United Sikhs Ground Coordinator Mohinderjit Singh (Center) stands with Anil Singh (to the right of Mohinderjit) and Bittu Maci (to the left)

United Sikhs announces bail for detained Shillong Sikhs

Two Sikhs detained by police during the anti-Sikh violence in Shillong, India, have been released on bail after the intervention of international Sikh charity United Sikhs.

Anil Singh, 24, and Bittu Maci, 36, were detained by police in the state of Meghalaya after the targeting of the minority Sikh community in Shillong at the end of May.

Rumours following the harassment of a Sikh woman by a bus driver claimed that Sikhs in Shillong had murdered members of Khasi community in revenge. A mob of over 200 people attacked the Gurdwara there, with local authorities disabling phone-lines, cutting internet access and imposing a curfew to try and restore calm.

Bittu was detained on 31st May, with Anil’s detention coming five days later. They have had no contact with their families for the duration of their detention.

United Sikhs Ground Coordinator Mohinderjit Singh (Center) stands with Anil Singh (to the right of Mohinderjit) and Bittu Maci (to the left)

United Sikhs Ground Coordinator Mohinderjit Singh (Center) stands with Anil Singh (to the right of Mohinderjit) and Bittu Maci (to the left)

The Sikh community in Shillong is also battling the government over proposals to relocate the Sikhs living in the Punjabi Lane area of the city.

Mejindarpal Kaur, Legal Director at United Sikhs said: ‘We are pleased by the court’s decision to approve bail for Anil and Bittu. Working in tandem with local officials and community leaders, we will continue to seek justice for the Sikh community, who are still under pressure of losing the homes bestowed to their forefathers two centuries ago.’

Supreme Court Advocate Girdhar Govind added: ‘This was a great team effort to release these young Sikh men who were detained on false charges. We thank UNITED SIKHS for their service to humanity through this victory.’

United Sikhs continues to work with the Sikh community of Shillong. Volunteers have been regularly present in the area since the violence in May and continue to address critical needs of the Sikhs including physical and mental health provision. United Sikhs have met with local officials including Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, East Khasi Hills Deputy Commissioner P S Dkhar, and Superintendent Davis N.R. Marak, Assistant to Director General of Police S B Singh.

Click here for a video of interviews with Anil and Bittu’s families

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One year ago today: the Sikh response to Grenfell

As the nation marks one year since the Grenfell Tower fire, some Sikhs who were among the first to respond recall their experiences that day.

While the nation woke up to pictures of the blaze, local Sikh sevadaars were already on the scene. Nearby resident Satnam Othee was woken in the early hours by the noise of the commotion. He tied his dastaar (Sikh turban) and left his house, buying as many bottles of water as he could from nearby supermarkets to distribute to the survivors and firefighters.

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A few hours later he was joined by Khalsa Aid founder and CEO Ravi Singh. Numerous other Sikh charities including SWAT, MLSS, and Basics of Sikhi arrived throughout the morning as the scale of the seva requirement became clear. There was coordination not just between Sikh organisations, but between all organisations – people of different faiths and backgrounds – who had come together to do as much as they could.

 

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Reflecting on the day, Ravi Singh told Sikh PA:

‘The tragedy of Grenfell touched us all, it was something beyond imagination. The whole country was in shock. The response from the public was simply amazing. It seems we all became part of Grenfell. Out of such a terrible tragedy came hope & humanity, It made me proud to be a Brit!’

While the Central Gurdwara Khalsa Jatha is mere minutes away from the site, at the time of the fire it was undergoing renovation. However, its sevadaars were on the ground, relaying requests to wider sangat via social media. That day a Facebook page was launched to coordinate between different Sikh organisations.

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By the afternoon several donation centres had opened and the Sikh sevadaars present went to each of them to ascertain what was needed.

One of the most pressing needs was for food and water. It is a testament to the fact that langar (the Sikh communal kitchen) can function anywhere, that despite the renovation of the local gurdwara, langar was set up at Grenfell and continued for months afterwards.

 

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Instrumental in this was Bhupinder Singh, who recounted the process to Sikh PA:

‘The first task was to serve volunteers, survivors and family members with food and water. Then we found out lots of donations were arriving. So we helped managed the task, people and arranged for transport and storage.’

