In yet another case of hate crime against an Indian in the US, an elderly Sikh-American man was brutally attacked and allegedly called a "terrorist" and "Bin Laden". The suspect is in custody.
The incident happened in Chicago, just days before the US commemorates the 14th anniversary of the 11 September attacks.
On Tuesday, Inderjit Singh Mukker, a U.S. citizen and father of two, was on his way to a grocery store when a driver began taunting him. He finally pulled over to the side of the road to let him pass but the driver instead pulled up in front of his car, reached into the car and repeatedly punched Mukker in the face. According to PTI, Mukker lost consciousness and a lot of blood and bore a fractured cheekbone.
The assailant also yelled racial slurs, including, "Terrorist, go back to your country, Bin Laden!"
According to information by the Sikh Coalition, a community-based organisation, Mukker was then rushed to a nearby hospital where he had to be sewn up with six stitches.
"No American should be afraid to practise their faith," Mukker told PTI.
The Sikh Coalition's Legal Director Harsimran Kaur said the group believes that Mukker was "targeted and assaulted because of his Sikh religious appearance, race or national origin."
"We request an immediate investigation and call on local and federal agencies to investigate this attack as a hate crime," Kaur said.
Mukker on his part is happy with the swift action taken against the attacker but wants the assault investigated as a hate crime.
"I'm thankful for the authorities' swift response to apprehend the individual but without this being fully investigated as a hate crime, we risk ignoring the horrific pattern of intolerance, abuse and violence that Sikhs and other minority communities in this country continue to face," he said.
Representatives of the Sikh body say the attack follows a similar pattern wherein there is a surge in hate crimes against the the people of the community on the eve of the 9/11.
Last August, Sandeep Singh, a Sikh father in New York City, was run over and dragged 30 feet after being called a "terrorist."
In 2012, a gunman with Neo-Nazi ties walked into a Sikh house of worship (gurdwara) and shot and killed six innocent Sikh victims in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.
Earlier, a blog post in the Huffington Post, noted the "face of ignorance and hate" in America.
"Why is it then that, in our great country that harbors and celebrates diversity, 70 percent of people cannot identify a turban as an integral part of a Sikh? How is it that 49 percent of Americans believe "Sikh" is a sect of Islam when it is in fact its own independent religion? And how is it that 79 percent of Americans cannot identify India as the geographic origin of the Sikh faith? Even though Sikhs have been productive members of the American fabric for well over a hundred years, there still seems to remain a cloud of ignorance and a lack of education around the diversity we so heavily champion," it noted.
With inputs from PTI