IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Sikh man visiting NYC from India brutally attacked in possible hate crime, officials say

Nirmal Singh, 70, was punched Sunday as he walked in Queens. His assailant didn't say a word, New York City police said.

A 70-year-old Sikh man visiting from India was brutally attacked and left with a bloodied face and clothes in an incident being investigated as a possible hate crime, officials with the New York City Department and a Sikh-American advocacy group said.

The victim was identified as Nirmal Singh by the Sikh Coalition, a Sikh-American advocacy group providing Singh with free legal aid following the incident.

Singh was on a walk when he was suddenly punched in the face around 6:45 a.m. Sunday "by an unidentified individual" at 95th Avenue and Lefferts Boulevard in Richmond Hill, Queens, the New York City Police Department said.

Nirmal Singh, an elderly Sikh man believed to be visiting New York, was attacked in Queens on Sunday.
Nirmal Singh, an elderly Sikh man believed to be visiting New York, was attacked in Queens on Sunday.United Sikhs / Twitter

Singh fell to the ground after the blow and the attacker did not say anything to him, according to police.

Singh was taken to a hospital with a laceration, pain and swelling, police said.

Singh suffered a broken nose and severe bruising in the incident, United Sikhs, an international humanitarian organization taking on his case pro-bono, said on Twitter.

Singh had been in Queens for just two weeks, visiting from India, a spokesperson for the Sikh Coalition told NBC News Tuesday.

"Singh's experience is another example of how innocents are target of hatred,” United Sikhs said.

New York City police said they're investigating the incident as a possible bias attack.

Photos from the incident show blood staining Singh’s beard and the front of his jacket.

The Sikh Coalition said Monday they are in touch with the NYPD Hate Crimes Task force in the case. The group said it provided video footage of the attack to aid in the probe.

“Mr. Singh is shaken and still feeling pain from his injuries, but he is gradually recovering," Graham F. West, the communications director of The Sikh Coalition, said.

"He is very grateful to everyone who has stepped forward to help him and express solidarity,” he added.

The investigation is ongoing and no arrests have been made, police said.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul tweeted about the incident on Monday, noting she’s directed the state’s Hate Crime Task Force to assist the NYPD in the probe. 

“My thoughts are with the man who was attacked & our neighbors in the Sikh community,” Hochul said. “We will find the perpetrator & hold them accountable.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James also condemned the attack, tweeting, “Assaulting a member of the Sikh community is despicable, and it’s an attack on all of us as New Yorkers.”

The attack comes as hate-motivated attacks against Asians has surged. From 2019 to 2020 such attacks rose 73 percent, the FBI’s annual hate crime statistics report shows, the most recent year data is available. 

Giselle Klapper, the Sikh Coalition senior staff attorney, said in a statement to NBC News, “Everyone should feel safe enough to simply go for a walk, but the continued rise in hate crimes and bias incidents is increasingly making that impossible for far too many people."

"No one deserves to be targeted by hate because of how they look, how they worship, or any other reason," she added. "We are glad that the NYPD is investigating this incident as a hate crime, because approaching these incidents with bias in mind is the first step to reducing violent hate among our communities.”