An 82-year-old Sikh man was assaulted and robbed in Richmond Hill on Monday night, Sept. 5, according to police.
The victim, Onkar Singh, was walking nearby 112th Street and Liberty Avenue at 9 p.m. when two unknown individuals approached him from behind and punched him multiple times causing him to fall to the ground, police said.
According to police, Singh suffered lacerations and swelling to the right side of his face. He was taken to Jamaica Hospital for treatment and has been released.
The suspects took his cellphone and fled in an unknown direction, police said.
In a video shared on Instagram by community leader Japneet Singh, Singh describes the harrowing moment he was attacked.
“I said, ‘Don’t beat me. Don’t kill me. Take my money, whatever I have,’” Singh said who had about $50 or $60 in his pocket. “They didn’t answer me and kept hitting me. Then they hit me in the chest and I fell down.”
According to Japneet, a lieutenant from the 106th Precinct notified him Wednesday night that Singh’s stolen phone has been retrieved and a suspect is in custody.
This is in part due to everyone who amplified the incident and ensured some sort of justice was delivered to Singh, Japneet said.
“It’s definitely some positive news, but depending on what he’s charged with and bail, I don’t know how long he’ll be in. That same individual has committed numerous crimes,” Japneet said. “In my mind, there’s a strong enough case for him to be behind bars for a while.”
The case is not being investigated as a hate crime, according to Japneet.
While they’re happy with the arrest of a suspect, Japneet says the community is not pleased with how the NYPD allegedly handled the matter.
“It had to take a person that is involved in the system to get involved with Onkar Singh. He went to the cops himself and they dismissed him and that was very shocking. We are not happy with that as a community,” Japneet said. “Hopefully, going forward, every precinct that serves the community understands that these matters need to be handled with urgency and diligence.”
Singh is the latest victim in a string of attacks against elderly Sikh men and a woman in the community.
In April, a 70-year-old Sikh man who was taking a walk early in the morning, was brutally assaulted and suffered a swollen black eye, broken nose and a head injury. Two weeks later, two Sikh men were also attacked by the same perpetrator. In May, another Sikh man fell victim to an assault and was robbed at gunpoint. Later that month, a Sikh woman was pulled inside a vehicle and robbed of her jewelry.
According to Japneet, the Sikh community is no stranger to violence and hate, but the attacks that have been taking place “in cold vain” within the last four months should be a wake-up call for all.
“I think it’s time we take matters into our own hands. Unfortunately, we don’t live in the same world that we used to, and we can’t rely solely on law enforcement and our government to do things,” Japneet said. “We are hoping to launch a community patrol to serve as the voice, ears and eyes that the community needs in a time when nothing seems to be working for Black and brown families. If the current system isn’t working, then we have to make a system that works for us.”
Meanwhile, Queens Borough President Donovan Richards condemned the attack against Singh in a Twitter post.
“Queens will not stand for episodes of violence like these, where our elders don’t even feel safe walking in their neighborhood. Our Sikh community has the full, unconditional support of not only my office, but also the entire borough,” Richards said. “We’re wishing Mr. Singh a speedy recovery.”
Queens will not stand for episodes of violence like these, where our elders don't even feel safe walking in their neighborhood. Our Sikh community has the full, unconditional support of not only my office, but also the entire borough.
We're wishing Mr. Singh a speedy recovery. https://t.co/vJ1onV36d6
— Queens Borough President Donovan Richards (@QnsBPRichards) September 7, 2022