- Gulzar Singh and Sajan Singh were attacked 10 minutes apart on April 12th.
- Residents are fearful in a quiet Queens neighborhood.
- 2 men have been arrested in connection with the attacks.
New York: The South Asian community in New York has been shaken in recent weeks by a string of hate crimes against Sikh men in Richmond Hill, a neighbourhood sometimes called Little Punjab that is home to a large Sikh community and a prominent Sikh temple. According to sources, within 10 days, 3 Sikhs were attacked in the New York City block. Residents are fearful in a quiet Queens neighbourhood, where younger Sikhs have begun to escort their elders to the temple.
Gulzar Singh was walking to work on Tuesday morning, chatting with his wife on a video call, when he was attacked. Two men beat the 45-year-old Sikh across the back of the head, ripped off his turban and left him bleeding on the sidewalk. Ten minutes later, on the same block, another Sikh man, Sajan Singh, 58, was attacked from behind by 2 men who beat him, robbed him and ripped off his turban. Nine days earlier, Nirmal Singh, 70, yet another Sikh man, had been assaulted on the same tree-lined street.
“I thought the first attack was isolated and did not think anything beyond that,” said Gulzar Singh, a construction worker who came to the United States from India in 2015. The second round of attacks that happened on the same morning as the mass shooting that injured at least 23 people on the subway in Brooklyn, has left many Sikhs deeply afraid, said Stack and Asma-Sadeque.
Two men have been arrested in connection with the attacks. Vernon Douglas, 19 and Hezekiah Coleman, 20 were charged with assault as a hate crime, robbery and aggravated harassment, in connection with the April 4th attack. According to the latest FBI hate crimes report, 94 anti-Sikh incidents were reported to law enforcement in 2020. Earlier in April, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar too had raised the issue of attacks on Sikhs in America during his US visit.