The langar, staffed by sevadaars and provided by Sri Guru Singh Sabha (Southall) as well as other organisations, played a greater role than just the food it served: ‘Our langar stall became a night stop for residents that couldn’t sleep.’

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By the end of 14th June 2017, Sikhs and their gurdwaras from across the country had pledged manpower, langar and donations. While so much had been achieved by the community in a single day, this was to be just the beginning of the Sikh contribution to the Grenfell response.

 

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London Gurdwara bidding to bring Sikh artefact back to the community

A Gurdwara in the Sikh stronghold of Southall will bid for an artefact of the last sovereign ruler of Punjab and the Sikh kingdom that goes on auction tomorrow.

The Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha Southall has come together with stakeholders including activists, businessmen and community figures to acquire the earrings of Maharani Jind Kaur.

SGSS Letter jind kaur

The auctioning of them tomorrow at Bonhams in London represents the first opportunity in over 150 years to re-acquire such a rare artefact from Sikh history. They are expected to fetch between £20,000 and £30,000.

Maharani Jind Kaur was the wife of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, ruler of the Sikh empire, who led the Khalsa in two wars against the British and was subsequently imprisoned and exiled, before escaping to England to see her son Maharaja Duleep Singh.

It is hoped that the entire Sikh community shows solidarity with Sri Guru Singh Sabha’s bid tomorrow in acquiring the earrings for their preservation within the Sikh community and display for generations of Sikhs to come.

free sikh political prisoners

Sikh Political Prisoner Released

A Sikh political prisoner from France has been released on bail after seven years in a prison in India thanks to the work of UK based humanitarian charity Sikh Relief.

Pal Singh, a French citizen and well-known human rights campaigner in Europe and America, was working in his native Punjab state in India, helping those suffering from drug and alcohol addiction. It was during this work that Pal Singh was arrested by the Punjab Police which was reported by the Punjabi newspaper Daily Ajit to have been on 22nd July 2010.

Chairman of Sikh Relief, Balbir Singh Bains said: “It has taken years for the justice system to acknowledge the right to liberty of those who are demonstrably innocent, even if only granting bail pending appeal. The Indian justice system would benefit society greatly if it worked with an organisation like ours and helped heal the mistrust of a Sikh community that feels oppressed by the judiciary and political classes.”

In the immediate aftermath of Pal Singh’s arrest, the Punjab Police denied that he had been arrested, leading to the Sikh Relief legal team filing a case for Habeas Corpus on 26th July 2010. Only then was his detention confirmed. This is another example of similar cases where men have been detained illegally by the police in Punjab, with the arrests being denied often for weeks at a time. Allegations from within the Sikh community suggest this time window provides an opportunity for the police to torture the illegally detained suspects, which then results in forced “confessions”.

Pal Singh faced charges of terrorism in an evidently flawed trial and was sentenced. Thanks to Sikh Relief, he has now been freed on bail ahead of his appeal against the conviction, which is due next year.

Jagtar Singh Gill, Secretary General Elect of the Sikh Council UK said: “The Sikh Council welcomes the news that Bhai Pal Singh, a citizen of France, has been released on bail and commends the hard work and perseverance of Sikh Relief in assisting with the release.”

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Is the Indian government sabotaging a Canadian election?

Jagmeet Singh, a candidate in the New Democratic Party leadership election in Canada, has talked about possible interference from the Indian government in his campaign.

In interviews with several Canadian newspapers, Mr Singh revealed that he had been informed by members of the Indian community there that people with links to the Indian High Commission in Canada were attempting to dissuade people from supporting him. This included people expressing an interest in donating to his campaign but later backing out after pressure from third parties. Confirming that he has received these reports, Mr Singh said ‘this is what they told me […] I am still trying to get as many witnesses as I can to prove this so that an appropriate action can be taken.’

