'Deeply disturbing': Indian Consulate in New York condemns assault on elderly Sikh man

PTIUpdated: Tuesday, April 05, 2022, 10:46 AM IST
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New York: The Consulate General of India in New York has condemned the assault on an elderly Sikh man here, terming it as "deeply disturbing," and said they were in touch with the police who are investigating this heinous hate crime.

Nirmal Singh, believed to be in his 70s, was reportedly punched in the unprovoked assault on Sunday morning in Richmond Hill in Queens.

Images shared on social media showed Singh with a bloodied turban, face and clothes that has shocked the Indian community.

The Consulate tweeted on Monday that it is "deeply disturbed" by this incident.

"We condemn the violent attack and are in touch" with the New York Police Department and local authorities who are investigating the matter. We are also in touch with local community organisations to ensure the well-being of the victim," the Indian Consulate General said in a tweet on Monday.

New York Police Commissioner Keechant Sewell said that NYPD Chief of Detectives James Essig is investigating this case.

"Together in every community, we denounce violence in our city - and the person(s) responsible will be apprehended," Sewell said.

The police have asked anyone with information about the attack to call the department.

A report in Spectrum News NY1 said that Singh was allegedly repeatedly punched on the face by an unknown attacker around 6:45 am on Sunday.

According to Singh's translator Harpreet Singh Toor, the attacker "approached" Singh from behind and fled the scene, the report said.

The news report added that Singh is a "tourist visiting from India" and he was able to walk back after the assault to the cultural centre, where he has been staying since he arrived in New York.

Singh was transported to a local hospital where he has been receiving treatment, the report said.

Community-based civil and human rights organisation, The Sikh Coalition, said that Singh has been retained with the group to provide him with free legal aid.

The organisation said it is currently in touch with the NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force.

The task force has "confirmed that they are investigating the assault" as a "hate crime," The Sikh Coalition said, adding that it has also provided law enforcement video footage of the attack to help them in their investigation.

The Sikh Coalition said it is deeply grateful to the community leaders in Richmond Hill and allied organisations across the country who have rallied around Singh.

Earlier, the organisation had said that with the assistance of local community leaders, it had made "indirect contact" with Singh.

"We are extremely disturbed by the violent and heart-breaking images that are being shared on social media platforms. As we continue learning more about what happened and any potential motivating factors, we encourage everyone to pause on sharing the name/image of the community member involved until somebody with direct access to the individual confirms consent and corroborates reported details," the organisation had said in early tweets.

The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY), the nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organisation, also condemned the attack on Singh.

It said that according to police, the alleged attacker did not say anything during the attack and fled the scene.

"We condemn this attack on a member of the Sikh community and urge law enforcement authorities to do everything they can to bring the alleged perpetrator to justice," CAIR-NY Executive Director Afaf Nasher said.

"Religious, racial and ethnic minorities are increasingly being targeted by hate, and members of those minority communities must be able to go about their daily business without fear of harassment or attack." Queens Borough President Donovan Richards also tweeted that his office is aware of the "incident in Richmond Hill" and is contacting the New York City Police Department to learn more details about this reported attack.

"Our thoughts are with him and we wish for nothing less than a full recovery," he said.

In January this year, a Sikh taxi driver was assaulted at JFK International Airport here, with the attacker allegedly calling him "turbaned people" and asking him to "go back to your country".

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