A 21-year-old international student is recovering following what is being described as a racially motivated attack at a bus stop in Kelowna, B.C.
According to city councillor Mohini Singh, it happened at the corner of McCurdy Road and Highway 97 around 10:30 p.m. on Friday.
“He boarded bus 97 which was heading north towards Rutland. There was a group of approximately 12 to 15 young people (male and female) on the bus who were creating a ruckus and throwing a wig around,” Singh said in a news release.
A member of the group threw the wig at the victim, Gagandeep Singh, who asked them to stop, the councillor said. “When they didn’t he threatened to call the RCMP.”
Friend Navsher Sandhu said the bus driver warned the group to settle down as well.
“They didn’t listen to him either,” said Sandhu.
According to Gagandeep’s friends, he got off the bus and was followed by the group of people, who began attacking him.
He suffered injuries to his chest, mouth, arms and legs after being kicked and punched a number of times, Coun. Singh said, adding his turban was removed and he was dragged on the ground by his hair.
He was finally able to call his friend when the attackers left, Singh added, and was taken to hospital.
“(Gagandeep) is at home barely able to move. He is so shaken up he is afraid to face the camera or speak to anyone.”
Kelowna lawyer Bal Grewal told Global News that Gagandeep was targeted because of his race.
“He has a turban. He has full facial hair. The turban was ripped off, and the hair was pulled off,” Grewal said.
“The turban itself — we have not been able to locate it, it was taken.”
Singh said this kind of racism is unacceptable.
“This is absolutely disgusting and a horrible attack on an innocent person. This is not what we will accept in Kelowna. It is so, so wrong.”
On Sunday, Kelowna RCMP issued a news release saying officers had received a report that a man had been assaulted at the bus stop near McCurdy Road, and that officers had found the victim laying on the ground, with some of his friends already there trying to help.
“The Kelowna RCMP take this very serious and are concerned that this type of crime has happened in our city. This assault is the top priority for our investigators,” Const. Mike Della-Paolera said.
Anyone with information can contact RCMP or Central Okanagan Crime Stoppers.
Editor’s note: This is a corrected story. A previous version misspelled the name of Bal Grewal.
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