An elderly Sikh American resident in Chicago was on Tuesday evening brutally assaulted by a man who called him "Bin Laden" and asked him to "return to his country". The incident comes just days ahead of the commemoration of 9/11 attack anniversary.
Inderjit Singh Mukker, a resident in the Darien suburb of Chicago, "was viciously assaulted after the assailant pulled up to his car yelling racial slurs, including, 'Terrorist, go back to your country, Bin Laden!'," according to a press release by The Sikh Coalition in Chicago.
After verbally assaulting Mukker, the assailant repeatedly punched him in the face, causing fracture in his cheekbone and a laceration to his cheek. The accused was taken into custody.
Mukker was assaulted when he was on his way to a grocery store on S Cass Avenue. The assailant, who was in another car, was repeatedly cutting off Mukker. The latter "pulled over to the side of the road to let him pass, but the driver instead pulled in front of his car and aggressively approached Mr. Mukker's vehicle", the release said.
"The assailant then reached into the car and repeatedly punched Mr. Mukker in the face, causing him to lose consciousness, bleed profusely and suffer a fractured cheekbone and a laceration to his cheek. He was rushed to the hospital, where he received six stitches, treatment for lacerations, bruising and swelling," it added.
Mukker has appealed to Indians not to give such a horrific experience to the Americans in India.
"No American should be afraid to practice their faith in our country," Mukker said.
"I'm thankful for the swift response of authorities to apprehend the individual, but without this being fully investigated as a hate crime, we risk ignoring the horrific pattern of intolerance, abuse and violence that Sikhs and other minority communities in this country continue to face," he added.
The Sikh Coalition's Legal Director Harsimran Kaur has demanded investigation into the incident as a hate crime as the assault was targeted on the people of Sikh community.
"We believe Mr Mukker was targeted and assaulted because of his Sikh religious appearance, race or national origin... We request an immediate investigation and call on local and federal agencies to investigate this attack as a hate crime," Kaur said.
The Sikh Coalition said in the release that the Sikh community has been the victim of hate crimes on several occasions in the past.
In August, 2014, a man was run over and dragged 30 feet by an assailant who called the victim a "terrorist", while in 2012 "a gunman with Neo-Nazi ties walked into a Sikh house of worship (gurdwara) and shot and killed six innocent Sikh victims in Oak Creek, Wisconsin", the release said.
The Sikh Coalition is an organisation that has been representing hate crime victims in the United States for the last 14 years.