A Canadian city councilor has spoken up after a Sikh international student was brutally beaten by a group of people on his way home in what is being described as a racially motivated attack.
Gagandeep Singh, a 21-year-old international student in Kelowna, British Columbia, was allegedly attacked at a bus stop at the corner of McCurdy Road and Highway 97 at around 10:30 p.m. on March 17.
He boarded a transit bus to travel back home from grocery shopping when he encountered a group of 12 to 15 young people, male and female, who were creating a ruckus, according to Kelowna city councilor Mohini Singh.
When someone from the group threw a wig at Gagandeep, he asked them to stop and threatened to call the police. The group later followed the victim as he got off the bus at McCurdy Road.
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Gagandeep, who was surrounded by the perpetrators, was allegedly punched and kicked numerous times. His turban was also reportedly ripped off and he was dragged on the ground by his hair.
“I think this is absolutely horrendous. It’s disgusting that an innocent man was assaulted and viciously beaten,” Mohini told Castanet. “This is not what Kelowna is about. We are better than this.”
According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) spokesperson Const. Mike Della-Paolera, officers found Gagandeep lying on the ground surrounded by friends who had arrived to assist him.
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RCMP were told that a group of people were teasing the victim and when the victim exited the bus, he was hit from behind and assaulted. The Kelowna RCMP take this very seriously and are concerned that this type of crime has happened in our city. This assault is the top priority for our investigators.
The student was taken to Kelowna General Hospital, where he was treated for injuries to his chest, mouth, arms and legs. He has been released to recover at home.
“Singh is at home barely able to move. He is so shaken up he is afraid to face the camera or speak to anyone. His friends say this is clearly a hate crime and should be investigated as one,” Mohini told Global News.
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Gagandeep, who is from India, has only been in Kelowna for a year.
His parents in India are now worried about his safety, according to his roommate, Hartarn Singh.
“It could happen to anybody here. If we are not safe here then what can we do for our safety?” Hartarn said.
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“Everybody is feeling unsafe,” his friend Navsher Singh Sandhu told Castanet. “He got pulled by his hair, all along the mud. They took his turban. That’s totally a hate crime.”
Gagandeep’s friends have organized a GoFundMe page to help with his medical bills, rent and tuition and as he won’t be able to work until he recovers.
With your support, we can help ensure that during Gagandeep’s road to recovery, he doesn’t need to worry about where the money will come from to pay for physio, food, rent or even to have his parents fly to Kelowna from India to see him.
Anyone with information regarding this incident is urged to contact RCMP at 250-762-3300 or leave a tip anonymously through Central Okanagan Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.