Sikh Uber driver held at gunpoint, racially abused by passenger in US; activists demand strict action against accused

New York: A Sikh Uber driver was allegedly held at gunpoint by a passenger who said "I hate turban people" and asked racial questions regarding his nationality and his allegiance to the US, media reports said.

The sheriff’s office in Illinois is investigating the assault on Gurjeet Singh, the Uber driver, who reported the incident to police on 29 January, the Washington Post reported.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

The advocacy organisation Sikh Coalition says that the passenger pointed a gun at the driver and said, “I hate turban people. I hate beard people,” the report said.

After meeting with Rock Island County Sheriff Gerry Bustos on Wednesday the leaders of the organisation expressed frustration, that the passenger has not been arrested since the attack.

Bustos told the Post that he expects to charge the suspect with aggravated assault and perhaps further charges by week’s end after he receives information that the sheriff’s office has requested from Uber through a search warrant, it said.

Investigators have interviewed the driver, the suspect and another passenger who was in the car, Bustos said.

He said that the driver picked up the two passengers together in Moline, Illinois and began to drive them toward their destination. The male passenger and the driver got into an argument, he said.

“The argument was about where people’s loyalties lie. There was an argument over where people were from,” he said.

The Sikh Coalition said that the male passenger started asking Singh, the driver, a series of questions: “What is your status here? Which country do you belong to? Do you serve your country or do you serve our country?”

Singh, a legal US resident who does not speak fluent English, said he serves the United States and India because his parents live there. Then, Singh said, the passenger put a gun to his head and said he hated “turban people,” the report said.

Sikh men in America, repeatedly mistaken for Muslims because of their appearance, have been the victims of numerous hate crimes — including a man murdered immediately after 9/11 by an assailant who said he thought his victim was Arab, and six members of a Sikh temple in Wisconsin killed in a mass shooting.

Also, a nationwide million-dollar campaign was launched by Sikhs in the US to spread awareness and address the “collective misunderstanding” over the minority community amid a spike in hate crimes against them in the country.

The ‘We are Sikhs’ campaign was launched by the National Sikh Campaign (NSC), a non-profit organisation.


Updated Date: Feb 19, 2018 15:19 PM

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