New York Sikh Taxi Driver Repeatedly Punched, Told to “Go Back to Your Country”

New York Sikh Taxi Driver Repeatedly Punched, Told to “Go Back to Your Country”

January 12, 2022 (New York, NY) — On January 3, a Sikh taxi driver who lives in New York City was physically attacked and berated outside of his cab at JFK airport. This individual (anonymized as ‘Mr. Singh’ to respect his request for privacy) has retained the Sikh Coalition to provide free legal guidance as the investigation into his attacker moves forward.

On that morning, Mr. Singh had parked his cab at the Terminal 4 taxi stand when another driver blocked his vehicle in. When Mr. Singh picked up a customer, he stepped partway out of his car to ask the other driver to move. The other driver attempted to hit Mr. Singh with his own car door; he then began repeatedly punching Mr. Singh in the head, chest, and arms, causing his dastaar (turban) to become unraveled and fall off, and called him “turbaned people” and shouted at him to “go back to your country.”

Part of the attack was captured in a viral video that circulated on Twitter last week. However, out of respect for Mr. Singh’s privacy (given that his dastaar was knocked off) and in accordance with his request that he not be publicly identified, the Sikh Coalition is not further sharing that footage at this time. While Mr. Singh has declined to give interviews at this time, he has provided the following quote to the Sikh Coalition: “I was shocked and angered to be assaulted for doing nothing but minding my own business while working–no one should experience such hate. I am hopeful that the police can identify, arrest, and charge the person who attacked me so that I can move forward.”

Mr. Singh filed a report with the Port Authority Police Department (PAPD) immediately after the incident. The Sikh Coalition is currently working to ensure that the report paints an accurate picture of the attack given the language barrier during the initial conversations. To that end, yesterday, our staff accompanied Mr. Singh to a meeting with a detective to provide language assistance and legal support.

“We have every expectation that bias will be considered as a factor in this outrageous attack, given the evidence of what the other driver said and did to Mr. Singh,” said Amrith Kaur Aakre, Sikh Coalition Legal Director (she/her). “The Sikh Coalition is appreciative of all who have stepped forward to support Mr. Singh and called attention to his assault. As the investigation moves forward, we will work towards a just outcome that holds the attacker accountable for his actions–while also reiterating that the Sikh community remains an integral part of New York City.”

Sikhs in the United States continue to experience bias- and hate-driven attacks on account of their visually identifiable articles of faith (including dastaars) as well as perceptions about their country of origin. According to the most recent FBI data, Sikhs remain in the top three most frequently targeted groups for religiously-motivated hate crimes and bias incidents nationwide. In the Sikh Coalition’s experience, taxi and rideshare drivers in particular are at a heightened risk of kinds of violent attacks; in recent years, we have provided free legal aid to multiple Sikh drivers attacked across the country, and we continue to provide know-your-rights resources proactively to help the community stay safe.


To reiterate, Mr. Singh is not willing to speak to the press at this time and has asked not to be publicly identified. Moreover, due to the traumatic nature of the video of the attack, the Sikh Coalition respectfully requests that news outlets refrain from further publishing that footage. We will continue to provide updates on the investigation into Mr. Singh’s attacker. For more information about this case or the Sikh Coalition’s ongoing work to both provide free legal aid to Sikhs impacted by bigotry and bias as well as educate the broader public about Sikhs and Sikhism, please contact

Source: New York Sikh Taxi Driver Repeatedly Punched, Told to “Go Back to Your Country” – Sikh Coalition


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