A strange phenomenon has been occuring in northern California where reports of violence against Sikhs (both hate-motivated and otherwise) are becoming more common.
The attack on cabbie Harbhajan Singh in West Sacramento, CA, the unsolved murders of seniors Surinder Singh and Gurmej Atwal in Elk Grove, CA, and the unsolved murder of Balbir Singh Dhami – also in Elk Grove – all involved attacks on turban-wearing men and all occured within the same metropolitan area in less than a year. It should be clear that the latter shooting is not considered a hate crime.
Two new reports have emerged in the last two weeks. A elderly Sikh man was shot and killed by police in Yuba City, CA on July 4th, and last night another Sikh cabbie in Sacramento was held up and robbed. Neither are considered hate crimes, but for so many attacks on Sikhs to occur in short period of time in a small geographic area is alarming, regardless.
On July 4th in Yuba City, CA, 72-year-old Jagtar Singh Kang was shot by police when he reportedly was driving wrecklessly in his neighborhood and then directed his vehicle towards a sheriff’s deputy:
Sutter County Undersheriff Jeff Pierce told India-West that Kang had been shot and killed by an unidentified deputy after the department received 911 calls from neighbors who saw the elderly man driving around recklessly in his car, almost hitting neighbors on their lawns. Kang had apparently been upset by neighbors who were shooting illegal fireworks, according to news reports, but Pierce said he could not confirm that fact.
There are many questions surrounding this incident (and particularly whether the severity of the officer’s actions were justified) which will hopefully be answered by the Sutter County District Attorney’s investigation.
The report of the Sikh cabbie who was robbed last night is also not considered to be motivated by the victim’s appearance or religion:
At gunpoint, the young man robbed the driver. He then forced the cabbie to drive to Cottage Way and Howe Avenue where the driver was forced out of his taxi.
The robber then drove off with the cab, which was found a few blocks away at El Camino Avenue and Connie Drive. The cab was empty and the robber got away.
The cabbie was a member of the Sikh faith but police said the robber did not make any comment about the taxi driver’s appearance or religion. Police do not believe there was any religious hate motivation associated with the crime.
For a tightly-knit community that is sensitive to the issue of hate crimes and still reeling from those of Harbhajan Singh, Surinder Singh and Gurmej Atwal, these newly reported attacks only add to the sense of vulnerability that Sikhs in this area of the United States must feel.