Sikh bus driver in Los Angeles assaulted, branded terrorist

The hate crime left Balwinder Jit Singh in the hospital with a black eye, swollen and bruised face and jaw, and an infection in his eye.

By: PTI | Washington | Updated: January 14, 2016 2:34:55 pm

A Sikh bus driver in Los Angeles was brutally assaulted and called a terrorist and a suicide bomber, the victim’s representatives said today over two months after the incident was reported to the police.

The Sikh Coalition group is representing the victim Balwinder Jit Singh, who worked as a bus driver for 17 years.

While he was being beaten by a passenger on November 6, Singh kept his foot on the brake of his bus to ensure the safety of the pedestrians and passengers.

The assault left Singh in the hospital with a black eye, swollen and bruised face and jaw, and an infection in his eye. “Two months later, he continues to suffer from blurred vision and pain,” the Sikh Coalition said.

Singh — who is on the board of a recently-vandalised Gurdwara in Buena Park — has retained the Sikh Coalition to represent him in the ongoing criminal investigation. Although he immediately reported the incident to the police, he delayed going public because he didn’t know how to do so until he contacted the Sikh Coalition.

“I know that sharing my story sheds further light on the bigotry and hatred faced by communities across the nation. These crimes cannot be tolerated,” he said in a statement issued through the Sikh Coalition.

According to Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office, the individual responsible is currently in custody with the Los Angeles Police Department in a different criminal case. Police say the suspect potentially faces only misdemeanour assault charges for attacking Singh.

“These charges fail to capture the violent nature of the attack — and the anti-Sikh bias that precipitated it,” the statement said, adding that the Sikh Coalition’s legal team is working with the local sheriff’s department and the FBI to push for a hate crime investigation and prosecution. “In the face of hateful rhetoric and the current climate of fear, we must ensure that all bias-based incidents are thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators brought to justice,” said the Sikh Coalition’s senior staff attorney Gurjot Kaur.

“We cannot fight hate if law enforcement agencies ignore or fail to recognise hate crimes,” she added.

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