In an incident that has been termed a possible hate crime by police officials, a Columbia University professor belonging to the Sikh faith was attacked by a group of youngsters on Saturday night in New York, reports said.
Prabhjot Singh, an assistant professor at Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs, told police officials that he was walking along 110th Street near Lennox Avenue at the northern end of Central Park, when the suspects attacked him and punched him numerous times after shouting anti-Muslim statements, NBC 4 New York reported.
"I heard 'Get Osama' and then 'terrorists,' and then the next thing I felt was someone moving past me, ripping at my beard and then hitting me in the chin," Singh, who wears a turban and sports a beard, told NBC 4 New York.
Once he fell to the ground, the attackers, a group of at least 20 young males on bikes, punched him in the face and continued kicking him.
"There's no doubt in my mind it was a bias-related event," Singh said.
According to reports, Singh was later taken to Mount Sinai Hospital and had surgery on his jaw.
Simran Jeet Singh, a friend of the professor's, told Columbia Spectator that besides a fractured jaw, Singh also had bruising and swelling across his face. He was discharged from the hospital sometime after midnight on Saturday and met with officials from the NYPD Hate Crime Task Force and the university's Department of Public Safety.
Last year, Singh co-authored a column in the New York Times detailing how Sikhs are often mistaken for Muslims after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and have fallen victims to hate crimes. Singh’s article sought a change in the FBI's crime-reporting system, which classifies "nearly all hate violence against American Sikhs as instances of anti-Islamic or anti-Muslim hate crimes."
“As a result, we do not have official statistics on the extent of hate crimes in which Sikhs are targeted, despite a long history of such violence,” Singh wrote at the time.
There are about half a million or more people practicing the Sikh religion in the U.S., according to estimates. And, in August, a white supremacist opened fire in a Sikh temple in a suburb of Milwaukee, Wisc., killing six people and wounding four others.
Keerthi Mohan is an IBTimes reporter covering entertainment and human interest stories.