New York Sikh Assaulted

Balbir Singh, a Sikh, was attacked in Bellerose (an eastern neighborhood in Queens, New York) on New Year’s Eve while seemingly minding his own business. According to Balbir Singh:

My wife and I were moving out of our house, and we had moved everything out and were cleaning the house. . . . I came outside and some guy who was standing on the corner came and punched my head and my eye.

balbirsingh.jpgBalbir Singh [pictured] sustained a fractured eye socket and is unable go back to work for at least a week as the result of his injuries.

Swaranjit Singh — a Sikh who is on a local community board which has jurisdiction over Bellerose — believes the incident was a hate crime. Swaranjit Singh specifically contends that “the event was one of several attacks, verbal and physical, that Sikhs have suffered in the neighborhood.” “There is a lot of ignorance, ignorance creates fear and fear creates hatred. . . . There is a need for tolerance and respect,” Swaranjit Singh added.

The incident may be attributed, perhaps in part, to strained relations between the South Asian immigrant community and those resistant to or uncomfortable with the changing ethnic demographics of this particular area of Queens. (I stress “may” because it is unclear what the motives of the attacker were; indeed, the identity of the masked attacker is still unknown at this point.)

I was able to find only one news article reporting on this incident (it is the source for all of the quotes and information above). If anyone has other details, please share it in the comments. If I learn of anything further, I will update this post as appropriate.


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21 Responses to “New York Sikh Assaulted”

  1. Ikjyot Singh Kohli says:

    I'm sorry, this man is a Sikh from where. Now all the sympathizers to the patit position will leave comments like, "Dude, keeping hair and stuff has nothing to do with being Sikh", good, I'm waiting.

  2. Ikjyot Singh Kohli says:

    I’m sorry, this man is a Sikh from where. Now all the sympathizers to the patit position will leave comments like, “Dude, keeping hair and stuff has nothing to do with being Sikh”, good, I’m waiting.

  3. JP Singh says:

    If i didn't know any better… Balbir could be passed for being a a Spanish, Mexican, Egyptian, Peurtorican… or most common one… a Middle-Eastern.

    I don't think it has anything to do with him looking like a Sikh and everything to do with him looking like a Middle-Eastern.

    Let's all be clear.

    Swaranjit Singh (Turbaned Sikh in the background) should know better but then again, someone has to stand up for Patits… right?

    Now, if Balbir had Dastaar and flowing beard… This would have been a different story.

  4. JP Singh says:

    If i didn’t know any better… Balbir could be passed for being a a Spanish, Mexican, Egyptian, Peurtorican… or most common one… a Middle-Eastern.

    I don’t think it has anything to do with him looking like a Sikh and everything to do with him looking like a Middle-Eastern.

    Let’s all be clear.

    Swaranjit Singh (Turbaned Sikh in the background) should know better but then again, someone has to stand up for Patits… right?

    Now, if Balbir had Dastaar and flowing beard… This would have been a different story.

  5. drdln says:

    “There is a lot of ignorance, ignorance creates fear and fear creates hatred. . . . There is a need for tolerance and respect,”

    Doesn't the remarks above by two sikhs shows the same thing–hatred?

    Farid was right when he said look down in your own lap.–apne girvan mein sir nivan kar dekh. Are we really following message of gurbani..

  6. drdln says:

    There is a lot of ignorance, ignorance creates fear and fear creates hatred. . . . There is a need for tolerance and respect,

    Doesn’t the remarks above by two sikhs shows the same thing–hatred?

    Farid was right when he said look down in your own lap.–apne girvan mein sir nivan kar dekh. Are we really following message of gurbani..

  7. Ikjyot Singh Kohli says:

    drdln, everytime someone wants to sympathize for a patit's situation, they either quote that line from Baba Farid Ji's Bani, or something similar from Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee. But, why doesn't anyone ever quote the fact that Guru Gobind Singh Ji gave his 4 sons, his father, his mother, hundreds and thousands of Khalsa after him so that today Sikhs could keep their hair, and beard, and turban. It's not about judgment, it's just absolutely sickening, how people who cut their hair, and call themselves Sikhs are so ignorant of these historical facts and principles.

  8. Ikjyot Singh Kohli says:

    drdln, everytime someone wants to sympathize for a patit’s situation, they either quote that line from Baba Farid Ji’s Bani, or something similar from Sri Guru Granth Sahib Jee. But, why doesn’t anyone ever quote the fact that Guru Gobind Singh Ji gave his 4 sons, his father, his mother, hundreds and thousands of Khalsa after him so that today Sikhs could keep their hair, and beard, and turban. It’s not about judgment, it’s just absolutely sickening, how people who cut their hair, and call themselves Sikhs are so ignorant of these historical facts and principles.

