Aug 23rd, 2012
8th Bhadon (Samvat 543 Nanakshahi)
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Press Release

Brutal beating of a 72 year old Sikh man in NJ, followed by arrest for keeping Kirpan, an article of Sikh faith

Paterson, New Jersey: 72 year old Avtar Singh, a gas station owner and one of the founding members of Glen Rock Gurdwara in New Jersey, was brutally beaten by his neighbor, Edward Koscovski, who owns a car business in Paterson (New Jersey) and shares a common driveway with Avtar Singh.

Bhai Avtar Singh, 72 year old man, founding member of the Glenrock Gurdwara in New Jersey Site where the incident took place in Paterson, New Jersey

On July 26th, Avtar Singh Ji went to Edward Koscovski’s shop to request him to move his truck that was parked and blocking the entrance of Avtar Singh’s gas station. The request turned into an altercation in which Avtar Singh Ji was brutally assaulted. “I kept on yelling that please let me go but nothing moved Edward from hitting me. When I turned around using all my strength, Edward smashed my face, broke my teeth and kept punching me in the stomach. He grabbed my Kirpan and threw it at his attendant. The attendant removed the Kirpan from the mian (cover) and hid the mian (cover) in a room inside. He also snatched my phone and put it out of sight” said Avtar Singh, who suffered injuries to his face and stomach.

Upon arrival at the scene, the police arrested the 72 year old Avtar Singh and charged him with posession of a weapon  (Kirpan). He was questioned before anyone attended to his injuries and then taken to the hospital and was handcuffed to the hospital bed during his stay at the hospital. He was then taken to the police station and jailed till his family members filed his bail application.

The Kirpan is one of the five K’s - Kesh (uncut hair covered by turban), Kangha (wooden comb), Kara (metal bracelet) , Kachera (specific cotton undergarment) and Kirpan (small dagger) - that is carried by initiated Sikhs at all times.

UNITED SIKHS has contacted the Civil Rights Division and the Community Relations Service Division in the United States Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), as well as the State of New Jersey Attorney General’s office for investigation and is following up on Avtar Singh’s case to be heard next Thursday. UNITED SIKHS will also follow up with the Paterson police regarding the questionable behavior of the police officer who arrested Avtar Singh.

Although this incident occurred prior to the Wisconsin tragedy, it reinforces the lack of cultural sensitivity training within law enforcement agencies, especially regarding the Sikh Kakkars/articles of faith. The five K’s - Kesh (uncut hair covered by turban), Kangha (wooden comb), Kara (metal bracelet) , Kachera (specific cotton undergarment) and Kirpan (small dagger) are carried by initiated Sikhs at all times.

UNITED SIKHS will continue to assist Avtar Singh on his right to practice his faith and carry the Kirpan.

UNITED SIKHS also asks all Sikhs to practice their faith fearlessly and report any racially biased incidents to them.
 If you feel you have been a target of a bias based crime/ incident, please report it here

To speak to a UNITED SIKHS representative directly, please visit http://unitedsikhs.org/contact.php
to find an office near you.


Issued By:
Manvinder Singh, Director
International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy
Tel: 1-646-688-3525;1-888-243-1690

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