Sikh-American assault: US won't press hate crime charges, calls it 'road rage'

Terming the incident as a "road rage" case, US authorities have not brought hate crime charges against a teenager who brutally attacked a 53-year-old Sikh-American man, sparking outrage among community members.

PTI| Last Updated: Sep 12, 2015, 10:47 AM IST
Sikh-American assault: US won't press hate crime charges, calls it 'road rage'

New York: Terming the incident as a "road rage" case, US authorities have not brought hate crime charges against a teenager who brutally attacked a 53-year-old Sikh-American man, sparking outrage among community members.

Inderjit Singh Mukker was called a "terrorist" and "Bin Laden" by the assailant in what is being described as a hate crime on September 8 in Chicago's Darien suburb.

DuPage County State's Attorney Robert Berlin announced that aggravated battery charges have been filed against the Willowbrook teen, terming the incident as a "road rage."

The juvenile petition alleges five counts of felony aggravated battery.

"What happened to me on Tuesday night is the definition of hate," Mukker said, as he expressed strong disappointment at the decision, saying he is "appalled and disgusted."

Advocacy group the Sikh Coalition said "despite clear hate crime evidence" and verbal indications by the Darien Police Department throughout the week that the assailant was going to be charged with a hate crime, the offender will be tried in juvenile court.

"This disappointing decision directly contradicts Illinois hate crimes law...," the group said.

The Sikh Coalition's Legal Director Harsimran Kaur said the problem of hate in the nation cannot be addressed "if you refuse to acknowledge its existence."

"This announcement is shocking and a completely unacceptable decision by the DuPage County prosecutor. If Illinois is going to drop the ball, then we demand that the US Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division and the US Attorney's Office prosecute the offender under federal hate crime law immediately," Kaur said.

"In fact, in my many years of representing hate crime victims, the hate crimes charge is as clear and as obvious as it gets. To ignore the racial element of the crime sends a clear message that State's Attorney Robert Berlin is not interested in protecting vulnerable communities."

The defendant had punched Mukker in the face, leaving him with severe facial injuries.

When approached by police, the defendant resisted arrest and punched a police officer in the face, DuPage County said.

"The allegations against this defendant are very serious. Regardless of what was said or done by either of the parties allegedly involved in this incident, physical attacks will not be tolerated and will be met with the full force of the law. People have to remember that if you find yourself involved in a traffic altercation, stay calm and don't let your emotions get the better of you," Berlin said.

A future court date has not yet been set for the defendant.

The Sikh Coalition along with Mukker's children - Kanwar Singh Mukker and Baljot Kaur - have launched a petition asking the Department of Justice to bring federal hate crime charges against his assailant.

Mukker's son said in a statement that the DuPage County State's Attorney's Office is sending a different message by not charging the assailant with a hate crime.

"Despite being punched repeatedly through a car window while being called racial slurs, we are now being told that this is not a hate crime, but a case of road rage," Mukker's children wrote.

Launching the petition, they called on citizens to tell US Department of Justice to bring federal hate crime charges against their father's assailant immediately.

"By adding your name to this petition you are telling the world that America stands together to #takeonhate," they said.

In the few hours that the petition was launched, it had garnered the support of about 250 people.

Mukker, a US citizen, was repeatedly punched in the face by the assailant during the incident.

He lost consciousness, bled profusely and suffered a fractured cheekbone and a laceration to his cheek. He was rushed to the hospital, where he received six stitches, treatment for lacerations, bruising and swelling.