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Racial abuse: Sikh group up in arms

india Updated: Jun 08, 2008 02:48 IST
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In the backdrop of incidents of attacks on Sikh students in US schools, a community grouping has sought strict measures to curb hate crimes, claiming that as many as 60 per cent of pupils were victimised.

The Sikh Coalition asked the Department of Education to take steps to prevent attacks on Sikh students arising out their wearing turban and not cutting hair, after a boy was punched and his patka untied by a classmate in a latest attack in Queens, a suburb of New York.

This was second such incident within a month after a Sikh student was assaulted in another school. Earlier, a Sikh student's turban was removed and his waist-length hair cut in a school bathroom. The continued bias crimes in schools have angered the Sikh community, the organisation said.

The Coalition said its investigations had revealed that 60 per cent of Sikh students had suffered harassment in one form or another because of their religious symbols.

At its initiative, it said, two investigators of Hate Crimes Task Force had interviewed the victim, identified by it as Jagmohan Singh Premi in the latest incident.

The coalition said its attorneys were present during the interview and it has requested the authorities to pursue it as hate crime. The School Chancellor's office, it said, had assured it that an investigation has been launched into the incident.

The representatives of the Coalition along with victim's father have also met the school authorities to discuss the issue and steps need to be taken so that such incidents are not repeated.

Giving details of the incident, the Coalition said the classmate who attacked Jagmohan had earlier in the year been suspended for specifically trying to remove victim's turban but his behaviour did not change and he continued to harass him which culminated in Tuesday's incident.

It said that Jagmohan, who was examined by doctors, has a facial contusion and may have orbital fracture. The incident, it said, occurred while a teacher was present in the class room.

The classmate, who was not identified because of his age, untied the patka and then hit him on the face with key in his knuckles.