken passengers.
The incident which happened on early Sunday morning, has left the victim, Harkirat Singh, scared. Harkirat is an immigrant from Punjab, who moved to the US, three years ago.
Singh reported a news channel, saying, “I’m so afraid. I don’t want to work.” “It’s an insult on my religion, also. An insult of my faith. It’s horrible.”
The New York Police Department (NYPD), are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime. Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted in his support, saying “Harkirat Singh? You are welcome here. What happened to you was wrong. You did the right thing by calling the NYPD.”
Harkirat Singh — You are welcome here. What happened to you was wrong. You did the right thing by calling the NYPD. https://t.co/Vah9tXRLHf— Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) April 18, 2017
The Sikhs in the US, last week, launched a million-dollar awareness campaign aiming to inform Americans about the Sikh faith amid continuous incidents of hate crime against the community.
Singh said, that he picked up three men and a woman, all in their 20s, at around 5 a.m. Sunday from Madison Square Garden. When they reached their destination in the Bronx, the youth started complaining that Singh had taken them to the wrong address. Singh said, as the passengers were drunk and not able to give him a proper answer about their whereabouts, which has left him confused. The passengers, then started hurling insults, and began banging on the plastic partition in his cab. They were using bad words, also called him “Ali Baba”, recalled Singh.
Singh told the group to pay USD 41.76 and find another cab. After Singh called 911, the women gave him the cash, while one of the men got back into the cab and tried to smash the meter. Then he punched Singh in the arm, he said. “After that, he picked off my turban from my head,” he said. “He wanted to snatch my phone also.It was too horrible.” Singh got terrified and began to cry, as the men became violent. He further pleaded the man to calm down. “Why are you doing this, brother? We can sit. We can talk,” he recalled telling the unruly passenger. “At that time, I’m so afraid they can do anything to me. They’re gonna kill me.” The group, ran away from the scene, with Singh's turban, with the police on its way, The turban among the Sikhs is a primary symbol of their faith.
The incident occurred just hours after thousands of Sikhs had gathered at Times Square for the “Turban day” event organized by a Sikh group to spread awareness about the faith.
The police sources described the suspect as a clean-shaven white Hispanic man in his 20s, around 5-foot-9, says reports. The police said they are only seeking only one suspect, though they would like to speak to the other three passengers. Singh filed a report with the police, and was able to take a photo of two of the passengers.
Chairman of the Public Policy and External Affairs at The Sikh Cultural Society, Harpreet Singh Toor, said, the theft reflected the harm against Sikhs, who often targeted in anti-Muslim bias, despite following a different faith. “I used to get mad now I laugh at it, because if we are still ignorant about other faiths, who will make those people understand?” he said.
The Sikhs are more likely targeted in cases of profiling, bigotry and backlash than the average American, since the 9/11 terror attacks, over the years. In a recent incident of hate crime, a Sikh man was shot near Seattle last month after the gunman allegedly told him to “go back to your own country.”