WASHINGTON: An Indian-descent man has been charged with hate crime against another Indian-descent man in perhaps the first of its kind case.
California prosecutors have charged Tejinder Singh, 37 with hate crime in violation of civil rights, assault and disturbing the peace by using offensive language. He is not in custody but on probation and a court-date is awaited.
Indians and Indian-descent Americans have been targeted for hateful comments and remarks and even violence. Srinivas Kuchibhotla, a computer engineer, was killed in Kansas in 2017 by a man who said he had mistaken him for someone from the Middle East. Balbir Singh Sodhi was the first person killed in the backlash against the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. He was once again mistaken for someone from the Middle East. Sikhs find themselves targeted frequently.
But the Monday incident in California is perhaps the first instance of an Indian-descent American being accused of committing a hate crime against another India-descent person. Singh picked on the victim’s religion, his country of birth and his people.
In a video recording of the incident, Singh is seen unloading himself on another customer, who has self-identified himself as Krishnan Jayaraman at a Taco Bell restaurant in California on Monday.
Singh repeatedly called him “dirty ass Hindu”, “ugly ass Hindu” and frequently used the N-word. He switched to Punjabi to abuse Indira Gandhi, the Indian Prime Minister who was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards.
He mocked Jayaraman’s order of “bean burritos”, which are vegetarian, and the way he looked, and repeatedly pointed to his “open toes”, calling him “disgusting”.
“Maybe wear some socks. Nobody wants to see your ugly a** feet. You’re disgusting. You people are f***ing ugly. You’re disgusting and nasty. You’re disgusting, dog, seriously,” he said.
Singh went on to tell Jayaraman that it were “you people” who were the “first to kneel” before the East India Company, the English trading company that led to the colonisation of India by the British for more than 200 years.
The man went on to disparage Jayaraman as one of those who came to the US on H-1B visa, a short-term non-immigrant work visa that is issued for American companies to hire foreign workers to make up for shortage of local hands in high specialty fields. The programme has been held responsible by its critics for layoffs and the backlash has been felt by Indians working here and Indian Americans at large.
“The part that sucked was that the abuser spit on the counter where food was being served and despite pointing that out, the Taco Bell employees continued serving the food on it,” Jayaraman wrote in a post on twitter, in which he also thanked Fremont police for responding.
The Fremont incident came close on the heels of another incident in which Indians or Indian Americans were targets of hateful and abusive language.
“Go back to India, we don’t want you here,” a woman, who identified herself as Mexican-American told a group of Indian Americans in Plano, Texas last Saturday.
She was arrested later. “This incident is a hate crime in accordance with Texas laws,” the Plano police said in a statement. “This incident may also be a hate crime based on federal law, and we are working closely with the FBI and the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division on this case.”