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Sikh man dies of injuries after being assaulted after minor car accident in New York

New York: A 66-year-old Sikh man died of his head injuries after being assaulted after a minor car accident, the second attack against a Sikh person within a week in New York.

Jasmer Singh was attacked by 30-year-old Gilbert Augustin after their vehicles collided in Queens here last Thursday.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has condemned the incident and vowed to protect the community.

“Jasmer Singh loved his city and deserved so much more than his tragic death. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I want our Sikh community to know you have more than our condolences. You have our sacred vow that we reject the hatred that took this innocent life and we will protect you,” Adams said in a post on X.

“Our team will be meeting with Sikh leaders this week to discuss the needs of this critical community in this challenging moment,” Adams said.

Singh’s death was the second tragic incident in about a week against Sikhs here.

Last week, a 19-year-old Sikh boy was assaulted while he was riding the bus in Richmond Hill and was headed to a Gurudwara. Christopher Philippeaux, 26 punched the teenager in the back of the head, tried to knock off his turban and told him “We don’t wear that in this country.” Philippeaux has been arraigned in Queens Criminal Court and charged with assault in the third degree as a hate crime and aggravated harassment in the second degree, Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz said.

A report in the New York Daily News said that police at the NYPD’s 102 Precinct charged Augustin with manslaughter and assault. Following his arraignment in Queens Saturday, Augustin was held without bail, the report said.

The report added that the NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force is not yet investigating the incident, which they believe was caused by a car crash.

According to the New York Daily News report, the vehicles of Singh and Augustin collided Thursday and both cars sustained dents and scratches. As Singh tried to call 911, a man allegedly said “No police, no police” and took Singh’s phone.

The report added that Singh got out of the car and followed Augustin, trying to get his phone back. The two men argued and Singh walked back to his car after taking his phone from Augustin, who then punched him three times in the head and face.

“Singh fell to the ground and hit his head,” the report said, adding that Augustin fled from the scene. Singh was taken to a local hospital in critical condition where he died of brain injury.

The news report said that police apprehended Augustin on Friday “about two miles from the crash site and found he had a suspended driver’s license and his Alabama license plate did not match his New York registration.”

Referring to the incidents, New York State Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar said that in the past seven days alone, “there were two reprehensible crimes against the Sikh American community in Richmond Hill that leave us all devastated.”

Rajkumar, who represents Richmond Hill, described the area as the ‘Sikh Capital of the USA” and said “in our community, Sikhs, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, and Jews live together in harmony, often on the same block. When a crime occurs against any of us, it is a crime against all of us, and we come together in solidarity.”

She said “Sikhs are our protectors: their faith preaches seva, meaning “selfless service.” Their religion teaches that there is divinity in everyone of any faith and that there is an obligation to protect the welfare of all humanity.”

She said that as the first Punjabi American ever elected to the New York State Office, she will always fight for the freedom and dignity of Sikh Americans and people of every faith. She vowed to continue working with Adams, Police Commissioner Edward Caban and all stakeholders to deliver the resources for the Sikh community to live in peace and safety.

(Published 23 October 2023, 05:22 IST)

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