  9. JP Singh says:

    One thing that just boggles my mind about Patits… i.e. If we say that Guru's Hukum is VaheGuroo ji's Hukum, and VaheGuroo jee is present everywhere, then how can anyone that cuts/ trims/ shave not know that VaheGuroo jee know and sees what he/she is up to. Is that they belligerently deny Guru's Hukum… then why even bother having themselves as Sikh. Do they have no consciousness?… As I said… boggles my mind…

  10. JP Singh says:

    One thing that just boggles my mind about Patits… i.e. If we say that Guru’s Hukum is VaheGuroo ji’s Hukum, and VaheGuroo jee is present everywhere, then how can anyone that cuts/ trims/ shave not know that VaheGuroo jee know and sees what he/she is up to. Is that they belligerently deny Guru’s Hukum… then why even bother having themselves as Sikh. Do they have no consciousness?… As I said boggles my mind

  11. Publius says:

    Let me try to understand the first two comments. They suggest that Balbir Singh is not a Sikh because he does not have a beard and turban, and that he was assaulted most likely because he was perceived to be Middle-Eastern. "[I]f Balbir had Dastaar and flowing beard," the second comment adds, "[t]his would have been a different story."

    Exactly how would things be different?

    Are you saying that: (1) Balbir Singh considers himself to be a Sikh, but does not have a beard and turban, therefore you do not care for this story? Conversely, if Balbir Singh had a beard and turban, we would care?

    (2) I was wrong in describing Balbir Singh as a Sikh because he does not have a beard and turban?

    (3) both (1) and (2)?

    I understand your position regarding who is a Sikh; I'm simply trying to understand how "this would have been a different story" if he had a beard and turban.

    Many thanks in advance for indulging me!

  12. Publius says:

    Let me try to understand the first two comments. They suggest that Balbir Singh is not a Sikh because he does not have a beard and turban, and that he was assaulted most likely because he was perceived to be Middle-Eastern. “[I]f Balbir had Dastaar and flowing beard,” the second comment adds, “[t]his would have been a different story.”

    Exactly how would things be different?

    Are you saying that: (1) Balbir Singh considers himself to be a Sikh, but does not have a beard and turban, therefore you do not care for this story? Conversely, if Balbir Singh had a beard and turban, we would care?

    (2) I was wrong in describing Balbir Singh as a Sikh because he does not have a beard and turban?

    (3) both (1) and (2)?

    I understand your position regarding who is a Sikh; I’m simply trying to understand how “this would have been a different story” if he had a beard and turban.

    Many thanks in advance for indulging me!

  13. JP Singh says:

    Publius ji, to answer your question, I choose No 3.

    Most of the newspapers reporting this news event have gotten in wrong. A simple report should have been, "A middle-eastern looking person claiming to belong to Sikh Religion was attacked by…."

    You see, in my mind, the Sikh identity starts with the obvious appearance that Guru Saab gave us. It is said that you can spot a Sikh in a million Non-Sikhs. That is how Guru Saab made us unique and personally, this gives me power to stand in a million.

    Now, to mix in with millions, all one has to do is to turn their back on Guru Saab's Hukum. That is what Balbir Singh did. But to his disappointment (I guess), he still couldn’t be a part of Millions as he was singled out based on his color of skin and hair. In which case, to state that Balbir's attacker hit him because he was a Sikh is incorrect. In my view, he was attacked because he looked like a middle-eastern as nothing in his appearance (as in the picture above) could obviously suggest that he was a Sikh.

    Now, if Balbir had looked like a Sikh (with Turban and flowing beard), he would have looked different and the attacker would have singled him out based on the Sikh Identity and not his skin and hair color. At that time, I personally would have supported Balbir because the attack was not on a Sikh but also on the Sikh identity.

    Another example… sometime back there was a story that some school students had burnt Sikh Kid’s patka in NJ. Now, if the kid belonged to some other religion or was a Pattit, and someone had burnt his cap, the story would have been different as the attack would have been on the kid but not on the Sikh Identity.

    Hope this answers…

  14. JP Singh says:

    Publius ji, to answer your question, I choose No 3.

    Most of the newspapers reporting this news event have gotten in wrong. A simple report should have been, “A middle-eastern looking person claiming to belong to Sikh Religion was attacked by….”

    You see, in my mind, the Sikh identity starts with the obvious appearance that Guru Saab gave us. It is said that you can spot a Sikh in a million Non-Sikhs. That is how Guru Saab made us unique and personally, this gives me power to stand in a million.

    Now, to mix in with millions, all one has to do is to turn their back on Guru Saab’s Hukum. That is what Balbir Singh did. But to his disappointment (I guess), he still couldnt be a part of Millions as he was singled out based on his color of skin and hair. In which case, to state that Balbir’s attacker hit him because he was a Sikh is incorrect. In my view, he was attacked because he looked like a middle-eastern as nothing in his appearance (as in the picture above) could obviously suggest that he was a Sikh.

    Now, if Balbir had looked like a Sikh (with Turban and flowing beard), he would have looked different and the attacker would have singled him out based on the Sikh Identity and not his skin and hair color. At that time, I personally would have supported Balbir because the attack was not on a Sikh but also on the Sikh identity.

