British Columbia: A group of unidentified men attacked a 21-year-old Sikh student from India in Canada’s British Columbia province on Friday night. The men ripped off his turban and dragged him across the sidewalk by his hair.
The student, Gagandeep Singh, was attacked while he was returning home on Friday, CTV news reported. His screams were heard by Councillor Mohini Singh who went to see him shortly after the incident.
“I was horrified when I saw him. He could only speak in soft tones and he couldn’t open his mouth,” she told the news channel. She added that his eyes were swollen shut and that he was in significant pain.
Gagandeep was heading home around 10:30 pm after grocery shopping when he encountered a group of between 12 and 15 other young people on the bus. It was St. Patrick’s Day and a rowdy group was on the bus.
Eyewitness narrates horror
“They were harassing him and they threw the wig at him. He told them not to bother him or he would call the police, and they continued to harass him,” she said.
Gagandeep got off the bus and they got off after him. After the bus left, they swarmed him. “They beat him in his face, in his ribs, arms, and legs and then proceeded to grab his turban, pull his hair and drag him,” Mohini Singh said. The group took the turban with them when they left Gagandeep in a pile of “dirty snow” on the side of the road.
“Taking his turban was the worst, it feels like they’ve taken it as a trophy.”
After he regained consciousness, Gagandeep called a friend who came to the scene and called 911. The incident left Gagandeep’s friends and fellow international students shaken and scared. A number of students gathered at the bus stop Sunday where they spoke out about how they feel less safe in their community.
The councillor says the fact that Gangandeep is Sikh and from India was “undoubtedly” a factor in the assault.
“I entirely believe this is racism and it should be treated as that. It should be looked at through the lens of being a hate crime. This is so wrong on so many levels. This is not something that is acceptable anywhere — not in Kelowna, not anywhere,” she said. “This is intolerable, it’s absolutely disgusting.”