New York: The US State Department is “deeply disturbed” by reports of an attack on an Indian-origin Sikh cab driver at the JFK International Airport and condemned any form of hate-based violence, saying perpetrators of hate crimes should be held accountable for their actions, no matter where such crimes occur.
The Sikh taxi driver was assaulted by an unidentified man, who knocked off his turban and also used expletives against him outside the JFK International Airport here, according to a video on social media.
The undated 26-second video was uploaded by a Twitter user, Navjot Pal Kaur, on the micro-blogging site on January 4, showing a man assaulting the Sikh taxi driver outside the airport. She said the video was shot by a bystander at the airport.
State Department’s Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs (SCA), in a tweet on Saturday, said: “We are deeply disturbed by reports of an apparent attack on a Sikh cab driver at J.F.K. Airport, captured on video last week. Our diversity makes the U.S. Stronger, & we condemn any form of hate-based violence.
“We all have a responsibility to hold perpetrators of hate crimes accountable for their actions, no matter where such crimes occur”.
The State Department’s reaction came after the Indian Consulate General in New York termed the assault on the Sikh taxi driver as “deeply disturbing” and said it has taken up the matter with US authorities and urged them to investigate the violent incident.
“The assault against a Sikh taxi driver in New York is deeply disturbing. We have taken up the matter with US authorities and urged them to investigate this violent incident,” Consulate General of India in New York tweeted on Saturday.
In the video posted by Twitter user Kaur, the person can be heard allegedly using expletives against the Sikh individual. He repeatedly hits and punches the Sikh man, knocking his turban off.
Kaur tweeted, “This video was taken by a bystander at John F. Kennedy international Airport. I do not own the rights to this video. But I just wanted to highlight the fact that hatred continues to remain in our society and unfortunately I’ve seen Sikh cab drivers get assaulted again and again.”
Simran Jeet Singh, author and Director for the Aspen Institute’s Inclusive America Project, tweeted “Another Sikh cab driver assaulted. This one at JFK Airport in NYC. So upsetting to see. But it’s crucial that we don’t look away… What I am sure of is how painful it is to watch our fathers and elders get assaulted while they’re just trying to live an honest life.
“For those who aren’t Sikh, I can’t put into words what it means to have your turban knocked off — or to see someone else’s turban knocked off. It’s visceral and gut-wrenching and just so disheartening to witness,” Singh tweeted.
The National Sikh Campaign said that “we are only a few days into the new year and there has already been a hate crime committed against a Sikh. A bystander recorded an unidentified man attacking a Sikh taxi driver, ultimately knocking off the driver’s turban.
“No additional details have been released outside of the video, but we know this story too well. A Sikh person goes about their daily lives only to be senselessly attacked by someone. Common road rage between people can escalate when someone who is ignorant of who we are takes their disdain for our turbans and becomes violent,” it said.
This is not the first time when a Sikh taxi driver has been assaulted in the US.
An Indian-origin Sikh Uber driver was in 2019 assaulted and racially abused in the US state of Washington in a suspected hate crime. The driver told the police that he believes his race prompted the attack.
In 2017, a 25-year-old Sikh cab driver in New York was assaulted and his turban knocked off by drunk passengers.