A Sikh man is rightly raising h*ll to Texas authorities and demanding that action be taken after he was dragged off of a Greyhound bus and spent the next 30 hours being questioned by the Amarillo authorities for committing no other crime than wearing a turban and speaking a language other than English.
Daljeet Singh, a 30-year-old Sikh man who speaks hardly any English, is a political asylum seeker from India. After spending about a month in an immigration detention center in Arizona, he had set out on his journey from Phoenix to Indianapolis only one day before the frightening incident.
In a statement, Singh explained that while he was traveling he spoke to friends and family members on the phone in his native language, Punjabi. He also met another man on the bus who spoke the same language, a Pakistani man named Mohammed Chotri, and they sat for a while and talked. Both men were happy to have come across someone they could share a few minutes of conversation with.
When they reached Amarillo, though, people began to get suspicious of them. Other passengers began taking pictures of them and some were even showing aggression towards them. A woman on the bus apparently decided to report that she had heard Singh say the word “bomb.”
Shortly after the bus pulled out of Amarillo, two other men on the bus restrained Singh in his seat until police showed up. Officers dragged Singh and Chotri, who had also been recently released from an immigration holding center, off of the bus.
When I exited the bus, approximately 15 police officers stood outside with guns pointed at me. Police arrested and searched me, removed my religious turban, placed me in handcuffs, and placed me in a police vehicle,” said Singh.
A bomb squad was called to check the bus and a portion of Interstate 40 was closed down. Both men were detained in Amarillo and questioned by authorities for 30 hours before they were finally released after they were interviewed by the FBI. No charges were filed against either of them.
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 his complaint, Singh is asking Potter county attorney Scott Brumley to pursue criminal charges against Tianna DeCamp, the only person on the bus who had claimed to hear the word bomb, for making false accusations, and also against the two men who physically restrained him before police arrived.
According to the police report, DeCamp claimed that Singh and Chotri had “been acting strange since they left Phoenix … slowly moving towards the back of the bus, sometimes taking other people’s seats.”
It adds: “Once at the back of the bus the male subjects pulled out some envelopes and began opening them … the male subjects were talking on multiple cell phones in Arabic and during the conversations she stated she heard one of them say ‘bomb’ multiple times.”
Singh, whose turbanless mugshot was splashed all over local media, said he was traumatized and humiliated by the harrowing turn of events.
The Sikh community is very concerned about the dangers they face here in America. Sikhs are often mistaken for Muslims and because of the rising Islamaphobia in the United States, thanks in no small part to Donald Trump, Sikhs are facing more discrimination and violent assaults are becoming all too common.
Gurjot Kaur, senior staff attorney with the Sikh Coalition, which filed the complaint on Singh’s behalf said that reports of profiling and discrimination have increased twofold since the terror attacks in Paris and San Bernadino.
As long as hateful rhetoric rises to the top in our political discourse then incidents like this will continue,” said Kaur.
“We believe that you can’t just go around accusing people who look different to you,” Kaur said, explaining that false reports of potential terrorism are aren’t punished nearly as harshly as other types of bullshit claims that squander police resources. “There has to be a limit to ‘see something and say something’,” she said. “The ramifications [for Singh] were pretty severe.”
Featured image via ABC7
April has studied political science, psychology, and philosophy. Back in the good old days she was a reporter for “old fashioned” print newspapers. In addition to news and politics, she also blogs about service dogs and disability advocacy. As a black woman with a disability, she is fed up with the right-wingers who would prefer that she and others like her didn’t exist.