In a troubling incident that underscores the persistent challenges of hate and intolerance, the Indian-origin Sikh Mayor of Hoboken, Ravi Bhalla, recently revealed that he and his family were targeted with a series of threatening letters last year. These letters not only demanded his resignation but also threatened to take his life and the lives of his loved ones, solely because of his Sikh faith.
Mayor Ravi Bhalla, who has been at the helm of Hoboken’s leadership since 2017, spoke out about these disturbing events in an interview with CBS News. With unwavering resolve, he asserted that hate has no place in his city, and he remains committed to serving its residents.
For Mayor Bhalla, who proudly wears his turban as a symbol of his Sikh identity, the threats were deeply unsettling. He recounted how his family started receiving these ominous letters, with the first one over a year ago, urging him to resign. However, the situation escalated dramatically when a second letter explicitly threatened his life. The third letter, the most chilling of all, warned, “This is your last warning. If you don’t resign immediately, we will kill you, we’ll kill your wife, we’ll kill your children.”
Mayor Bhalla described the emotional turmoil caused by the threats, stating, “There was a lot of angst, anger, a lot of hate, combined with actual threats upon my life and the life of my children and my wife.”
The seriousness of the situation prompted law enforcement agencies to step in, providing Mayor Bhalla and his family with 24-hour security, including protection for his two children at school. His primary concern was for his children, emphasizing that while he chose to be mayor, his kids did not choose to be subjected to such behavior.
During the same period when Mayor Bhalla was receiving these threatening letters, his neighbors, brother, and several city colleagues also received packages containing sexually explicit and threatening materials. The person responsible for these actions was eventually caught and charged, but the individual behind the threatening letters remains at large.
Mayor Bhalla is acutely aware of the challenges that Sikh-Americans have faced since the tragic events of 9/11. As a Sikh-American himself, he emphasized his pride in being an American and called for equal treatment for all citizens. He recognized the lingering extremism in America and lamented that this strain exists even in a city as diverse as Hoboken. His hope is that by shedding light on such incidents, raising awareness, and fostering education and love, society can work together to eradicate hatred and intolerance.