NEW YORK: A 68-year-old Sikh man was attacked Saturday, December 26, morning west of Highway 99 in what Fresno police are investigating as a hate crime – the latest such attack on a Sikh resident in the Fresno area.
Around 6:30 a.m., Amrik Singh Bal, 68, was waiting alone for a ride to work in the cold, 30-degree fog on Shields Avenue between Brawley and Blythe avenues when he was assaulted by two persons in California.
Two white males stopped their car in front of Bal and started yelling obscenities at him, said Fresno police Sgt. Greg Noll. Fearing for his safety, Bal attempted to cross the street. It was then that the suspects backed up their car, hitting Bal with their back bumper, Noll said.
The two men then got out of the car and attacked Mr Bal, hitting him in the face and upper body. Mr Bal fell to the ground and hit his head.
During the assault, one of the suspects yelled “Why are you here?”
The suspects fled only after they heard another vehicle approaching.
Mr Bal, who was taken to a local hospital, suffered abrasions to his nose and right hand and a broken collar bone.
Noll said police have started a hate-related criminal investigation into the attack on Mr Bal adding that the Fresno police would coordinate with the Department of Homeland Security and FBI to solve this case.
“Sikhs have been mistaken for terrorists and radicals and continue to suffer after 9/11,” member of the Sikh Council of Central California Ike Iqbal Grewal said.
Rights group The Sikh Coalition said its thoughts and prayers go out to Mr Bal and his family.
“We are quickly investigating and will share updates when we have them,” it said.
Racism & Hate Crimes on a rise
The attack is the latest in a line of hate crimes against Sikhs in America.
Earlier this month, a Gurudwara in California was vandalised with hateful graffiti, including the word ‘ISIS’, in the aftermath of the mass shootings in San Bernardino.
In September, a Sikh American father was viciously assaulted in a suburb outside of Chicago after being called ‘Bin Laden’.
In May 2013, 82-year-old Piara Singh was attacked outside the Nanaksar Sikh Temple in south Fresno by a man who later allegedly made inflammatory comments about Muslims.
The alleged assailant, Gilbert Garcia Jr., later pleaded no contest to a hate crime and was sentenced to 13 years in state prison.