rucha – UNITED SIKHS Blog Recognize The Human Race As One Tue, 28 Nov 2017 14:31:07 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Brutal beating of a 72 year old Sikh man in NJ, followed by arrest for keeping Kirpan, an article of Sikh faith Fri, 24 Aug 2012 04:47:15 +0000
Aug 23rd, 2012
8th Bhadon (Samvat 543 Nanakshahi)
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Press Release
Brutal beating of a 72 year old Sikh man in NJ, followed by arrest for keeping Kirpan, an article of Sikh faithPaterson, New Jersey: 72 year old Avtar Singh, a gas station owner and one of the founding members of Glen Rock Gurdwara in New Jersey, was brutally beaten by his neighbor, Edward Koscovski, who owns a car business in Paterson (New Jersey) and shares a common driveway with Avtar Singh.

Bhai Avtar Singh, 72 year old man, founding member of the Glenrock Gurdwara in New Jersey Site where the incident took place in Paterson, New Jersey

On July 26th, Avtar Singh Ji went to Edward Koscovski’s shop to request him to move his truck that was parked and blocking the entrance of Avtar Singh’s gas station. The request turned into an altercation in which Avtar Singh Ji was brutally assaulted. “I kept on yelling that please let me go but nothing moved Edward from hitting me. When I turned around using all my strength, Edward smashed my face, broke my teeth and kept punching me in the stomach. He grabbed my Kirpan and threw it at his attendant. The attendant removed the Kirpan from the mian (cover) and hid the mian (cover) in a room inside. He also snatched my phone and put it out of sight” said Avtar Singh, who suffered injuries to his face and stomach.

Upon arrival at the scene, the police arrested the 72 year old Avtar Singh and charged him with posession of a weapon  (Kirpan). He was questioned before anyone attended to his injuries and then taken to the hospital and was handcuffed to the hospital bed during his stay at the hospital. He was then taken to the police station and jailed till his family members filed his bail application.

The Kirpan is one of the five K’s – Kesh (uncut hair covered by turban), Kangha (wooden comb), Kara (metal bracelet) , Kachera (specific cotton undergarment) and Kirpan (small dagger) – that is carried by initiated Sikhs at all times.

UNITED SIKHS has contacted the Civil Rights Division and the Community Relations Service Division in the United States Department of Justice, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), as well as the State of New Jersey Attorney General’s office for investigation and is following up on Avtar Singh’s case to be heard next Thursday. UNITED SIKHS will also follow up with the Paterson police regarding the questionable behavior of the police officer who arrested Avtar Singh.

Although this incident occurred prior to the Wisconsin tragedy, it reinforces the lack of cultural sensitivity training within law enforcement agencies, especially regarding the Sikh Kakkars/articles of faith. The five K’s – Kesh (uncut hair covered by turban), Kangha (wooden comb), Kara (metal bracelet) , Kachera (specific cotton undergarment) and Kirpan (small dagger) are carried by initiated Sikhs at all times.

UNITED SIKHS will continue to assist Avtar Singh on his right to practice his faith and carry the Kirpan.

UNITED SIKHS also asks all Sikhs to practice their faith fearlessly and report any racially biased incidents to them. If you feel you have been a target of a bias based crime/ incident, please report it here

Please continue to support our work by making your tax deductible donation today by clicking here .

To speak to a UNITED SIKHS representative directly, please visit
to find an office near you.


Issued By:
Manvinder Singh, Director
International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy
Tel: 1-646-688-3525;1-888-243-1690

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UNITED SIKHS as always asks you to practise your faith freely and without any fear.You can contact UNITED SIKHS at a location near you at the URL-



To transform underprivileged and minority communities and individuals into informed and vibrant members of society through civic, educational and personal development programs, by fostering active participation in social and economic activity.

UNITED SIKHS is also an avenue for networking between like-minded organisations to establish and nurture meaningful projects and dialogues – whether social, cultural or political- to promote harmony, understanding and reciprocity in our villages, towns and cities.

UNITED SIKHS is a coalition of organisations and individuals, who share a common vision based on the belief that there is no greater endeavour than to serve, empower and uplift fellow beings. The core of our philosophy is an unwavering commitment to civic service and social progress on behalf of the common good.

Accordingly, UNITED SIKHS has sought to fulfil its mission not only by informing, educating and uplifting fellow beings but also by participating in cross-cultural and political exchanges to ensure that the promises and benefits of democracy are realized by all.

