India has strongly condemned an assault on an Sikh high school student at a bus stop in Canada's British Columbia province on Monday, believed to be a hate crime. The Sikh student was allegedly "kicked, punched and pepper-sprayed" in Kelowna at the intersection of Rutland Road South and Robson Road East.
"@cgivancouver strongly condemns assault on an Indian national in Kelowna and requests Canadian authorities to investigate the incident and take prompt action against the perpetrators," said the Consulate-General of India in Vancouver.
Meanwhile, one man has been arrested who was involved in the assault as well as a prior altercation on a bus. "Just prior to the bear spray incident, there was an altercation on the bus resulting in those involved being directed off of the bus. After exiting the bus, a second incident occurred where the suspect male deployed bear spray on the victim," said the Kelowna Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in a statement on Monday.
In a statement after the man's arrest, the RCMP said that there was no doubt that the victim was bear-sprayed and assaulted by the accused. Video analayis and review of additional evidence will be conducted to determine what happened during the assault.
Reaction of World Sikh Organisation
The World Sikh Organisation of Canada has alleged that the student was also assaulted while aboard the vehicle. "Monday’s attack on a Sikh high school student in Kelowna is shocking and unacceptable," Guntaas Kaur, WSO vice president for British Columbia was quoted as saying.
In a statement, the WSO said that the student was a newcomer to Canada and was now afraid of returning to the school or take public transit, adding that he could not understand why he was attacked in this way.
"He is absolutely traumatised. He's in a state of shock... The Indo-Canadian community is shocked by this... this is absolutely despicable," said Kelowna City Councillor Mohini Singh to CBC News, adding that he knew very little English.
Earlier attacks on Sikh students
On March 17, a 21-year-old Sikh student from India identified as Gagandeep Singh was attacked in Canada after a few unidentified people ripped off his turban and dragged him on the road using his hair in British Columbia province.
Narrating the attack, the councillor said that Gagandeep was returning home in a bus after grocery shopping when he encountered a group of between 12 and 15 other young people. It was St. Patrick's Day and Mohini Singh says a rowdy group was on the bus, throwing a wig around.
"They got off after him, waited for the bus to leave and then they swarmed him, they beat him in his face, in his ribs, arms, and legs and then proceeded to grab his turban, pull his hair and drag him," Mohini Singh said.
(with agency input)