Daljeet Singh is demanding that Texas law enforcement agencies file criminal charges against individuals who allegedly falsely accused him of a terrorist bomb threat and who allegedly restrained him on a Greyhound bus while traveling through Amarillo, Texas, on Feb. 21, 2016, according to The Sikh Coalition, which is representing Singh.
“The only crime I committed was wearing a turban, having a beard, and speaking in a different language to another brown man on a bus,” Singh said in a statement. “I still cannot believe that this happened to me in America.”
As an observant Sikh originally from India, Singh wears a turban and beard as articles of his faith. Singh had recently been granted asylum and was travelling from Phoenix, Arizona, to Indianapolis, Indiana, to begin his new life in America. According to The Sikh Coalition, Singh speaks almost no English, and while on the bus, he met a Pakistani-American man, Mohammed Chotri, who spoke Punjabi. The two men sat and conversed together in Punjabi during the cross-country bus ride.
"The list of things brown people can't do on public transportation is growing — we can't get a can of Diet Coke, we can't switch seats on a bus or a plane, we can't speak in a language other than English, really we can't be human beings."
According to The Sikh Coalition, a woman on the bus reported to police that the two men were “acting weird,” speaking Arabic, and discussing a bomb. In Amarillo, Texas, two other passengers detained Singh and Chotri in their seats until police came and arrested them at gunpoint. Police also removed Singh’s turban and distributed mug shots of him without his turban to local media. He was detained for approximately 30 hours. After being interviewed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation through a Punjabi language interpreter, both men were cleared of all allegations of wrongdoing, and no charges were filed.
"Whether it's a Sikh man on a Greyhound bus, or an Arabic speaker on a Southwest airplane, the xenophobic fear and bigotry in our country is out of control,” Gurjot Kaur, senior staff attorney at The Sikh Coalition, told NBC News. “By filing this complaint, we hope to bring attention to the crisis facing minority communities today. The list of things brown people can't do on public transportation is growing — we can't get a can of Diet Coke, we can't switch seats on a bus or a plane, we can't speak in a language other than English, really we can't be human beings."
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NBC News contacted Potter County Attorney Scott Brumley for comment Thursday morning. He has yet to respond.
Brumley told NBC Affiliate KAMR-TV that the investigation into the passenger who made the complaint is ongoing, but to prosecute he would have to show proof that the passenger knowingly filed a false police report.
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