We at UNITED SIKHS believe that the development of enlightened and progressive societies can be made possible by socially conscious groups of people who make a commitment to develop and direct human potential. Our work, efforts and achievements stand as a testament to our faith in this vision.



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Gurdwara Dashmesh Darbar hosts Blood Drive; Community Members respond to crucial need Tue, 07 Jun 2011 18:34:26 +0000 Marking the anniversary of the 1984 attacks on Harmandir Sahib (the Golden Temple) in Amritsar, the sangat of Gurdwara Dashmesh Darbar in Port Reading, NJ and UNITED SIKHS hosted the annual blood drive, where dozens of community members participated and generously donated. Central Jersey Blood Services partnered with us on this important endeavor.

According to the American Red Cross, in the United States alone, someone needs blood every two seconds, and over 38,000 donations are needed every day. Blood supplies are vital in case of accidents, sickle cell anemia and cancer among others, and cannot be manufactured. Only 38% people in the United States are eligible to donate, which makes contributions on a regular basis very important.

UNITED SIKHS has been consistently conducting blood drives in different communities to respond to this vital and crucial need of people all over the world. A big shout out to those who donated blood at the drive and those who perform this sewa on a regular basis.

For more information on Blood Drives or other UNITED SIKHS Community Service initiatives, visit us at

We cannot undertake such important projects without the support of generous community members like you. Please volunteer or donate today!

The blood donation van outside Gurdwara Dashmesh Darbar Blood donation in progress Sewadaar donating blood The team from Central Jersey Blood Services Inside the Blood Donation van

Interfaith Group Calls on Governor Cuomo to end NYS participation in Secure Communities Fri, 13 May 2011 17:43:44 +0000 Members of New York’s faith communities, immigrant advocates and community members were brought together by NYS Interfaith Network for Immigration Reform and the New Sanctuary Coalition of New York on Wednesday, May 11 2011, to send a loud and clear message to Governor Cuomo: New York must join Illinois in doing the right thing and end the state’s participation in Secure Communities, or S-Comm. UNITED SIKHS Legal Fellow Ilana Ofgang spoke at the conference, emphasizing the need to have policies that increase security without racial or religious profiling of immigrant communities.

Watch Ilana speak at the Press Conference!

According to the National Immigration Forum, “Secure Communities is a program that allows state and local police to check the fingerprints of an individual they are booking into a jail against Department of Homeland Security (DHS) immigration databases. If there is a “hit” in an immigration database, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is automatically notified, even if the person has not been convicted of any criminal act.” More information about S-Comm is available here.

Members of different faith groups spoke about how S-Comm has affected their own faith communities, and speakers included:

·         Rev. Fabian Arias, Minister of Zion Lutheran Church and co-chair of the New Sanctuary Movement

·         Sunita Patel, Center for Constitutional Rights

·         Rabbi Michael Feinberg, E.D., Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition

·         Adem Carroll, Director, Muslim Progressive-Traditional Alliance

·         Minister Pat Malcolm, Secretary of Churches United to Save and Heal or CUSH

·         Lisa Sharon Harper, Executive Director and co-founder of New York Faith and Justice

The press conference concluded with a Candle Lighting Ceremony and prayers from different faith traditions.

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Review Your Risk for Diabetes; Join Us for a Healthy Cooking Demonstration Wed, 23 Mar 2011 18:24:32 +0000 Review your risk for developing diabetes and take steps to lower it.

How high is your risk? Take this short simple assessment by the American Diabetes Association available here.

Reduce your risk by following these simple steps:

  • Exercise regularly and/or increase physical activity: Be active for 30 minutes a day at least 5 days a week.
  • Eat a healthy diet, reduce fat and calorie intake
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Get regular health screenings
  • Manage stress

Diabetes Alert Day was on March 22, 2011, so join us for a healthy cooking demonstration! Remake popular snacks that are low in fat, low in calories and high in fiber.

Date: Friday, March 25, 2011

Time: 4 pm to 8 pm

Venue: Sikh Cultural Society, Inc. 95-30 118 street , Richmond Hill, NY 11419.

Contact the UNITED SIKHS Community Health Worker, Rucha Kavathe, for more information on wellness, nutrition, stress relief, and prevention of diabetes at

UNITED SIKHS is a community partner on Project RICE, a 5 year community driven research initiative to promote diabetes prevention among Asian Americans in New York City through the work of community health workers.

