Rajinder Singh Khalsa lay on the ground praying to God as the next man’s foot exploded into his face, opening another wound. Silently, he pleaded for the punches and kicks to stop, for the pain to end. The five men beat him viciously outside of Villa Russo’s Restaurant in Richmond Hill because of the turban on his head. He suffered a nose fracture, temporary loss of vision in his left eye, and was left on the ground unconscious.
July 11 marked the anniversary of the date that Khalsa, now 51, endured the racially motivated beating. It is now two years later, and the five men were all dealt prison sentences, ranging from five days to two years. Three of the men were also ordered to serve community service with the Sikh temple.
“I requested the judge to give them a little less punishment and give them community service,” Khalsa said a Sunday gathering in Richmond Hill’s Gurudwara Ramgharia Sikh Society of America temple. “They should come and serve in the Sikh temple. They should be educated about the Sikh religion, and know why we wear this turban. This turban is a sign of respect. I feel when they come with us and serve, they will feel the blessing of God. When we pray for us, we pray for all, especially those boys.”
Khalsa, meanwhile, has carried on with his life. His vision is still poor and he frequently suffers from neck pains. Through his faith in Sikhism and support from the community, he has been able to maintain his spirit.
“I am healing better than other people because we do yoga,” he said. “All the Sikh people are devoted to me. When I was recovering (after the beating), it was raining. There was a big line in front of my home because people wanted to see me. The Channel Fox 5 television crew was there, and they were showing that line in the rain. The community was praying for me.”
Last year at this time, Khalsa announced that he filed a civil suit against his attackers, making him the first Sikh hate crime victim to do so. On Saturday, Khalsa was contacted by Allstate Insurance, which had been providing homeowners’ insurance to three of the men. Allstate informed Khalsa that they would not cover the suit because the men engaged in an intentional violent act of crime.
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