Harkirat Singh
Harkirat Singh, a Sikh taxi driver, was assaulted, called names and robbed of his religious turban in the Bronx while trying to collect a fare. Credit: New York Daily News

NEW YORK (Diya TV) — A drunken passenger assaulted a Sikh taxi driver in the Bronx and ripped the turban off his head. NYPD is investigating the incident as a possible hate crime.

Harkirat Singh said the theft of his article of faith, was the culmination of a scary encounter early Sunday with a belligerent passenger and his three buddies that has made him too scared to drive another night shift.

“I’m so afraid. I don’t want to work,” Singh said in an interview from his Queens home with the New York Daily News. “It’s an insult on my religion, also. An insult of my faith. It’s horrible.”

An immigrant from Punjab, India Singh arrived in the U.S. just three years ago.According to Singh, he picked up the fare of three men and a woman – all in their 20s – around 5 a.m. at the corner of Eighth Ave. and 30th St., a few blocks south of Madison Square Garden. The group told Singh they wanted to go to the Bronx, when his yellow taxi reached its destination, the passengers complained that Singh took them to the wrong location — but the passengers couldn’t give Singh a straight answer about where to go next, he said.

“The girl’s saying, ‘Take the right.’ The Spanish guy’s saying, ‘Take the left.’ So, at that time, I was confused,” Singh said. They began hurling slurs and banging on the plastic partition in his cab, he said.

“They’re using bad words, also. They said, ‘Ali Baba, f–k you,’” he said.

He pulled over and told the group to pay $41.76 and to find another cab. The woman coughed up the cash after Singh called 911 — but then one of the men got back into the cab. Singh said the man who got back into the cab tried to smash the meter. Then he punched Singh in the arm, he said.

“After that, he picked off my turban from my head,” he said. “He wanted to snatch my phone also…It was too horrible.”

Harkirat Singh
An image taken by Harkirat Singh of assailants who stole his turban. Credit: New York Daily News

The group of passengers made off with the turban Singh had been wearing since the age of six. The incident took place, just hours after thousands of Sikhs flocked to Times Square for the annual celebration of Vaisakhi. Singh did not require medical attention but filed a report with police. He was able to snap a photo of two of the passengers.