The Amritdhari (initiated) Sikh would be the first ethnic minority leader of a major political party in Canada. He has previously been vocal in condemning the abuse of Sikh human rights in India, culminating in a visa refusal to the country in 2013, leaving Singh unable to return to the country of his parents.

https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/in-jagmeet-singh-a-unifying-figure-with-divisive-potential/article35659994/

http://www.straight.com/news/934441/gurpreet-singh-ndp-leadership-candidate-jagmeet-singh-questions-if-india-destabilizing

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When the Guru supported the better man – post from Elusive Fighter

The following article has been taken from a post made by the Art of Elusive Fighting page, a Sikh martial-arts social media account. Based on Jeremy Corbyn’s political ethos, this article uses references to Sikh history to advocate Sikhs voting for Labour (to bring Jeremy Corbyn into power).

Please note – Sikh PA are an apolitical organisation and share this to promote political dialogue within the Sikh community. We have previously shared thoughts on Sikhs advocating the Green Party and abstaining. 

Please read, share and comment!


 
There are many that keep ‘their politics separate’. There are others who think Sikhs should not get involved and focus only on our own raaj* (we live in the UK..?).

I’ve not taken any interest in elections for 2 decades (all my adult life). Why? Because it has always been clear after some basic reaearch and checking candidates manifestos, as well as the consistency (lack of) in their ideals… that these parties were simply one corrupt beast in different bodies (be it Labour or Tories).

But since Corbyn has taken control of Labour, I have been watching him with interest. He has always had the courage to speak his mind, speak against whomever he feels is warmongering, against those who put short term gain above long term stability, against those who create rules to empower the rich and further weaken the poor, against those who happily deal and trade with oppressive terrorist supporting regimes, against the ruin of our once world class public services (e.g. Education, NHS etc).. etc.

Here is a man who genuinely tries to embody Guru Nanak Dev Ji’s wisdom of ‘Sarbat da Bhalla’ (betterment of all mankind). Here is man who is a voice for the oppressed and the poor. Here is a man who is willing to challenge those in his own family (Party) when they step into the realm of corruption. Here is a man who does not degrade himself to the level of sleazy propoganda and feel the need to degrade, lie about or insult his opposition.

Looking to puratan ithihaas (traditional Sikh history), we learn that the Khalsa is Niyara (Unique and Independent) and supports only dharam (just rule) and the greater good. In ithihaas a wonderful example is given when Sri Guru Gobind Singh ji gives his support to Bahadur Shah who previously challenged his own TYRANT father Emporer Aurangzeb when he was ordered to fight the Guru. Guru provides help by way of Khalsa soldiers to help Bahadur Shah defeat his brother who has snatched his rule. Guru supports the better man, one who will ‘not be a tyrant’. Guru helps him to the throne of rule.

Further, and as an important caveat, Guru later refuses to help Bahadur Shah fight against the Marathas, who are on the war path in retaliation for the atrocities meted out by Bahadurs Tyrant grandfather.

Guru (Khalsa) can give but can also take. Then can support, but can retract the support depending on the scenario (dharam).

Today, you all have a chance to apply GurMat principles and show support for someone who refuses to sell arms to those who supply ISIS. Who is prepared to do immense work to bring respectability to our public services and support to our poor again.

Do the right thing. Vote ‘Corbyn’. This is your chance to change the face of 3 decades of corrupt, propoganda lead politics.

Sri Gur Panth Prakash

Chaupai :(Thereupon) Farukhsiar responded to (their instigation) by saying, That his grandfather (Bahadur Shah) had given him an advice. He had advised that there existed a house (dynasty) of Nanak, with whom he (Farukhsiar) must not enter into any conflict.

When his great grand father (Aurangzeb) had felt offended (with the Guru), He had ordered Farukhsiar’s grandfather to wage a war against the Guru. But his grandfather (Bahadurshah) did not proceed against the Guru, and sent his soldiers to work in favour of the Guru.

On that day, the Guru had told his grandfather (Bahadur Shah), that he (the Guru) had blessed him (Bahadur Shah) with a sovereignty. The Guru had made his grandfather a sovereign with active support, Otherwise how could he become sovereign without Guru’s (support).

*Raaj = Rule.

How a Sikh engineer from Gujarat developed a Ramadan app that crossed half-a-million downloads – YourStory.com

At a time when the world is bleeding, and people seem more divided than ever, there are a few who are dedicating their lives to bringing them together. Kuldeep Singh Saini, a mechatronics engineer turned app developer’s story is a prime example. His app, Ramadan 2016, helps keep a track of the direction of prayer, iftar (meal after sunset), sehri (pre-dawn meal), prayer timings, and has been downloaded more than 500,000 times!

