Another Sikh student assaulted in New York

June 5th, 2008 - 12:47 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, June 5 (IANS) A ninth grade Sikh student of a school here was attacked by a fellow student in another instance of Sikhs becoming targets of hate crime in the US. The accused and the Sikh student, who was being bullied for some time, were both studying in the Richmond Hill High School in Queens borough. The accused has been arrested and suspended from school.

According to the authorities, the bully tried to remove his Sikh classmate’s ‘patka’ (a simpler form of turban worn by young Sikhs) from behind.

While the victim tried to hold onto his patka, he was reportedly hit on the face with keys.

The victim sustained injuries, including bruises and swelling that resulted in a trip to the hospital. Fortunately the keys missed the Sikh student’s eyes.

“It is disconcerting to learn that the administration at the school failed to take reports of bullying seriously,” said Baljit Kaur, a coordinator at United Sikhs, an advocacy group based in New York.

The victim had previously complained to the teacher, and repeatedly, that the attacker was bullying him. The bully allegedly teased, tugging on his beard and asking why he does not shave.

His parents had brought the situation to the attention of the school counsellor.

The school called the victim’s parents after the attack.

“United Sikhs will work to ensure that the school takes the incident seriously and administers fitting punishment to the bully,” said Jaspreet Singh, staff attorney of the group.

United Sikhs said in a statement that it was issuing a letter to the school, urging its officials to take the assault seriously and to take the necessary precautions to prevent such occurrences.

The victim did not attend school Wednesday. The family said he was recovering from the physiological and psychological damage incurred by the assault.

The advocacy group has offered the victim and his family support in seeking redress and has scheduled a meeting with school administrators and the victim’s family Friday.

Sikh students getting bullied is a well-documented phenomenon stemming from fear, ignorance and misunderstanding concerning the Sikh appearance, particularly in the case of the Sikh turban, which is worn as an article of faith, United Sikhs said.

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