Who is Sumit Ahluwalia? NYC Sikh man hit in head with hammer on way to work, wants attack probed as hate crime
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK CITY: A Sikh man was violently attacked with a hammer at a Brooklyn hotel on Monday, sparking a call to action by local communities, who called it a 'hate crime'.
The attack took place at the Quality Inn on Osborn Street, where the victim reportedly works as an operations manager. Surveillance footage shows 32-year-old Sumit Ahluwalia enter the lobby of the hotel, shortly before the Black suspect, who is yet to be identified, appears to hit Ahluwalia in the head with a hammer before fleeing the scene. According to the turban-clad father of two, the attacker spat in his face and made remarks about his race.
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“He pulled out the hammer from his bucket and bang on my head with such intensity,” Ahluwalia told CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon, recalling how the attacker began yelling at him and the front desk staff upon entering the lobby and proceeded to spit in his face three times
“I came moving back and said, ‘Hey brother, what happened?’ [He said,] ‘You’re not my brother. You’re not the same skin. I don’t like you,'” Ahluwalia said.
“Do you think you were targeted?” Dhillon asked.
“I think so because I was the only turban guy who was there,” Ahluwalia responded, completely shaken from the ordeal.
“Now I’m feeling scared somehow … Now when I’m going to work, when I’m walking, I have some fear, like maybe someone is coming,” he continued. “Everyone comes to this country with new hope, but now there’s some other feeling in the mind, like why, I didn’t say anything, why did this happen to me?”
The Indian community of New York City believes the attack was motivated by hate and that Ahluwalia was targeted because he was wearing a turban. Local leaders joined members of the South Asian and Sikh community Saturday to speak out against anti-Asian hate. "We will continue to promote unity in our city, and we will stand up against bias and we will stand up against hate,” City Council Member Adrienne Adams said.
Advocate Japneet Singh told CBS2 that the attack was especially painful considering four Sikhs were recently killed in the deadly FedEx mass shooting in Indianapolis last month. “We should be accepting of everyone. We all are entitled to a dignified life, a respectful life,” he said.
Sumit Ahluwalia says the man spit in his face and said he didn’t like him because of the color of his skin before hitting him in the head with a hammer #Sikh #indian @CBSNewYork #nyc #Brooklyn @NYCMayor @NYPDnews pic.twitter.com/63vyFchddl— Kiran Dhillon (@KiranDhillonTV) May 1, 2021
Authorities are currently investigating the incident. However, the Sikh community reportedly wants it probed as a hate crime. According to CBS2, there have been 68 anti-Asian hate crimes in the city as of last week, compared to 15 during the same period last year.
Ahluwalia told the outlet that he came to the United States with a lot of hope and just wanted to belong.
“People should know that these turban guys, we are here to help. We are not here to harm anyone,” he said. “We are also here struggling, doing a job ourselves. Wake up in the morning at 6 am, go home at 7, 9 sometimes, and we don’t deserve this.”
The victim suffered minor injuries to his head, including some internal bleeding. However, he's expected to be alright. He told CBS2 it was his turban that protected him from more severe injuries.
Anyone with information related to this incident is urged to contact the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-8477. Tips can also be shared online via the NYPDTips Twitter account or NYPDCrimeStoppers.com.