09/08/2016 10:25 AM IST | Updated 09/08/2016 1:11 PM IST

American Car Dealer Doesn't Sell Mercedes To Indian-American Because He Might Export It To Taliban

The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.

Michaela Rehle / Reuters
The Mercedes-Benz logo

Racism can often be the greatest leveller of all. It does not matter how much money you have or where you are from or how much of a model citizen you are, when your skin is of the wrong colour. If you are brown, if you have a beard, or if you wear a hijab, you are either a terrorist or a terrorist sympathiser.

In another such case, a car dealer in the United States refused to sell a Mercedes-Benz vehicle to a man of Indian origin. Now, we could all think hard trying to figure out why, but that would be a pointless exercise because the reason is so obvious. He would sell it to the Taliban, of course.

As reported by the Times Herald-Record, Surjeet Bassi, who has been a resident of Wallkill, New Jersey for 30 years, was refused the car by Prestige Motors because the manager was worried that Bassi would export the car to the Taliban.

Bloomberg via Getty Images
Mercedes-Benz 2012 M-Class

Bassi, who is 50 years old, went to the car dealer to exchange his Mercedes Benz ML350 for a newer model and chose Prestige Motors because they were giving a better deal and had the black interior on the SUV that he wanted. The deal was halfway through -- he had negotiated with the salesman, the credit check was done, $1,000 in down payment had been charged, and even Bassi's personal bank statements had been vetted. As mentioned in Times Herald-Record, Bassi had called his insurance company to make the necessary arrangements, when the manager called him and refused to sell the car.

The manager informed Bassi that he came from a "high-risk area", where people exported cars to the Taliban. The vigilant manager had also looked up Bassi's name in the federal database but found nothing.

As reported, Bassi had even been willing to sign a waiver to not export his car for three years.

Bassi was "heartbroken" at the treatment meted out to him and the fact that he could be associated with terrorists. His attorney, Michael Sussman, claimed that "the case is part of a larger pattern of discrimination against immigrants and those who look different".

The luxury car dealership has been sued for $1.26 million.