From mechanical engineering to app development

Born and brought up in Ahmedabad, Gujarat, Kuldeep studied Mechatronics Engineering at Ganpat University. After completing his graduation, he was keen to study design at the National Institute Of Design (NID), but despite reaching the last round of admissions twice, he could not get through. He then tried his luck with various core mechanical companies, but they too were not very keen on recruiting him as he was a newcomer. Around the same time, Kuldeep was drawn to app development. He had never coded before and was more interested in the design aspect of apps.  He learnt how to code from his brother, who runs an app development company called App Aspect in Ahmedabad. He started by developing basic utility apps for Android and iOS.

Kuldeep, 27, was always intrigued by how the workers at his father’s garage diligently observed the various religious customs during the Holy Month of Ramadan, and had always wanted to make it easier for them to do the same. Armed with basic coding knowledge and a fair experience in app development, he started working on a Ramadan App in 2015.  He started by researching religious practices by talking to the workers in his father’s garage. It took him two months to finish work on the UI and UX, while the actual coding took him another two months. The app was launched on the Google Playstore on May 10 , 2015, and got 53,000 downloads on the first day of the fast.

What the app does

Kuldeep’s Ramadan 2016 App has crossed 750,000 downloads and contains the 2016 Ramadan Calendar, namaz prayer times, Qibla Compass, Asma-Al-Husna (99 names of Allah), hijri (Islamic Calendar), hijri date convertor, Ramadan duas and each day’s sehri andiftar timing.

The features include:

  1. Ramadan time and calendar: Shows the daily sehri/iftar time to start and end fasting, set alarms, shows the whole month’s suhoor and iftar timetable, auto identifies user location, and auto adjusts according to the Ramadan calendar, and also lets the user add a location manually from a database of 250+ countries.
  2. Salat (prayer) times: Shows the five Muslim prayer times (fajr (dawn), dhuhr (noon), asr(dusk), maghrib (West Sun prayer) and isha (night-time prayer), lets the user set waktu solat (daily five-time prayer) alarm with azan (prayer call), set a ringtone for namaz, and view the previous day’s waktu solat.
  3. Al Quran: The app has the complete Quran in eight different languages with an Arabic audio of the Holy Book.
  4. Qibla (direction of the Kaaba) compass: The app lets the user find the direction of Mecca from any part of the world, shows the Islamic Compass Degree change in live view, and checks the distance to Mecca from any particular location. All these features can also be accessed offline.

While Kuldeep was inspired by the workers in his father’s garage to build the app, he updated it with features that could help young Muslims around the world. The app also shows five Muslim prayer times, helps the user with the pronunciations of duas and gives the English meaning of all the duas.

Other apps helping Muslims keep a track of their religious activities during the Holy Month include Muslim Pro, an app that not only tells the user prayer timings, but also locates the nearest mosque. If there is no mosque nearby, it shows the user the direction in which they should offer prayers. Some apps also feature essays by Islamic scholars on various social, political, economic, and personal issues. Some of them also have animated stories of prominent Islamic figures.

Ramadan 2016

Ramadan 2016

Mixed Responses

“Users from all over the world write to me about how this app has simplified their lives and that inspires me to think of more updates to add year after year” says Kuldeep. However, the initial response was not very encouraging.

“I remember how a guy had commented saying the app was unreliable and inaccurate as it had been developed by a non-Muslim. There were several comments of the sort. My father’s friends also ridiculed me for developing an app for the people of a religion I didn’t belong to. But I was undeterred,” he says.

His efforts have paid off as the app now boasts 96,000 active users and the positive reviews just won’t stop pouring in!

“I recently received a message from a user who used the app to name his niece,” he exclaims.

While the revenue aspect is taken care of by native advertising, there is also an ad-free PRO version of the app, which costs Rs 99.

Kuldeep is currently working on a QR Code scanner, a heart-rate monitor, and a few other basic utility apps. Along with building his own app development company, Kuldeep also dreams of a more inclusive world, but can technology help unite this strife-ridden world?

