The Tribune – Sikh cabbie in US assaulted; loses turban

New York, 18 April 2017. A 25-year-old Sikh cab driver in the US was assaulted and his turban knocked off by drunk passengers, an incident the police are investigating as a possible hate crime.

The incident took place here early Sunday morning and has left Harkirat Singh, an immigrant from Punjab who moved to the US three years ago, scared.

“I’m so afraid. I don’t want to work,” Singh told the New York Daily News. “It’s an insult of my religion, my faith. It’s horrible.” Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted: “Harkirat Singh — You are welcome here. What happened to you was wrong. You did the right thing by calling the NYPD”.

Last week, Sikhs in the US launched a million-dollar campaign aiming to inform Americans about the Sikh faith amid continuous incidents of hate crime.

Singh said he picked up three men and a woman, all in their 20s, around 5 am from Madison Square Garden. When they reached their destination in the Bronx, they began complaining that Singh had taken them to the wrong address.

The passengers were allegedly drunk and could not give Singh a straight answer about where they wanted to go, leaving him “confused”. The passengers then began hurling slurs and banging on the plastic partition in his cab, Singh recalled.

Singh told the group to pay $41.76 and find another cab. While the woman gave him the cash after Singh called 911, 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”.

As the men became violent, Singh got terrified and began to cry, saying he pleaded with the man to calm down. “At that time, I’m so afraid, they can do anything to me. They’re gonna kill me.” With the police on the way, the group ran away from the scene with Singh’s turban.

The incident occurred just hours after thousands of Sikhs had gathered at Times Square for the ‘Turban day’ event organised by a Sikh group to spread awareness about the faith. The report said police sources described the suspect as a clean-shaven white Hispanic man in his 20s, around 5-foot-9. Singh was able to snap a photo of two of the passengers. (PTI)


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