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Sikh leaders have reacted with anger at an attack against a Sikh student at Richmond Hill High School and what they say has been a lack of action against such acts by school officials.
"Fed up," said Amardeep Singh, executive director of the Sikh Coalition, at a news conference at the Tweed Courthouse in downtown Manhattan June 6. "Fed up is the only way I can describe how we feel. How many more calls from distressed Sikh parents because the schools can't do their job? This is inexcusable."
The reference was to Jagmohan Singh Premi, a student at Richmond Hill High School. He said that on June 3, he was struck in the face by another student who tried to snatch away his "patka," a smaller version of the traditional Sikh turban.
Premi related the incident at the news conference, explaining that his assailant managed to partially untie his patka.
Premi said that as he tried to secure the headgear, his assailant held a key between his knuckles and punched him in the face, inflicting a bruise and "possible orbital [eye socket] fracture," according to a physician he consulted.
Premi said the teacher was in the schoolroom during the incident.
Singh said "his [Premi's] tormenter has a long history of harassing him [Premi] at school."
Sikh officials said the city Department of Education, following a meeting with Sikh Coalition leaders, reported it had begun an investigation into the matter.
Sikh leaders asked police to look into the incident as a hate crime.
"I am sad this has happened in America," Premi said at the news conference. "I need my school to protect me."
Schools Chancellor Joel Klein personally apologized to Premi about the incident Friday.
"I made it clear that this is a priority," Klein said, "that we don't tolerate harassment in our classes."
But Sikh leaders said the DOE should keep records of bullying and harassment because it keeps recurring.
Umair Ahmad, 18, was sentenced to 180 hours of community service and counseling June 5 on conviction of hate crimes in an incident in which he forcibly cut off the hair of a Sikh fellow student at Newtown High School.
©2008 Community Newspaper Group
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