New York, Oct 19 (IANS): A Sikh teen who was punched multiple times onboard a Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) bus in New York City said that he was left "angered and shaken by the attack".
The 19-year-old was riding on a shuttle bus on Sunday morning near 118th Street and Liberty Avenue in Richmond Hill when a suspect attacked and attempted to remove his turban.
“I am shaken and angered by this attack. I believe that no one should be assaulted or harassed because of how they look, and everyone should be able to go about their business in public in peace,” the teen said in a statement to the US-based Sikh Coalition.
Wishing to remain anonymous, he thanked “everyone from different communities who have spoken out in support of me as well as the authorities who are taking this hate crime seriously.”
The Sikh Coalition has since connected with the young man to offer legal aid and other support. It remains in contact with both the teen and the New York Police Department (NYPD) about the ongoing investigation into his attacker.
Releasing a picture, the NYPD described the suspect as "a male, 25-35 years of age, dark complexion, slim build, approximately 5'9 tall, with brown eyes and black hair”.
"We don't wear that in this country," the suspect had told the victim, pointing at his turban, following which he punched the young Sikh several times and tried to remove it.
He then got off the bus and fled, the NYPD said, urging the public to help in nabbing the suspect.
“Given that this young Singh’s turban was insulted and targeted during the attack, we are heartened that this incident is being investigated as a hate crime," Sikh Coalition Staff Attorney, Amreen Partap Singh Bhasin, said in a statement.
Highlighting the case of six-year-old Palestinian-American boy Wadea Al-Fayoume in Illinois, who was stabbed 26 times recently in the wake of Israel-Palestine tensions, Bhasin stated that national and international events are contributing to a climate of anxiety among our and other communities
"The fact remains that Sikhs remain disproportionately at risk for attacks like this one, as evidenced by the FBI’s latest hate crime data released just this week," Bhasin said.
Releasing its annual report of hate crimes statistics in 2022 on Monday, the FBI recorded 198 cases of anti-Sikh hate crime victimisations.
Stating that religiously-motivated hate crime victimisations were at their highest with a 17 per cent increase since 2021, the FBI said that Sikhs still remain the second-most targeted group in the nation.