New York, July 28— Indian-American Muslims have strongly condemned the racial attack on a Hindu priest in New York. A group of Muslims associated with the Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC) met Swami Harish Chander Puri at his residence and wished him speedy recovery. They also vowed for justice to him. An American Hindu outfit ‘Sadhna’ the priest is said to be close to has wholeheartedly welcomed IAMC’s gesture.
The Muslim delegation had Azam Shaikh, Imran Pasha, Khalique Bandagi, Moizzuddin Ahmed, Syed Wajahat Ali and Muqeet Ahmed.
After the priest was assaulted by one Sergio Gouveia on way to temple earlier this month in New York, Indian-American Muslims had condemned the racial attack and sent him flowers as a solidarity gesture. As soon as the priest recovered and was ok to meet people, the Muslim delegation visited his home.
What had Happened with Hindu Priest?
According to a news report in Rediff.com, Swami Harish Chander Puri, 62, lives in Queens, New York. On July 18, around 11 am, he left the Shiv Shakti Peeth temple on 264th Street and Hillside Avenue in Glen Oaks, a few blocks from his residence. While he was walking, a local resident Sergio Gouveia, 52, came after him. Gouveia shouted, ‘This is my neighbourhood’ before repeatedly hitting Puri with his fists and an umbrella. Puri told Rediff.com that the man said nothing at all beyond ‘I’ll kill you.’ Puri does not remember how many times he was hit — or whether anything other than fists were at play. He said he only knew he was on the ground with blows raining down on him. Someone called the police. The police came in 2-3 minutes and dragged Gouveia off Puri. The priest gave all these details at a press conference on July 23.
New York Governor Orders Probe
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on July 23 directed the state police to investigate as a hate crime the July 18 attack on the Hindu priest.
“I am disgusted by the attack on a Hindu priest in Queens, mere blocks away from the Shiv Shakti Peeth temple,” Cuomo was quoted as saying by a news website Indicanews.com said. “This terrible, inexcusable act of violence is now being investigated as a potential hate crime.”
“Violence of any kind toward others based on their faith or race is offensive to all New Yorkers and repugnant to our values,” the governor added. “These hate-fueled acts are meant to incite fear and division within our communities, and we must stand together and disavow this behavior immediately.”
The police had arrested the attacker Sergio Gouveia on the spot.
Indian American Muslim Council Condemns Attack on Hindu Priest, Welcomes Governor’s Order
The Indian American Muslim Council (IAMC), an advocacy group dedicated to safeguarding India’s pluralist and tolerant ethos, has expressed unequivocal condemnation for the cowardly attack on Swami Harischander Puri.
“The fact that NYPD (New York Police Department) made a swift arrest in the case and that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has directed state authorities to help NYPD investigate it as a hate crime are welcome developments. Although the Swami has forgiven his attacker, the law must take its course, so that justice is served,” IAMC said in a press statement on July 23.
“The apparent hate attack on Swami Harish Chander Puri is reflective of the xenophobia and racism that is threatening our shared American values,” said IAMC President Ahsan Khan. “We call upon Indian Americans of all faiths, and indeed all people of conscience, to come together to combat bigotry in all its forms, whether it is in India or the United States,” added Khan.
A delegation of IAMC volunteers from NY/NJ area visited Swami Puri and wished him speedy recovery.
IAMC is said to be the largest advocacy organization of Indian Muslims in the United States with chapters across the nation.