“Technology can only create awareness. It is up to the user; you can use it for what you want to. While people like me are trying to bridge gaps, a terrorist somewhere is using technology to claim responsibility for an attack that has killed thousands.” he laments.

 

Via – http://yourstory.com/2016/07/ramadan-2016-app/

Sikh boxer recalls fight with Muhammad Ali – Indian Express

The farmer in him switches off, and Singh becomes the heavyweight boxer who, many summers ago, had a rather painful introduction to Ali’s greatness.

Kaur Singh, 63, says he is having a busy day. He is out in the sun monitoring work on his farm and dealing with government officials on a crop survey in his village in Sangrur. Over the phone, he doesn’t sound keen on a long conversation. Until he hears it’s about Muhammad Ali.

“Us de mukke bahut hi dumdar si (His punches had great power),” he says. The farmer in him switches off, and Singh becomes the heavyweight boxer who, many summers ago, had a rather painful introduction to Ali’s greatness.

Two years before he won the Asian Games gold in 1982, Singh had been in the ring with Ali for four rounds in an exhibition bout at Delhi’s National Stadium on January 27, 1980. Rajiv Gandhi, not yet active in politics, after learning about Ali’s stopover in Delhi, had convinced him to give an audience to the capital’s boxing fans. A crowd of more than 50,000 turned up to watch history’s greatest boxer. Ali, then 38, would retire a year later.

“I clearly remember that jab, his famous jab. It seemed to come out of nowhere. He used his right hand to block my punches, and his counter punch to hit me. His speed was amazing; not once during those four rounds did the speed drop,” recalls the old man.

By then, voices in the background can be heard begging for Singh’s attention. But no distraction can now tear away the boxer-turned-farmer from being the fanboy once again, reliving those magical moments of his boxing career.

“Everybody at the national camp had his posters in their rooms. We would try to ape his boxing stance. I remember the moment when I was informed that I would be actually fighting my hero. I was at this camp at Moti Bagh in Delhi when officials told me about the exhibition match. I couldn’t believe it. Before the match, I was nervous. I saw him train, I approached him, and we shook hands,” says the overwhelmed Singh.

For perspective, he reminds you that he wasn’t an impressionable rookie then — he was the national heavyweight when he fought Ali. “But he was the world heavyweight champion. Woh boxing ka shahenshah tha.” Norris Pritam, former sports journalist with The Indian Express, remembers seeing that fight as a young athlete.

“We were training at the National Stadium in Delhi when we heard about the fight. Of course, Ali was someone every boxer in the world admired. And he showed why in that fight against Kaur Singh. Although it was an exhibition match, people cheered for Ali, and Ali talked to schoolchildren even during the fight from the ring. It was a great treat for Indian fans,” Pritam said.

VIA – http://indianexpress.com/article/sports/sport-others/india-boxer-recalls-fight-with-muhammad-ali-the-shahenshah-2835329/

Jeremy Corbyn Writes to Portuguese PM about Paramjeet Singh

It has been revealed that Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn directly addressed Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa on the issue of UK asylum seeker Paramjeet Singh’s arrest in Portugal via a letter sent last week.

SEE BELOW FOR IMAGES OF LETTER

Lobbying by the Sikh Federation UK pushed the issue as a point of concern for many British Sikhs, grabbing the attention of much political hierarchy. The likes of MP John Spellar and Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond also discussed the case in the past week.

Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:

“Following the exceptional lobby many are now of the strong view that the Indian authorities stand virtually no chance of securing the extradition of Paramjeet Singh irrespective of the lies India present to the Portuguese courts on 26 January.”

“Not only is the Labour leader backing his safe return to the UK, but we have it on good sources the UK and Portuguese governments have already discussed the situation and will block his extradition as the Indian judicial system can not be trusted.”

“The Indian authorities have gone to a lot of trouble to try and get Paramjeet Singh through the back door, but politicians in Britain and Portugal have in effect confirmed they will not let this happen.”

“India should cut its losses and drop extradition proceedings and let Paramjeet Singh return to the UK and be united with his wife and children.”

 

Attack on L.A Metro driver sparks fear in the Sikh community – L.A Times

An attack on a Sikh bus driver who struggled to keep his Metro bus from careening into South Los Angeles traffic in November should be investigated as a hate crime, according to the Sikh Coalition.

