Elderly Sikh man brutally assaulted in alleged hate attack – UPDATED

Piara Singh (source: CBS 47)

Piara Singh (source: CBS 47)

Last night, news broke that an elderly Sikh man in Fresno, California, was attacked and beaten severely on Sunday in an alleged hate-motivated assault. Piara Singh, 82 years old, was brutally beaten after leaving the Gurdwara Nanaksar in Fresno on Sunday morning:

Piara Singh was beaten with a steel rod. He is currently admitted in the hospital undergoing treatment for severe head injuries, and his condition is said to be critical. His rib was also fractured and a lung collapsed during the attack.

Fresno police reportedly have a suspect in custody who, on his arrest, apparently made statements about his hate for “these people” and “this church”.

Unfortunately, this is not the first time in recent history that a Sikh man has been attacked in Fresno. In December 2011, Anup Singh, a 56-year-old Sikh man, was stabbed at the Fresno International Airport but fortunately did not suffer life-threatening injuries. His assailant was arrested but hate crime charges were not levied.

Earlier in 2011, while on their daily walk, two elderly Sikh men named Surinder Singh and Gurmej Atwal were murdered in a drive-by shooting in Elk Grove, California, just two hours north of Fresno. Two years since, this crime has yet to be solved but it is believed to have also been a hate crime.

Sunday’s attack on Piara Singh as he left a Gurdwara also comes in the shadow of last August’s mass murder of five Sikh men and one Sikh woman (and leaving another Sikh man in a long term care facility) at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, and in a shooting attack of a Sikh man, Kanwaljit Singh, and his 13-year-old son in Port Orange, Florida, in February.

Many of these attacks happened in broad daylight on unsuspecting and innocent people, several of whom were senior citizens. This is also the second attack to occur at a Sikh place of worship within a year.

It is with sadness that we must, once again, offer support for another member of the Sikh American community who has been attacked in an apparent act of hate. Let us pray for Piara Singh’s recovery, and that the assailant is brought to a complete exacting of justice.

More information will undoubtedly be shared by Fresno police at a community meeting at Gurdwara Nanaksar Sahib (3038 S Cherry Avenue, Fresno, California) at 5:30 PM this evening (see the advisory from the Sikh Coalition here). In the meantime, see the report provided by local television affiliate CBS 47 for more information.

UPDATE: Local television station ABC30 reports that Gilbert Garcia, age 29, has been arrested for the assault on Piara Singh. Fresno police and the FBI are investigating the attack as a hate crime.


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