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Sikh Uber driver 'held' at gunpoint

News Agencies | Updated on: 16 February 2018, 9:36 IST

A Sikh Uber driver claimed that he was held at gunpoint by a male passenger, who asked him racial questions regarding his national origin and his allegiance to the United States.

According to The Huffington Post, the driver, Gurjeet Singh, a religious leader from northwestern Illinois, said the incident occurred on the night of January 28, when he picked up the male passenger and a female passenger, the Sikh Coalition said, an organisation working towards the realisation of civil and human rights for all Sikhs in the US.

The male passenger then started him questions like- "Which country do you belong to?" and "Do you serve our country or do you serve your country?"

A "confused and scared" Gurjeet, who speaks limited English, explained that he served both the US and India and was an Indian since his parents lived in India.

He continued to explain about his religion when to everyone's shock, the male passenger pulled out a gun and pointed at him.

"I hate turban people; I hate beard people," he exclaimed.

The female passenger, who was also in the car, "forcibly removed" the male passenger from the vehicle. She apologised for the male passenger's behaviour and told Gurjeet to drop her home and to avoid taking the same route back to eliminate another encounter with the man.

Gurjeet allegedly informed the police about the incident on January 29. However, the male passenger has still not been arrested or charged.

"We do still remain concerned that no arrest has been made and the State's Attorney's Office has yet to file hate crime charges. Mr Singh and the local Sikh community have the right to feel safe. The reality is that hate crimes are not only attacks on individuals; they affect the entire community. They make all of us less safe, and everybody should be outraged by this," the Sikh Coalition's legal director and Singh's lawyer Amrith Kaur said in a statement.

"To be attacked for something you love and respect about yourself, that is really being attacked at the core. He was really fearful and even now he feels insecure about whether this man will come back and attack him again, whether other people will feel emboldened by this as well," she added.

An Uber">Uber spokesperson said that the company was gathering all the information requested. It has removed the rider's access to Uber">Uber and is "fully cooperating with law enforcement on their investigation."

"Uber">Uber does not tolerate any form of discrimination on the app, and we have reached out to the [driver] to offer our support," the spokesperson said in a statement.

Gurjeet came to the US to serve the Sikh community in the Quad City area on the Mississippi River three years ago as a 'granthi', an individual who helps to lead Sikh congregations through hymns and prayers.

His lawyer Kaur said that he was a legal resident in the US and had started driving with Uber">Uber to supplement his income, along with his religious duties.

In recent years, many Sikhs in the US have repeatedly been targets of hate crimes by the local population and are often confused with Muslims.


First published: 16 February 2018, 9:36 IST