47-year-old Sikh man shot dead in New Jersey: family suspects hate crime

Davinder Singh, 47 was shot dead at his gas station in Newark, New Jersey May 30th in an obvious hate crime.
Davinder Singh, 47 was shot dead at his gas station in Newark, New Jersey May 30th in an obvious hate crime.

NEWARK, NJ (TIP): A Sikh man was shot dead at his gas station in Newark, New Jersey, May 30th, in an incident described as a hate crime by his family, who believe he was killed because of his religion.

Police said they found Davinder Singh, the 47-year-old victim who came to the US from India 25 years ago, unresponsive at his gas station on Monday. He was pronounced dead at a hospital.

His son, Jatinder Singh, told a TV news network, “There was no robbery, no struggle, no confrontation. I don’t know what else it could be other than a hate crime.”

His father had just stepped out of office to get some fresh air when a man “came up to my dad, pointed a gun and shot him point-blank”, Jatinder said.

Police have not yet called the shooting a hate crime.

Sikhs have been the target of many hate crime incidents since the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, most of them men mistaken for people from the Middle East for their turban. More than 300 incidences of hate crimes against Sikhs have since been reported, according to the Sikh Coalition. Below is a list of hate crimes and bias incidents against Sikhs since 9/11.

Sept. 15, 2001 — Mesa, Ariz.: Four days after the infamous attacks of 9/11, Balbir Singh Sodhi, a 49-year-old Sikh, is shot and killed outside the gas station he owned by Frank Silva Roque.
When police approached to arrest him, Roque said, “I’m a patriot and an American. I’m American. I’m a damn American.”

Nov. 18, 2001 — Palermo, N.Y.: Three teens burn down Gobind Sadan, a gurdwara (Sikh temple) in New York, because they thought it was named for Osama bin Laden.

Dec. 12, 2001 — Los Angeles, CA: Surinder Singh Sidhi, a liquor store owner in Los Angeles who took to wearing an American flag turban after 9/11 out of fear of being attacked, is beaten in his store by two men who accuse of him of being Osama bin Laden.

Aug. 6, 2002 — Daly City, CA: Sukhpal Singh, brother of Balbir Singh Sodhi, who was the first Sikh murdered following 9/11, is shot while driving his cab.

May 20, 2003 — Phoenix, Ariz.: Fifty-two-year-old Sikh immigrant and truck driver Avtar Singh is shot in his 18-wheeler while waiting for his son to pick him up. As he is being shot, he hears someone say: “Go back to where you belong.”

Aug. 5, 2003 — Queens, N.Y.: Members of a Sikh family are beaten outside of their home by drunk individuals yelling, “Go back to your country, Bin Laden.”

Sept. 25, 2003 — Tempe, Ariz.: Sukhvir Singh, a 33-year-old convenience store owner, is stabbed to death by Bruce Phillip Reed. It is not labeled as a hate crime. Representatives of the Phoenix Sikh community issue a statement that says, in part, “Together we can help others to evolve past hate and fear by continuing to organize to reach out to others with increased understanding, respect, and support. May our collective prayer be that God preserve and protect the honor of all people, our nation, and our world.”

March 13, 2004 — Fresno, Calif.: Gurdwara Sahib, a local Sikh temple, is vandalized with graffiti messages: “Rags Go Home” and “It’s Not Your Country.

July 12, 2004 — New York, N.Y.: Rajinder Singh Khalsa and Gurcharan Singh, cousins on their way to dinner at a restaurant, are beaten by two drunk white twentysomething men. The attackers describe Gurcharan’s turban as a “curtain.” When Rajinder tries to intervene, saying that Sikhs are peaceful, he is beaten unconscious and suffers a fractured eye socket, among other injuries.

May 24, 2007 — Queens, N.Y.: A 15-year-old student has his hair forcibly cut by an older student at his high school. The scissor-wielding 17-year-old showed the Sikh a ring inscribed with Arabic, saying, “This ring is Allah. If you don’t let me cut your hair, I will punch you with this ring.” Afterward, he cuts the younger boy’s hair. A main pillar of the Sikh faith compels followers to keep their hair uncut.

May 30, 2007 — Joliet, Ill.: A decorated U.S. Navy veteran of the Gulf War, Kuldip Singh Nag is approached by a police officer outside of his home for an expired vehicle registration tag. The officer reportedly assaults Nag with pepper spray while hurling expletive-laced anti-immigrant statements.

Jan. 14, 2008 — New Hyde Park, N.Y.: A 63-year-old Sikh, Baljeet Singh, has his jaw and nose broken when attacked outside his temple by a man who lived next-door. David Wood, the attacker, had apparently disturbed members of the gurdwara in the past.

Feb. 28, 2008 — Bryan, Texas: A Sikh man is assaulted in a Wal-Mart parking lot. Though the assailant called him a terrorist, punched him in the face and head and knocked his turban off, the Sikh man does not suffer major injuries.

June 5, 2008 — Queens, N.Y.: A ninth grade Sikh is attacked by another student, who tried to remove his patka, or under-turban, and had a history of bullying the boy.

June 5, 2008 — Albuquerque, N.M.: A vehicle belonging to a Sikh family is defaced with the message “F*** Allah!” and a picture of male genitalia.

Aug. 4, 2008 — Phoenix, Ariz.: Inderjit Singh Jassal is shot and killed while working at a 7-Eleven. No clear motive is found.

Oct. 29, 2008 — Carteret, N.J.: A Sikh man, Ajit Singh Chima, goes for a walk in his neighborhood. He is attacked by a man who casually leaves the scene afterward. Nothing is stolen.

Jan. 30, 2009 — Queens, N.Y.: Three men attack Jasmir Singh outside of a grocery store. Racial slurs are heard. A broken glass bottle is used. Singh loses vision in his left eye.

Nov. 29, 2010 — Sacramento, CA.: Harbhajan Singh, a cab driver, is attacked by passengers, who call him Osama bin Laden. Singh believes the attackers, who were later convicted, would have killed him.

March 6, 2011 — Elk Grove, CA.: Two elderly Sikh men in traditional garb, out for a daily afternoon walk, are shot and killed. The perpetrator is not found.
May 30, 2011 — New York, N.Y.: Jiwan Singh, an MTA worker and the father of Jasmir Singh, who was assaulted in early 2009 in Queens, is attacked on the A train and accused of being related to Osama bin Laden.

Feb. 6, 2012 — Sterling Heights, Mich.: A gurdwara (Sikh temple) is defaced with graffiti that includes a gun and references to 9/11.

Aug. 5, 2012 — Oak Creek, Wis.: A gunman is shot dead by police after he opened fire in a gurdwara during Sikh prayer services, killing six.

In the outrage following the killing of six Sikhs at a Wisconsin gurudwara in 2012 by a white supremacist, the FBI has begun tracking hate crimes against the community.

FBI is the lead investigating agency in hate crimes, defined as traditional offences like murder, arson, or vandalism with “an added element of bias”.

Meanwhile, Davinder Singh was cremated, according to Sikh traditional rites, June 2. A large number of community attended the cremation.

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