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Monday, October 30, 2006

Sikh cabbies fear for safety

Whether the motive is robbery or hate, Sikh taxi drivers at a safety forum in El Sobrante on Sunday reiterated long-standing complaints that they are frequent targets of crime in the greater Richmond area.

Officials -- whom drivers and their longtime advocate, Harpreet Sandhu of the Richmond Human Relations Commission, have accused of indifference -- said they are listening and ready to act, although their proposals still require approval and financing....

Sunday's forum came two weeks after Musharaf Poswal, 48, of Rodeo was shot and killed in Richmond, but Sandhu and the drivers have been vocal about safety since two earlier crimes in Richmond.

On July 2, 2003, Gurpreet Singh, 23, of Hercules was shot dead in his cab near 21st Street and Carlson Boulevard. On July 5, 2003, Inderjit Singh, 29, of El Sobrante was shot in the jaw on Roosevelt Avenue near 13th Street, where a dispatcher had sent him to pick up a fare.

Gurpreet Singh, no relation to Inderjit Singh, had money, jewelry and a laptop computer when he was found. Sandhu said he believes Gurpreet Singh was the victim of a hate crime.

Inderjit Singh's assailants never asked him for money, his brother said in 2003.

"They will shoot you if you have money and they will shoot you if you don't have money," said Harjit Bains, owner of a Richmond cab company.

Drivers at Sunday's forum said their job is risky because they carry cash and work alone at all hours and in high-crime areas. But Sikh drivers, as well as non-Sikhs who look South Asian or Middle Eastern, also get attacked because of their appearance -- even more so, they said, since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.[Link]

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