Sacramento, California: A man accused of brutally attacking an 82-year old Sikh with a rod outside a gurdwara in a suspected hate crime earlier this month has pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted murder and abusing an elderly.
Gilbert Garcia, 29, is accused of attacking Piara Singh outside the Nanaksar gurdwara in southwest Fresno, located in the heart of the Central Valley of California that has a sizable Sikh population.
The incident is being called a hate crime by the Fresno county district attorney’s office, the Fresno Bee reported. The attack happened just after 7am on May 5.
According to the Fresno police, Singh was approached by a man on a bicycle armed with a steel rod. Without saying a word, the attacker hit him on the head and other parts of the body. Singh suffered broken ribs, lung lacerations and head wounds. Garcia is being held in lieu of $1.7 million bail. A hearing is scheduled for June 26.
The newly-formed American Sikh Congressional Caucus is pushing the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to investigate the case as a hate crime. The incident had sent shock waves not only among the Sikh community in the US but also among other minority groups.
Meeting a long pending demand of Sikhs in the US, attorney general Eric Holder had recommended widening the FBI’s mandate to include Sikhs and few other groups among victims of growing hate crimes.
“Justice department recommended to what’s called the advisory policy board last year that the Uniform Crime Reporting be amended to include anti-Sikh, anti-Arab, anti-Hindu, anti-Middle Eastern categories in the ethnicity or race section,” Holder had said.