sikh men
Sikhs in the US often face hate crimes as they are mistaken with Taliban terrorists, who also sport similar turbansReuters File

A US man, charged with hate crime, was sentenced to a 13-year prison term for attacking an 82-year-old Sikh man at a gurudwara (Sikh temple) about two years ago.

Gilbert Garcia Jr had attacked the octogenarian, Piara Singh, outside the Nanaksar Sikh Temple in south Fresno in May 2013. Garcia beat up Singh with a steel rod, as he ranted that he would destroy his "mosque" even as the religious place happened to be a gurudwara, not a mosque where Muslims pray.

The sentencing on 15 September was welcomed by the Sikh community. "Justice has been served," Ike Grewal, a local Sikh community activist told The Fresno Bee.

"Not only does the victim and his family have closure, but so does the entire Sikh community because there was an acknowledgement that a hate crime occurred."

Singh was admitted to a hospital for more than a week with head wounds, broken ribs and lung lacerations. He told the court that he is still scared of venturing out and often gets paranoid about being attacked again.

Fresno County Superior Court Judge Alvin Harrell III, while pronouncing the verdict, noted that Garcia was not mentally stable, PTI reported.

"It stands to reason from common sense that anyone who would engage in this type of horrific behaviour would be someone who is classified as not necessarily being normal," the judge said.

There has been a spurt in hate crimes against Sikh community in the US since the 9/11 attack. People of the community have faced numerous attacks over mistaken identities. They are often confused with Taliban terrorists, who also sport similar turbans.

Merely days before the latest 9/11 anniversary, a Sikh man was assaulted by a teen who even called him "Bin Laden" and asked him to "return to his country" in Chicago on Tuesday 8 September. A court has charged the the teen with hate crime for punching the 53-year old Sikh man, Inderjit Mukker.