Elderly Sikh beaten up for carrying kirpan

web4PATERSON, NJ: Avtar Singh (72), a gas station owner and one of the founding members of Glen Rock Gurdwara in New Jersey, was brutally beaten by his neighbor, Edward Koscovski, who owns a car business in Paterson (New Jersey) and shares a common driveway with Avtar Singh.
On July 26, Avtar Singh went to Edward Koscovski’s shop to request him to move his truck that was parked blocking the entrance of Avtar Singh’s gas station. The request turned into an altercation in which Avtar Singh was brutally assaulted.
“I kept on yelling that please let me go but nothing moved Edward from hitting me. When I turned around using all my strength, Edward smashed my face, broke my teeth and kept punching me in the stomach. He grabbed my Kirpan and threw it at his attendant. The attendant removed the Kirpan from the (cover) and hid the cover in a room inside. He also snatched my phone and put it out of sight” said Avtar Singh, who suffered injuries to his face and stomach.
Upon arrival at the scene, the police arrested the 72 year old Avtar Singh and charged him with possession of a weapon (Kirpan). He was questioned before anyone attended to his injuries and then taken to hospital and was handcuffed to the hospital bed during his stay there.

He was then taken to the police station and jailed till his family members filed his bail application.
The Kirpan is one of the five essentials of Sikh faith that is carried by initiated Sikhs at all times. United Sikhs has contacted the Civil Rights Division and the Community Relations Service Division in the United States Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), as well as the State of New Jersey Attorney General’s office for investigation and is following up on Avtar Singh’s case.
It will also follow up with the Paterson police regarding the questionable behavior of the police officer who arrested Avtar Singh.

Although this incident occurred prior to the Wisconsin tragedy, it reinforces the lack of cultural sensitivity training within law enforcement agencies, especially regarding the Sikh articles of faith.

India Post News Service

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