By Devasish Ray
In a random act of irrational brutality that has shaken the quite neighborhood of the Greencastle area of Silver Spring Maryland; two elderly Sikh gentlemen were beaten up mercilessly by a group of African American teenagers on September 15, 2007
It was cool evening; a slight nip was in the air when Bhupinder Singh Nibber and his brother in law Darshan Singh Sarang decided to take a walk in their picturesque backyard which trails into a small lake surrounded by lush green trees and bushes. Nibber, 75 years old had taken a walk regularly in these safe surroundings regularly. Not that day! For 5 minutes into the walk a group of African American teenagers aged between 14 and 16 years approached them menacingly and punched Sarang, 85, squarely in the eye, knocking him down. As Sarang collapsed to the ground moaning in pain the alleged assailants rained blows on him, kicking him in the ribs and stomach.
As Sarang was loosing consciousness, Nibber completely perplexed, intervened questioning the assailants. “Why are you doing this,” he cried out, reaching for his cell phone. “Do you want me to call the police?”
This infuriated the assailants even more and now they turned their ire on Nibber. “It sounded like a bullet shot,” recalled Nibber, wincing in pain, as a blow landed on his left temple followed by a punch in the ribs and a kick to his head.
As the situation turned from shock to the realization that both of them could be dead in a matter of minutes, they started shouting…Help! Help! They are going to kill us!
Fearing a reprisal from neighbors, the assailants fled leaving the two victims senseless on the ground. As both regained consciousness they gathered themselves and slowly limped to their house. Sudesh, wife of Bhupinder Singh was aghast when she saw her husband at the door. His turban was in his hand and face swollen as he staggered into the house looking for support to stand. Sudesh immediately called the emergency number and police responded within minutes.
The police scouted the area for the assailants and not finding them ascertained that they were not from the neighborhood. Though this incident took place nearly a week ago, the police are clueless. Repeated attempts by this correspondent to solicit some response from the concerned investigating officer have yet to yield results. Phone calls have not been returned till date.
Surveying the neighborhood, this correspondent was surprised to note that the distance from the scene of the crime and the residential houses is only a few yards. That no one heard their cries for help is a bit hard to digest. However, one is yet to determine whether this incident was a hate crime or a teenager’s initiation into a street gang. It is common knowledge that teenagers who join street gangs have to prove themselves by some act of violence.
While Nibber and Sarang come to terms with what happened they are not sure whether it was a hate crime or gang related violence. “I do not know whether they thought that we overheard their conversation or it was plain and simple that I was a turbaned Sikh,” said Nibber. Sarang was too distraught to even talk.
Whatever may the reason be for this senseless act of violence against two elderly Sikhs, it is bewildering that the assailants had no regard for the age of these two victims. The result could have been fatal.
While the Sikh and the Indian American community in the Washington DC metropolitan area is outraged there is little they could do except protest. What is ironical is that the newly elected County Executive Ike Legget lives just 2 miles away from the crime scene.