Washington: An elderly Sikh man, in his early 70s, was allegedly beaten up by his neighbour in New Jersey following an altercation and was later arrested by the police because of keeping 'Kirpan', a Sikh article of faith.
The incident happened on July 26, nearly 10 days before the shooting at Oak Creek Gurdwara in Wisconsin, United Sikhs, a Sikh advocacy group said on Thursday.
Giving details of the incident, the group said that Avtar Singh, a gas station owner and one of the founding members of Glen Rock Gurdwara in New Jersey, went to his neighbouring shop owned by Edward Koscovski to request him to move his truck that was parked and blocking the entrance of his gas station.
The request turned into an altercation in which Avtar Singh was brutally assaulted, it said.
"I kept on yelling that please let me go but nothing moved Edward from hitting me. When I turned around using all my strength, Edward smashed my face, broke my teeth and kept punching me in the stomach. He grabbed my Kirpan and threw it at his attendant.
"The attendant removed the Kirpan from the mian (cover) and hid the mian (cover) in a room inside. He also snatched my phone and put it out of sight," Avtar Singh said.
Upon arrival at the scene, the police arrested the 72-year -old Avtar Singh and charged him with possession of a weapon (Kirpan), United Sikhs said.
He was interrogated before anyone attended to his injuries and then taken to the hospital and was handcuffed to the hospital bed during his stay at the hospital. Singh was then taken to the police station and jailed till his family members filed his bail application, it said.
United Sikhs said that it contacted the Civil Rights Division and the Community Relations Service Division in the US Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), as well as the State of New Jersey Attorney General's office for investigation and is following up on Avtar Singh's case to be heard next Thursday.