Daljeet Singh was allowed a day earlier to reside in the US till his asylum case came up.
By Dileep Thekkethil
When Punjab-born Daljeet Singh entered the United States seeking asylum, and was then allowed to reside in the country by immigration authorities in Phoenix, Arizona, till his case came up for hearing, he thought the worst was behind him. He was mistaken: a day later, heard talking to a Pakistani immigrant like himself on a Greyhound bus, he was held down by other bus passengers who thought the duo were terrorists and then handed over to the police.
Singh, who wears a turban, boarded a Greyhound bus in Texas, in February. When he started talking to the Pakistani national, one of his fellow passengers who overheard their conversation, mistook them of discussing â€œbombâ€ and alerted other passengers.
According to The Sikh Coalition that has taken up Daljeet Singhâ€™s case, he was a subject of blatant racial, ethnic and religious profiling, and has now requested that criminal charges to be filed against the people who made false accusations against Singh, who was arrested and subsequently cleared of all criminal charges in Amarillo, Texas on February 21, 2016.
The organization also called for action against the news outlets that carried defaming stories about Daljeet Singh, some calling him a terrorist and publishing mugshots sans his turban. The turban is an article of faith for Sikhsâ€™ they donâ€™t remove it in public.
Mohammed Chotri, the Â Pakistani national who indulged in the conversation with Singh was also detained by the police but later released after finding him innocent.
Singh was earlier granted a parole by an immigration detention center near Phoenix to lawfully live and work in the United States during which his refugee application will be processed. The unfortunate incident happened just a day after he was freed from the detention centre.
â€œThe only crime I committed was wearing a turban, having a beard, and speaking in a different language to another brown man on a bus,â€ Singh was quoted as saying by the Sikh Coalition. â€œI still cannot believe that this happened to me in America.â€
â€œWhen you actually see something you should say something,â€ said Sikh Coalition Senior Staff Attorney, Gurjot Kaur. â€œHowever, what happens when you see nothing and concoct a story that is completely baseless because you donâ€™t like the color of someoneâ€™s skin, their religious headwear, and the fact that they speak a different language? There must be consequences when bigotry and xenophobia trump common sense on a bus deep in the heart of Texasâ€, he added.
Kaur added: â€œnobody deserves to be treated this way in our country. We trust that local law enforcement will treat our complaint with the same vigilance and vigor as the initial complaint received.”
— Sikh Coalition (@sikh_coalition) April 27, 2016