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Elderly Sikh man dies after being repeatedly punched following accident

New York, Oct 23 (IANS) An elderly Sikh man hit his head and died after he was punched repeatedly by a 30-year-old man following a car accident in New York City, a media report said.

Jasmer Singh was rushed to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in Queens in critical condition where he died of a brain injury a day after he was assaulted on October 19.

Gilbert Augustin was arrested on October 20 and charged with manslaughter and assault, among other lesser charges, the New York-based Daily News reported.

Police said Singh and Augustin collided on the Van Wyck Expressway near Hillside Avenue in Kew Gardens around 12 p.m. on October 19 and both cars had dents and scratches.

Prosecutors said quoting witnesses that they heard a man say “no police, no police” when Singh went to call 911 and saw him snatching the phone from Singh’s hands.

Singh got out of the car and followed Augustin in an attempt to get his phone back as the two argued, the Daily News said.

When Singh was walking back towards his car after getting his phone back, Augustin punched him three times in the head and face, witnesses said.

Singh fell to the ground and hit his head, while Augustin hopped back into his Ford Mustang and took off, according to a criminal complaint.

Police arrested Augustin about two miles from the crash site and found he had a suspended drivers license and his Alabama license plate did not match his New York registration.

Following an arraignment in Queens on October 21, Augustin has been held without bail. The New York Police Department (NYPD) Hate Crime Task Force is not yet investigating the incident, which they believe was sparked by a car crash, a police spokesperson said.

Responding to the incident, New York Mayor Eric Adams said on Sunday that he will be meeting Sikh leaders this week to discuss the needs of the community following the incident.

“Jasmer Singh loved his city and deserved so much more than his tragic death. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I want our Sikh community to know you have more than our condolences. You have our sacred vow that we reject the hatred that took this innocent life and we will protect you,” Adams wrote on X.

“Our team will be meeting with Sikh leaders this week to discuss the needs of this critical community in this challenging moment,” he said.

The incident comes days after 19-year-old Mani Sandhu was punched multiple times and an attempt was made to remove his turban onboard a Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) bus in New York City.

Sandhu said the hate-motivated attack left him “shaken and angry”.

Releasing its annual report of hate crimes statistics in 2022 last week, the FBI recorded 198 cases of anti-Sikh hate crimes.

Stating that religiously-motivated hate crime victimisations were at their highest with a 17 per cent increase since 2021, the FBI said that Sikhs still remain the second-most targeted group in the nation.

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