Sikh Man Assaulted on MTA Bus in Queens; Suspect Sought by Police

Richmond Hill, QUEENS -- Authorities are on the lookout for a man accused of assaulting a Sikh individual aboard an MTA bus in Queens this past Sunday.

According to police reports, the incident occurred at approximately 9 a.m. near 118th Street and Liberty Avenue in Richmond Hill. Both men were passengers on a shuttle bus when the suspect approached the 19-year-old victim.

Allegedly, the assailant verbally confronted the victim, stating, "We don't wear that in this country," in reference to the victim's turban. He proceeded to physically assault him, attempting to forcibly remove the turban.

Subsequently, the suspect exited the bus and fled the scene.

Community activist Japneet Singh expressed concern for the victim's well-being, remarking, "Right now, the victim is very traumatized. The family is very scared for him." While the victim declined immediate medical attention, Singh revealed that his injuries are significant enough to render him unable to work for the next few days.

Photographs of the suspect have been released by the police.

Given that South Richmond Hill is home to one of the city's largest Sikh communities, many residents are now grappling with the question of whether they could be potential targets.

Singh recounted a recent personal experience of mistaken identity, stating, "Just last week, they looked like college kids, they were running by and called out Hamas." He noted parallels to the post-9/11 era, where a surge in anti-Islamic sentiments extended to other communities as well.

Shanifah Rieara, MTA Acting Chief Customer Officer, expressed her own emotions upon viewing the video footage of the incident, saying, "I watched the video and I was angry, I was outraged, and just moved by what happened to the victim. New York City is a melting pot and it's from my understanding that this gentleman has only been here for about a year, and this is not how we welcome people to our city."

MTA officials are optimistic about apprehending the suspect, citing the extensive presence of surveillance cameras on buses and within the subway system.

The NYPD Hate Crimes Unit has taken charge of the investigation into this bus assault. At present, there is no apparent link to the conflict in Israel.

It's important to note that while the victim is Sikh and not Muslim, community members emphasize that this may not have been known to the assailant, nor may it be known to potential future assailants.