    Another example sometime back there was a story that some school students had burnt Sikh Kids patka in NJ. Now, if the kid belonged to some other religion or was a Pattit, and someone had burnt his cap, the story would have been different as the attack would have been on the kid but not on the Sikh Identity.

    Hope this answers

  15. Publius says:

    JP Singh, thanks for your response. I respect your opinion and will only add a few thoughts in reply.

    The news article came from a non-Sikh site, as a result we may not expect a non-Sikh writer to dissect whether or not someone is a Sikh; if an interviewee says they are a Sikh, the writer is likely to write that the person is Sikh. (Interestingly, Swaranjit Singh, the sardar in the article, agreed that Balbir Singh is a Sikh.)

    Also, I have looked into a fair amount of post-9/11 incidents involving Sikh victims and I have not heard of one in which a Sikh was attacked because they were Sikh. True, if a turbaned Sikh is attacked, we can say the attack was "on" the Sikh identity. But that is different from saying they were attacked "because" they were Sikh. Sadly, I still think many are ignorant as to what Sikh identity is, let alone who a Sikh is.

    As I noted at the outset, I respect your views with respect to who is a Sikh. I would only say that whether a person has a turban and flowing beard does not necessarily mean they are a Sikh in compliance with the Rehit. For example, I know of turbaned Sikhs who drink, do drugs, rarely go to gurdwara, and have very limited knowledge of Sikh doctrine. As a result, I would not equate a person with a turban and beard with a Sikh. In that respect, a turbaned Sikh who doesn't follow all of the provisions of the Rehit is in the same "patit" boat as one who does not keep his hair. Just my two cents.

  16. Publius says:

    JP Singh, thanks for your response. I respect your opinion and will only add a few thoughts in reply.

    The news article came from a non-Sikh site, as a result we may not expect a non-Sikh writer to dissect whether or not someone is a Sikh; if an interviewee says they are a Sikh, the writer is likely to write that the person is Sikh. (Interestingly, Swaranjit Singh, the sardar in the article, agreed that Balbir Singh is a Sikh.)

    Also, I have looked into a fair amount of post-9/11 incidents involving Sikh victims and I have not heard of one in which a Sikh was attacked because they were Sikh. True, if a turbaned Sikh is attacked, we can say the attack was “on” the Sikh identity. But that is different from saying they were attacked “because” they were Sikh. Sadly, I still think many are ignorant as to what Sikh identity is, let alone who a Sikh is.

    As I noted at the outset, I respect your views with respect to who is a Sikh. I would only say that whether a person has a turban and flowing beard does not necessarily mean they are a Sikh in compliance with the Rehit. For example, I know of turbaned Sikhs who drink, do drugs, rarely go to gurdwara, and have very limited knowledge of Sikh doctrine. As a result, I would not equate a person with a turban and beard with a Sikh. In that respect, a turbaned Sikh who doesn’t follow all of the provisions of the Rehit is in the same “patit” boat as one who does not keep his hair. Just my two cents.

  17. JP Singh says:

    Publius – I totally agree with

    In that respect, a turbaned Sikh who doesn’t follow all of the provisions of the Rehit is in the same “patit” boat as one who does not keep his hair.

    but you have to agree that it is a start that they are keeping the (some if not all) icons of Sikh Identity. That is where they get my support. Some years back, i was asked to speak about Rehet Maryada so I had to read it thoroughly, and I was amazed to read that it was designed to include everyone and not exclude anyone. Also, the majority of Sikhs in India think that the Rehet Maryada is only for AmritDharis whereas it is the "Sikh Rehet Maryada".

    One, very wise GurSikh once told me, "How come everyone is so eager to site bad examples to support your inability and unwillingness to improve themselves. Look at better examples than to follow. If anything, mention the bad examples to tell that you don't want to get to their level"

    Feel free to contact me in case you have any questions.

  18. JP Singh says:

    Publius – I totally agree with

    In that respect, a turbaned Sikh who doesnt follow all of the provisions of the Rehit is in the same patit boat as one who does not keep his hair.

    but you have to agree that it is a start that they are keeping the (some if not all) icons of Sikh Identity. That is where they get my support. Some years back, i was asked to speak about Rehet Maryada so I had to read it thoroughly, and I was amazed to read that it was designed to include everyone and not exclude anyone. Also, the majority of Sikhs in India think that the Rehet Maryada is only for AmritDharis whereas it is the “Sikh Rehet Maryada”.

    One, very wise GurSikh once told me, “How come everyone is so eager to site bad examples to support your inability and unwillingness to improve themselves. Look at better examples than to follow. If anything, mention the bad examples to tell that you don’t want to get to their level”

    Feel free to contact me in case you have any questions.

  19. Publius says:

    JP Singh, thanks for your courteous response.

    I definitely agree that "that it is a START that they are keeping the (some if not all) icons of Sikh Identity."

    Thanks again for the conversation!

  20. Publius says:

    JP Singh, thanks for your courteous response.

    I definitely agree that “that it is a START that they are keeping the (some if not all) icons of Sikh Identity.”

    Thanks again for the conversation!

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