(Written by Kamal Preet Kaur)
The Sikh community in the UK has since Wednesday been rallying together on social media to express outrage against the hate crime faced by a young school boy from the community in Telford, Shropshire. In a video circulated widely on social media, a young Sikh boy is seen being assaulted by two others in school uniform as he was walking back home from class. The boy’s turban was also pulled off, he was pushed to the ground and pinned down.
The incident is believed to have taken place on November 13. The incident, which was initially being labelled as a ‘bullying incident’, was then recorded as the ‘hate crime’ by the local police. West Mercia Police confirmed that the incident was being treated “as a hate crime and with utmost seriousness.” The boys involved in the incident had been identified and their enquiries continued, including joint working between their youth offending team and the school to ensure suitable action was taken, said Superintendent Jim Baker in a statement.
“Although the incident did not take place during the normal school hours of the school day, we have taken full responsibility for working with all students involved and the wider school community to prevent any further such incident from occurring.The school is also working closely with the local Sikh community and its leaders at this time,” reads a statement from the Charlton School.
Jay Singh-Sohal, Police and Crime Commissioner candidate in neighbouring West Midlands region and is working to tackle hate crime told the Indian Express, “This was an appalling attack but the Sikh community have strongly rallied to support the young school boy affected. What I find most concerning is the incident took two weeks to come to light and for the school and police to put out a statement. I urge anyone who is being bullied or suffering from such violence or intimidation to be brave and step forward soonest to report it so we can tackle rising hate issue.”
“We have written to the school and have offered support to the affected family. Whilst schools and work places have established anti-bullying policies and there is legislation in place, we keep hearing of disturbing reports of such incidents where race and faith is a factor. There were three further incidents reported yesterday through Sikh Helpline and one has been forwarded to the police as hate crime,” said Raj Manvinder Singh Kang, spokesperson of Sikh Council UK (Estd. 2010).
First turbaned Sikh MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi tweeted, “Saddened to see such vile behaviour towards a young boy. Brings back memories of when someone tried to pull off my turban at school. bullying and anti-Sikh hate can’t be tolerated. Looking to Charton School and authorities to take swift action.”
Telford MP Lucy Allan has said that “attack on Sikhs and attacks on Sikh turban are deeply shocking events. Very sadly many Sikhs experience racially motivated abuse and attacks focusing on turban. The turban is a distinct part of the Sikh identity and has spiritual significance which makes such attacks all the more abhorrent.”
Renowned Sikh artist Inkquisitive, dedicated a Facebook post with an artwork, recounting his own painful experiences of prejudice he has faced in life. Addressed as “Dear young brother”, Amandeep wrote, “I saw a disgusting video of some kids bullying you and also in fight, I saw your hair coming loose.Well done for holding your ground and not running away.I’d like you to know that you reminded me of a younger me and that I saw myself in that same video.”
Meanwhile, Sikh Federation UK (SFUK) has written to Secretary of State for Education Gavin Williamson, asking about actions being taken by his department on hate crimes and bullying of Sikh school children due to their visible identity. “We fear thousands of Sikh children regularly face such acts of physical violence and emotional trauma in the educational system that need to be fully investigated and addressed,” states the letter, a copy of which is available with the Indian Express.
“The release of video on social media has highlighted the ever-increasing number of visible Sikh school children who face physical attacks, This should not be happening in 2020 but we fear thousands of Sikh children face such attacks and intimidation and hide this from parents and teachers,” said Bhai Amrik Singh, chair, SFUK.
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