As hate crimes against the country continue to increase, people of East Asian descent are not the only victims. Asians across the country are being attacked without provocation. Most recently, a 70-year-old Sikh man visiting from India was brutally attacked in an incident being investigated as a possible hate crime, officials with the New York City Department and a Sikh-American advocacy group said.
Identified as Nirmal Singh by the Sikh Coalition, the man was left bruised and covered in blood, evidenced in a photo of the incident that has gone viral, sparking rage on social media. According to NBC News, Singh had only been in Queens for two weeks.
According to police officials, Singh was on a walk back to his temple when he was suddenly punched in the face around 6:45 AM Sunday “by an unidentified individual.” He then fell to the ground. The attacker did not say anything to him.
“It was horrific and heartbreaking to see an elderly man in such bad shape,” Gurinder Singh, who saw the victim sitting outside the cultural center minutes after the attack, told CNN. “People come to America to get a better life, but then something like this happens.”
As a result of the incident, Singh suffered a broken nose and severe bruising, United Sikhs, an international humanitarian organization taking on his case pro-bono, said on Twitter.
“Singh’s experience is another example of how innocents are target of hatred,” United Sikhs said.
On Twitter Monday the Sikh Coalition said they were in touch with the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force regarding the incident and provided video footage of the attack to aid in the probe. At this time, no arrests have been made.
“Mr. Singh is shaken and still feeling pain from his injuries, but he is gradually recovering,” Graham F. West, the communications director of The Sikh Coalition, said. “He is very grateful to everyone who has stepped forward to help him and express solidarity,” he added.
Multiple officials condemned the attack, including New York Attorney General Letitia James who tweeted: “Assaulting a member of the Sikh community is despicable, and it’s an attack on all of us as New Yorkers.”
The incident follows another attack earlier this year in January, during which a Sikh taxi driver was assaulted at JFK International Airport. The incident was also considered a hate crime because the attacker not only assaulted the driver but shouted, “Go back to your country!” amongst other derogatory phrases, including referring to him as “turbaned people,” Daily Kos reported.
According to data compiled by the FBI, between 2019 to 2020 attacks against the AAPI community rose by 73%. Additionally, last year, a Sikh Coalition analysis of FBI data found that anti-Sikh hate crimes in 2020 were at their highest level since they were first tracked in 2015. The data also indicated that hate crimes against all people of color had seen the highest increase this year.
In a statement to NBC News, Giselle Klapper, the Sikh Coalition senior staff attorney, said: “Everyone should feel safe enough to simply go for a walk, but the continued rise in hate crimes and bias incidents is increasingly making that impossible for far too many people.”
“No one deserves to be targeted by hate because of how they look, how they worship, or any other reason,” she added. “We are glad that the NYPD is investigating this incident as a hate crime, because approaching these incidents with bias in mind is the first step to reducing violent hate among our communities.”
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