The assault on the driver, who wore a beard and traditional Sikh turban, was one of a string of bias-based attacks against Sikhs in recent months, according to coalition lawyers.

Local authorities, however, were not treating the incident seriously and considering only misdemeanor charges, lawyers argued.

“We cannot fight hate if law enforcement agencies ignore or fail to recognize hate crimes,” Sikh Coalition senior staff attorney Gurjot Kaur said this week.

The pummeling reportedly occurred at the hands of a passenger, who left driver Balwinder Jit Singh with a black eye, a bruised jaw, and a swollen face. He continues to experience pain and blurred vision, the coalition said.

News of the assault also comes at a time when Metro bus drivers are reporting an increase in violent confrontations.

According to Sikh Coalition lawyers, Singh had been working his regular route on Nov. 6, when he picked up a passenger at Manchester and Western avenues.

The male passenger paid his fare, but then started shouting at Singh, calling him a “terrorist” and “suicide bomber” and accusing him of hijacking the bus, the coalition said.

When Singh dropped the passenger off at Crenshaw and Manchester boulevards, the passenger came back onto the bus and began pummeling him in the face.

Throughout the attack, Singh kept his foot on the brake of the running bus, which had 20 to 25 passengers on board, the coalition said. Once the suspect left, a passenger called the police and Singh was taken to the hospital.

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, Sikhs say they have been subjected to violence or harassment by people who mistakenly associate their appearance with violent Islamists, just as American Muslims say they too have been singled out for abuse.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Transit Services Bureau confirmed that it was investigating a reported attack on Singh, but offered no further details about the incident, saying it was an open investigation.

“I know that more information has come to light, so we’re re-looking at the case,” said Ramon Montenegro, a spokesman for the bureau. “We’ve gotten some more information that wasn’t originally given to us when the first report was taken.”

The suspected attacker was taken into custody shortly after the report was taken, and remains in custody on a separate criminal matter, according to the Sikh Coalition.

Violence against bus operators has been rising steadily over the last three years, according to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

In 2012, the number of assaults totaled 79, but rose to 105 in 2013. In 2014, the number stood at 141 and last year — through November — the number totaled 155.

“Assaults against operators have been going up nationwide and we’ve taken a lot of proactive steps to combat that and to try and keep our employees safe,” said Paul Gonzales, a Metro spokesman. “These are our employees, we want to make sure their workplace is a safe place.”

Some of the steps taken, Gonzales said, include the installation of surveillance monitors. Also, new buses have been outfitted with steel or polycarbonate barriers that protect drivers.

In more than a third of bus driver assaults — 34% — the incident concerns a dispute over bus fare. Because of this, Metro now uses an automated fare announcement, Gonzales said.

Gonzales confirmed that Singh is a bus operator, but said he couldn’t go into further details because of pending litigation.

The coalition is working with local and federal officials to push for a hate crime investigation and prosecution, the coalition said.

“The suspect came onto the bus and immediately saw Mr. Singh’s turban and beard … and started shouting racial slurs at him,” Kaur said. “That’s some of the clearest evidence that we’ve ever seen in a hate crime case.”

Singh went public about the November incident this week.

“I know that sharing my story sheds further light on the bigotry and hatred faced by communities across the nation,” Singh said in a statement. “These crimes cannot be tolerated.”

Singh sits on the board of a gurdwara, a Sikh house of worship, in Buena Park that was vandalized in December. Gang graffiti was found scribbled on the exterior of the gurdwara on Dec. 6, while an expletive and the word “ISIS” were also found scrawled on a tractor trailer parked at the temple. A 21-year-old man has been charged in the case.

The assault on Singh continues to spark fear and outrage in the Sikh community.

“This guy is on his job doing what he’s supposed to do every day. Somebody coming up to you and punching you, doing something like this, is definitely very scary and concerning to me,” said Jaspreet Singh, who also sits on the board of the Buena Park gurdwara. “He was attacked because of his identity.”

Twitter: @brittny_mejia

VIA – http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-attack-on-metro-driver-sparks-fear-in-sikh-community-20160114-story.html