Columbia University professor Prabhjot Singh had written about violence against Sikhs in America. On Saturday, he became the target of a vicious assault in Harlem, New York
New York, Sept. 23 (PTI): A Sikh professor at Columbia University in New York was brutally attacked by a mob of 30 people who called him “Osama” and “terrorist” during the assault.
The police is investigating the incident as a hate crime.
Prabhjot Singh, an assistant professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University, was attacked on Saturday night in the Harlem neighbourhood of New York.
“There was a group of 25 to 30 young men. One of them said, ‘Get him, Osama,’” Singh, 31, who suffered a fractured jaw, was quoted as saying by the New York Daily News. “I got punched directly in the face about three times.”
Singh said he was on the ground and was being kicked when some people intervened.
“I’m grateful to them,” said Singh, who is married and has a one-year-old son. “It could have been a lot worse.”
Singh had gone out for a walk after dropping his wife and one-year-old son at home. While being attacked, he saw one of the assailants put his hand inside his coat as if reaching for a gun. Singh was unable to provide any descriptions about his assailants to the police. The professor said his assailants taunted him during the attack, calling him “Osama” and “terrorist” as they pulled at his long beard.
“It’s incredibly sad,” Singh said. “It’s not the neighbourhood I know. I work in this community. It’s just not American. It’s important that they are caught and be held responsible for what they did,” he said.
Singh reiterated that it was crucial for people to understand that Sikhs are peaceful people and should not be confused with radical Islamists.
“I’ve written about this in the past. But it’s one thing to go from writing about something to receiving an assault. It’s scary,” he said. Singh has been discharged from hospital and has met New York Police Department Hate Crime Task Force officials.
In an online post, Singh’s friend Simran Jeet Singh, who is a doctoral candidate in religion at Columbia, said Prabhjot had been “brutally attacked” on the street and had been rushed to the hospital “bloody and bruised, his face swollen from a fractured jaw”.
The young professor could not speak because many of his teeth had been broken, Jeet Singh said in the post, “Hate Hits Home: When My Friend Became A Target”, which was published on the HuffPost website.
“Last night, I received the kind of phone call that everyone dreads: a close friend was hurt and on his way to the hospital. But the news got worse, as I learned that my friend, Prabhjot Singh, a young Sikh-American professor at Columbia University, had been brutally attacked on a public street, the victim of a violent hate crime,” the post said.
Jeet Singh described Prabhjot Singh as someone who has “dedicated his life to serving the underserved”.
Prabhjot Singh is currently the director of Systems Management at the Earth Institute, and “draws upon his experiences abroad to help improve the health of local communities like in Harlem”, Jeet Singh said. Prabhjot Singh is also a resident physician at a leading New York hospital.