Hindu Priest Attacked Near A Temple In New York’s Queens Area; One Arrested
A Hindu priest wearing religious attire was brutally attacked by a man near a temple in New York’s Queens area around 11 AM on July 18. A man approached from behind and repeatedly assaulted Swami Harish Chander Puri, who suffered bruises all over his body and face.
“He was very angry,” United States news channel PIX 11 quoted Puri, who is now healing, as saying. “I am in a little pain.”
“Sometimes people have no control,” he added, saying that he will pray for the attacker.
“I commend the NYPD [New York Police Department] for making a swift arrest in this case and I am confident that justice will be served,” said Representative of New York’s sixth congressional district, Grace Meng. “I stand with the Hindu community and wish the victim a full recovery.”
According to some devotees at the temple, Puri may have been targeted because of his attire and claimed that the attacker yelled “this is my neighbourhood” at the time of the assault. He hit and punched Puri with an umbrella-like object, a New York Police Department spokesperson said.
52-year-old Sergio Gouveia has been arrested in connection with the case and charged with felony assault and harassment in the second degree. At present, investigators are not treating the case as a hate crime.
Hindu advocacy group Sadhana, however, released a statement urging NYPD to investigate the case as a hate crime. Several multi-faith religious and community leaders have backed the statement, noting how the attack took place in the wake of United States President Donald Trump’s tweets aimed at four non-white congresswomen.
Just a few days before the incident, Donald Trump asked four democratic Congresswomen, including Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar, a Somali-born US citizen, to “go back” to where they are from.
Our Country is Free, Beautiful and Very Successful. If you hate our Country, or if you are not happy here, you can leave!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 16, 2019
Some days later at a Trump rally in North Carolina, a crowd began chanting “send her back”.
“Bigotry and xenophobia does not distinguish between Hindus and Muslims, or black or brown skin,” the statement said. “When the U.S. President targets immigrants and refugees and encourages chants of ‘send her back’ at rallies, this results in real harm inflicted on our communities.”
We are deeply heartbroken by reports of a brutal attack on Swami Harish Chander Puri ji, priest of the Shiv Shakti Peeth…