An iron bar was used to viciously attack a fragile Sikh man in his 80s, outside a Gurdwara in the US, in what is suspected to be a hate crime.
According to local media reports, Piara Singh, an 82 year-old Sikh man, was severely beaten on 5 May with an iron bar outside Gurdwara Nanaksar Sahib in Fresno, California.
Piara sustained significant injuries, including head injuries, broken bones and ribs, and a collapsed lung, say reports. The suspect was arrested at the scene and the police are investigating the incident as a potential hate crime, a US-based community group (the Sikh Coalition) said in a statement.
Piara remains in the hospital in serious condition. The local Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Fresno Police Department convened a community meeting at Gurdwara Nanaksar Sahib, where the police chief identified the suspect as Gilbert Garcia.
Piara is still unconscious, with 20 stitches and broken bones and ribs, according to media reports.
“This is a hate crime,” Gurdev Singh Muhar, a priest of the Fresno Gurdwara told local media.
The incident has shocked ethnic community groups who are speaking out and expressing solidarity.
“We stand with the Sikh community in rejecting the religious and ethnic hatred that leads to such brutal and cowardly attacks,” said Basim Elkarra, executive director of the Sacramento Valley chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
A Sikh community group has appealed to show courage. “As always, we urge all Sikhs to practice their faith fearlessly,” said The Sikh Coalition. “If you or someone you know ever experiences violence or even a threat of violence, please report the incident to your local police department immediately by dialing 9-1-1.”
With a little less than 500,000 population, Fresno is multi-ethnic Californian town with 1.7% Indian population, and 50% white people.