In a shocking incident that has stirred the community, a 17-year-old Sikh student was brutally assaulted after an altercation on a public transit bus in British Columbia’s Kelowna region. The incident took place at the intersection of Rutland Road South and Robson Road East around 4 pm on Monday, according to an official statement from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
Details shared by the World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSOC) reveal that the Grade 11 student was initially blocked from entering the bus by two individuals. Once he boarded, the individuals reportedly threatened him with a lighter and took pictures of him up close. An attempt to turn away led to one of the attackers’ phones falling, triggering a violent reaction. The student was punched and kicked in full view of the bus driver, who, instead of intervening, instructed both the victim and the attackers to disembark.
The assault did not stop upon alighting. The teenager was subjected to further physical abuse, which included being pepper-sprayed. Fortunately, passers-by intervened, putting an end to the assault.
The WSOC highlighted the disturbing fact that this is the second instance this year wherein a Sikh student has been targeted in Kelowna. Earlier in March, 21-year-old Gagandeep Singh was swarmed by a group, subjected to the indignity of having his turban ripped off, and dragged across the sidewalk by his hair.
This recent victim, a newcomer to Canada, expressed his confusion and fear over the unprovoked assault and the derogatory comments thrown at him. Guntaas Kaur, the WSO vice president for British Columbia (BC), stated that he’s apprehensive about returning to school for fear of another attack.
The Kelowna RCMP confirmed that they are in the process of an active investigation, talking to witnesses, and reviewing video evidence. They have identified a teenage suspect and are presently trying to ascertain the motive behind the crime.
Communities across Canada are waiting with bated breath for the outcome of this investigation, hoping for justice and a stronger stand against such hate crimes. This incident serves as a harsh reminder that there is a long way to go in eradicating prejudice and fostering a genuinely inclusive society.