Project RICE is the core research project of the New York University Health Promotion and Prevention Research Center, and is funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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Make your voices heard, your opinion counts! Complete the 2010 Global Sikh Civil Rights Survey! Thu, 11 Nov 2010 16:10:48 +0000 Every year since 2008, UNITED SIKHS compiles a report where a community across borders voices their opinions on the current practices, future policies and the overall state of human and civil rights of Sikhs in their respective countries. The report combines insights from human rights reports with original survey data collected from Sikhs worldwide, and is put together by a team of lawyers, activists, academics and civil rights experts.

Over the past 2 years, the report has provided a one of a kind insight into the concerns and challenges of the global Sikh community to UN agencies, government bodies, Sikh and non-Sikh civil rights organizations, litigators, non-profit organizations and many more.

Now is your chance to participate and make your voice heard! Click on the link below and complete the 2010 Global Sikh Civil Rights Survey.

The 2008 Global Civil Rights Report had provided a first-of-its-kind insight into the needs and challenges of the global Sikh community. In addition to country essays, the 2009 report incorporates data from the Global Sikh Civil Rights Survey administered in 17 countries with over 300 respondents. Sikhs around the world weighed in on issues of hate crimes, xenophobia, current policies and practices toward minority communities, and the particular challenges of the Sikh community.

Forward the link to friends and family who may be interested in participating. The more people complete the questionnaire, the stronger we can advocate for our rights in the global community.

For a copy of the 2009 report, click here.

For questions or concerns, contact Ilana Ofgang at

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Join Us for An Ounce of Prevention: UNITED SIKHS launches Diabetes Prevention and Healthy Living Classes Wed, 27 Oct 2010 16:54:12 +0000 If the current trends of lifestyle continue, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) predicts that the rate of diabetes in United States may double or triple by 2050! Which means, by 2050, a third of Americans will be affected by this disease.

Live in NYC? According to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, nearly 500,000 individuals are diagnosed with diabetes in the city. That makes it 1 in every 8 people!!

However, current knowledge about diabetes and its risks, the right attitude and community support can go a long way in helping you get on the path to healthy living!

As part of our growing health initiatives, UNITED SIKHS is conducting Diabetes Education classes for the community in Richmond Hill, NY. The “Yes You Can Defy Diabetes” program focuses on providing tools that will assist in understanding and managing diabetes for people who have or know someone who has diabetes.

Join us for 1 hr a week for 6 weeks to learn about healthy living with information and practical suggestions that make sense for us and our community. You can also assess your risk for diabetes, learn how to reduce your risk and make some simple lifestyle changes so you and your loved ones can live healthier lives!

The “Yes You Can Defy Diabetes” program is conducted in partnership with the Institute for Leadership and supported by the New York State Diabetes Campaign, the New York State Health Foundation, and Faith Fights Diabetes.

Classes start: October 31, 2010

Time: 11:00 am – 12:00 pm

Location: Baba Makhan Shah Lubana Sikh Center, Inc, Richmond Hill, NY

To enroll for the classes, call or email Rucha Kavathe at 1-888-243-1690 or

To read about CDC’s report on diabetes, please click here:

Sikhs represented at National Community Committee in Seattle, WA Thu, 21 Oct 2010 18:37:25 +0000 From October 10 to 13 2010, I attended the Annual Meeting of the National Community Conference (NCC) in Seattle, WA. The National Community Conference is one of the seven sub-committees that guides the Prevention Research Center (PRC) program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); these centers conduct research on chronic disease prevention and management. The meeting was attended by representatives from 37 Prevention Research Centers across the country.

With other participants from all over the country

I attended the meeting as a community representative of the Health Promotion and Prevention Research Center at the New York University School of Medicine (NYU PRC), where UNITED SIKHS is one of the three community partners on a diabetes prevention and management project in the South Asian and Korean communities. Incidentally, the NYU PRC is one of the few that conducts research on South Asian communities and I was the only South Asian participant in attendance.

NCC representatives share information on how communities are best served through community based participatory research, where communities and researchers are equal partners in the research and dissemination process. Additionally, NCC also advocates to build capacity and sustainability within communities where research is undertaken so their ongoing needs in the area are addressed.

As an organization, UNITED SIKHS sees this as an opportunity to advocate nationally for health concerns of not only the Sikh community, but also the South Asian communities [at large] and bring those voices to discussions on how marginalized and disadvantaged communities [can] have the best possible access to health information and services.

UNITED SIKHS is adding new programs with a health focus and with opportunities to intern and/or volunteer with the programs. If you are interested in participating in these programs, please contact me, Rucha Kavathe, at