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US teen arrested for burning patka

US authorities press hate crime charges against the student accused of setting fire to the patka of a Sikh student.

india Updated: May 16, 2008 21:47 IST

US authorities have pressed hate crime charges against an American teenager accused of setting fire to the patka of a Sikh student.

Garrett Green, 18, pleaded not guilty to changes of aggravated assault, bias intimidation, arson and criminal mischief slapped on him.

He was ordered by the Municipal Court Judge Gregory Williams to appear before him on May 21 to face the charges.

The 16-year old Sikh boy, whose family do not wish him to be identified, did not suffer any major injury. Some of his hair were reported burnt after his headgear was allegedly set on fire by a cigarette lighter during a fire drill when he was talking to a friend.

The incident occurred on May five and Green was arrested immediately after the incident. Authorities had earlier charged him with arson and criminal mischief but pressed hate crime charges of bias intimidation and aggravated assault on Thursday.

Hightstown Police Chief James Eufemia said the two charges were added after the department completed its investigation.

"The aggravated assault charge was added because the student was set afire and that there was intent to cause serious bodily injury," he was quoted as saying by local media.

"The bias intimidation was added because a patka, which is a Sikh religious symbol, was set afire," he said.

Victim's uncle Harjot Pannu said the incident had left them scarred psychologically. "It can be mentally damaging. He's shocked about what happened," he said.