16/09/2015 10:42 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:25 AM IST

American Man Sentenced To 13 Years In Jail For Hate Crime Against Elderly Sikh In 2013

David McNew via Getty Images
395648 07: Sikh men carry patriotic placards at a community service to remember victims of terrorist attacks, October 10, 2001 in Santa Ana, CA.Although Sikhs are not Muslims and come from India, they have been targeted in recent hate crimes because the men wear turbans and beards similar to terrorist suspect Osama bin Laden. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON -- An American man has been sentenced to 13 years in prison on charges of hate crime, for brutally hitting an 82-year-old Sikh with a steel rod outside a gurdwara in the US state of California two years ago.

Piara Singh had just finished preparing meals for the lungar (community kitchen), when Gilbert Garcia spotted him outside a Southwest Fresno gurdwara. Garcia screamed something about the Taliban and Muslims as he attacked Singh.

Local prosecutors treated the incident on 5th May, 2013 as a hate crime.

Singh was hospitalised for more than a week with head wounds, broken ribs and lung lacerations.

"It stands to reason from common sense that anyone who would engage in this type of horrific behaviour would be someone who is classified as not necessarily being normal," said Fresno County Superior Court Judge Alvin Harrell III. "The bottom line is justice was meted out today and in our community, if you're going to commit a hate crime, you're going to go to prison," said prosecutor Tim Donovan.

"Justice has been served. Not only does the victim and his family have closure, but so does the entire Sikh community because there was an acknowledgement that a hate crime had occurred," Ike Grewal a local Sikh community activist told local media outlets.

According to Grewal, Garcia made racial slurs about Muslims and told Singh: "I'm going to destroy your mosque".

Sikhs he said, continue to be mistaken as terrorists because the media tends to show instances of terrorist attacks and images of the terrorists wearing turbans.

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