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Elderly Sikh man beaten up in US, arrested for keeping kirpan

Press Trust of India  Washington, August 24, 2012
First Published: 20:29 IST(24/8/2012) | Last Updated: 20:31 IST(24/8/2012)

An elderly Sikh man, in his early 70s, was allegedly beaten up by his neighbour in New Jersey following an altercation and was later arrested for keeping the kirpan, a Sikh article of faith.

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The incident took place on July 26, nearly 10 days before the shooting at Oak Creek Gurdwara in Wisconsin, United Sikhs, a Sikh advocacy group, said on Thursday.

Giving details, the group said Avtar Singh, a gas station owner and a founding member of Glen Rock Gurdwara in New Jersey, went to the neighbouring shop owned by Edward Koscovski to request him to move his truck that was parked and blocking the entrance to his gas station. The request turned into an altercation in which Avtar Singh was brutally assaulted, it said.

"I kept on yelling to let me go, but nothing stopped Edward from hitting me. When I turned around using all my strength, Edward smashed my face, broke my teeth and kept punching me in the stomach. He grabbed my kirpan and threw it at his attendant.

"The attendant removed the kirpan from the cover and hid the cover in a room inside. He also snatched my phone," Avtar Singh said.

Later, the police arrived on the scene and arrested the 72-year-old Avtar Singh and charged him with possession of a weapon (kirpan), United Sikhs said.

He was interrogated before being attended to for injuries and was later taken to the hospital and was handcuffed to the hospital bed during his stay there. Singh was then taken to the police station and jailed till his family filed his bail application, it said.

United Sikhs said it contacted the Civil Rights Division and the Community Relations Service Division in the US Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as well as the State of New Jersey Attorney General's office for investigation and is following up on the case to be heard next Thursday.

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