WASHINGTON — The Indian American Impact Project (“Impact Project”) condemned the recent attack of a Sikh American in Stanislaus County, California. According to a local report, 50-year old Surjit Malhi was attacked while putting up campaign signs in support of incumbent Republican Congressman Jeff Denham and other local Republican candidates.
While beating Malhi, the attackers yelled “Go back to your country!” and spray painted the same message, along with hate symbols, on his truck. Local police are investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.
Hate violence targeting the Indian American community, and the broader South Asian American community, has surpassed post-9/11 levels. Earlier this year, South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT) published a report documenting a 45% increase in hate violence and rhetoric against Indian, Sikh, and South Asian Americans from the year prior.
In a statement, the Impact Project’s Boards of Directors said:
“Every American deserves the freedom to live, work, and pray without fear — and to exercise our First Amendment rights to free speech and political participation. From xenophobic flyers targeting Indian and Asian American candidates last November to the recent racist slurs against Attorney General Gurbir Grewal of New Jersey, it’s clear that there are forces of hate who don’t just want us to ‘go home,’ they also want to keep us away from the ballot box and erase us from the halls of power.
“We strongly condemn this attack on Mr. Malhi and hope the police will quickly investigate the incident and prosecute it to the fullest extent possible under federal and state law. We also hope this incident will prompt communities like Stanislaus County to further educate their citizens about the Sikh faith and Sikh Americans, with an emphasis on the early Sikh immigrants who helped farm and build the Central Valley in the 19th century.
“Finally, we continue to urge lawmakers to stand up against xenophobic political rhetoric and support legislative efforts to combat hate violence and increase reporting of hate crimes.”