Fellow international students and members of the Sikh community gathered Sunday morning near a Kelowna bus stop on Highway 97 to call for justice for an attack that occurred late Friday night.
At about 10:30 p.m. Friday, Gagandeep Singh was attacked by a group of people near Highway 97 and McCurdy Road after he got off a transit bus. He was treated for a wide range of injuries at Kelowna General Hospital.
“Everybody is feeling unsafe,” says friend Navsher Singh Sandhu. “He got pulled by his hair, all along the mud. They took his turban. That’s totally a hate crime.”
Gagandeep’s roommate Hartarn Singh says his parents back home in India are worried about his safety now.
“It could happen to anybody here. If we are not safe here then what can we do for our safety?" he said.
Kelowna city councillor Mohini Singh says she’s in complete shock that this could happen in this day and age in our community.
“This young man, he’s a student. He was just going home after buying a bag of groceries. To be swarmed and beaten like this is so, so wrong," she said.
“This is racism at its worst. It should be investigated as a hate crime. And the perpetrators need to be found and held accountable."
Kelowna RCMP spokesperson Const. Mike Della-Paolera said the assault is a "top priority" for local investigators, but he did not say if any suspects have been identified. No arrests have been made at this time.
He added that while police are currently investigating the case as an assault, that could change once the suspects are identified and investigators understand the full story.
Friends of Gagandeep have organized a GoFundMe page to help him with recovery costs. The international student has lived in Kelowna for a year.
"Kelowna is a welcoming and diverse community, filled with residents who are full of love and compassion," the page states. "Together we can show that there's no place for hate and violence in our community."
UPDATE: 11:50 a.m.
Police are investigating an assault of a 21-year-old man in Rutland Friday night.
In a press release issued Sunday morning, Kelowna RCMP spokesperson Const. Mike Della-Paolera says the assault is a top priority for investigators.
When officers responded to a report of an assault at a bus stop at Highway 97N and McCurdy Road Friday night at about 10:35 p.m., they found a man lying on the ground. His friends had already arrived to assist him.
"RCMP were told that a group of people were teasing the victim and when the victim exited the bus he was hit from behind and assaulted," Const. Della-Paolera said.
The victim, Gagandeep Singh, was taken to Kelowna General Hospital in an ambulance. Friends said he suffered injuries to his chest, mouth, arms and legs after he was punched and kicked by the group of people.
“The Kelowna RCMP take this very serious and are concerned that this type of crime has happened in our city," said Const. Della-Paolera. "This assault is the top priority for our investigators."
Police are reaching out to the public, seeking any witnesses or dashcam footage. Those who haven't spoken with police can contact the Kelowna RCMP at 250-762-3300 and reference file 2023-14407. Those looking to leave an anonymous tip can contact Central Okanagan Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or leave a tip online.
ORIGINAL: 4 a.m.
A 21-year-old Sikh man is recovering at home from injuries suffered in what has been described as a vicious assault Friday night in Kelowna.
Information received by Castanet News indicates the assault took place near a bus stop at the corner of McCurdy Road and Highway 97 at about 10:30 p.m. Friday.
The man reportedly received injuries to his chest, mouth, arms and legs after he was punched and kicked numerous times by a group of people.
He had his turban removed and was dragged on the ground by his hair.
The incident happened after an altercation between the man and the group on a city transit bus.
The man, an international student who has been in Kelowna about a year, was taken to Kelowna General Hospital for treatment before he was released to recover at home.
"I think this is absolutely horrendous. It's disgusting that an innocent man was assaulted and viciously beaten," said Kelowna city councillor Mohini Singh.
"This is not what Kelowna is about. We are better than this."