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Sikhs Rejoice as Hate Crime Charge Added to Brutal Chicago Attack

The addition of hate crime charge to the case of assault on a Chicago Sikh taxi driver confirms the racism angle.

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It was a victorious day for the Sikh Coalition and Inderjit Singh Mukker when they received the news that the DuPage State Attorney Office in Chicago, Illinois, had added a count of hate crime against the teenager who struck Mukker in the face, injuring him so badly that he was hospitalised last week.

Disappointed that the 17-year-old teenager was initially only charged with aggravated battery, the Sikh Coalition spent two hours on September 15 in a meeting with State Attorney Robert Berlin, requesting that he add the charge because “hatred was the primary reason” for the attack on Mukker.

The decision came in the form of a press release from Berlin, just hours before the Sikh Coalition‘s planned rally and press conference, during which they hoped to appeal to the public to support their petition for the hate crime charge.

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‘End to Hate Crimes’

“Crimes based on hatred or prejudices have no place in our society,” said Paul Darrah, a spokesperson for the state attorney’s office. “Any physical attack on another individual based on race, religion, ethnic origin or sexual orientation is a crime not only against the victim but against society.”

The rally went forward with 100 attendees who came to support the victim and to call for an end to hate crimes.

Mukker, 53, an Uber driver and an Indian immigrant from Ferozepur, who has been in the United States for twenty seven years now, spoke at the rally, a few miles away from the very spot he was viciously attacked by the teen who taunted him with cries of “Bin Laden” and “go back to your own country.”

“This is my country,” Mukker said. “This is my home. I am an American.”

“I’m a proud husband and father and I want my family to be free in who they are and what they believe”

Inderjit Singh Mukker

And he poignantly added that he wants his wife Kushdeep Kaur, 52, a home maker, his daughter Baljot Kaur, 24, a nursing student and son Kanwar Singh Mukker, 20, a technology student at the University of Illinois -- to be safe.

The addition of hate crime charge to the case of assault on a Chicago Sikh taxi driver confirms the racism angle.

American Dream Shattered

For the devout close-knit Sikh family, the American dream did come true but Kanwar adds that it has a dark side.

“We are targets with our beards and turbans. And our brown skins. We are judged and discriminated against. We want all to be aware,” he said.

Harsimran Kaur, his attorney who championed hard for Mukker said that attacking Sikhs for their beard, turban and faith is a dangerous trend which began after 9/11.

“But I am happy to see an outpouring of support worldwide. The compassion and kindness are good to see”, Kaur said.

“We hope that prosecution of this incident as a hate crime will prove to be a deterrent in the future”

Harsimran Kaur, Mukker’s Attorney and Legal Director for the Sikh Coalition

There is little information available about the juvenile, who is in the hospital and because of his age, his records are sealed.

(Sonia Chopra is a freelance journalist based in the US.)

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