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This Press Release may be read online at: http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-24-09-2007-00.htm

Press Release: 24 th Sept 2007, 10th Assu (Samvat 539 Nanakshahi )

Grand Jury Indicts Schoolboy on 9 charges for Forcibly Cutting Sikh Schoolboy's Hair in NY

Queens, New York – A Grand Jury filed an indictment today against Umair Ahmed, a 17 year old schoolboy, for forcibly cutting a 15 year old Sikh schoolboy's hair, accusing him of 9 charges, including coercion and menacing as a hate crime and false imprisonment.  

Assistant District Attorney, Michael Brovner told UNITED SIKHS, “The indictment was filed today of all the original 5 charges and 4 additional charges as hate crimes. The defendant will be arraigned within the next few weeks.”    

UNITED SIKHS legal advisor, Tejinder Singh said, “A Grand Jury of 16 people believed the Sikh schoolboy and indicted the defendant not only of the original charges but also of 4 new charges. This case will now proceed to trial. Cutting a Sikh's unshorn hair, his article of faith, is the most grievous assault that can be inflicted on him.”  

At the request of the District Attorney's office, UNITED SIKHS had arranged for Dr Inder J Singh a, professor at New York University, to testify before the Grand Jury. Dr Inder J Singh, who has authored several books on Sikhism and who is also a UNITED SIKHS director, gave evidence on the religious significance of unshorn hair to Sikhs.

 “UNITED SIKHS has been appointed by the Sikh schoolboy and his family to represent him, since the incident took place in May. We assisted the Sikh schoolboy to obtain a transfer to another school after the original school said they could not guarantee his safety,” Tejinder Singh said.

 The Sikh schoolboy's mother, whose name is being withheld to protect his anonymity, has expressed to UNITED SIKHS her confidence in the criminal justice system and strong belief that justice will be served.

 According to the deposition of Detective Delvalle , on or about May 24th 2007 between 12.05 and 2.15 pm inside of 48-01 90th Street,  Newtown High School, County of Queens, State of New York,  A SINGH (the victim is a minor and his name is being withheld, in accordance to the protection afforded by the law), of the Sikh religion, who was wearing a Sikh religious headdress over his unshorn hair was approached by another student, Umair Ahmed who stated: “I have to cut your hair”. A Singh protested to Umair Ahmed saying cutting of his hair is against his religion. A Singh said that Umair Ahmed showed him a ring with Arabic inscriptions and said: “This ring is Allah, if you don't let me cut your hair I will punch you with this ring.” Umair Ahmed had a pair of scissors. A Singh was asked by Umair Ahmed to go to the bathroom. A SINGH refused to go to the bathroom with Umair Ahmed because he feared that the latter would hurt him with the scissors. Once inside the bathroom, Umair Ahmed said that if he (A Singh) does not remove his head covering he would punch A Singh with his ring. A Singh then removed his head covering under duress and pleaded to Umair Ahmed not to cut his hair. Umair Ahmed did cut A Singh's waist-length hair, which he had never cut since birth, with the said scissors, to the complainant's neckline. Umair Ahmed then threw the cut hair inside the toilet and on the floor. A Singh was in fear of physical injury, annoyance and alarm during this incident.

Umair Ahmed has been indicted with the following offences arising from the above-mentioned incident:

  1. Menacing in the second degree, as a hate crime ( 2 counts )
  2. Unlawful imprisonment in the second degree, as a hate crime ( 2 counts)
  3. Aggravated harassment in the second degree
  4. Criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree
  5. Harassment in the second degree
  6. Coercion in the second degree as a hate crime ( 2 counts)

 You may read a previous press release relating to this incident at http://www.unitedsikhs.org/PressReleases/PRSRLS-06-06-2007-00.htm

Issued by:
Mejindarpal Kaur
International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy
646 315 3909

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