“We condemn this incident and take all acts of violence in our community very seriously” – RCMP Inspector Rob Pikola
THE Kelowna RCMP on Tuesday said in a statement that they have augmented resources into their investigation in connection with the assault on a Sikh international student from India at a bus stop at about 10:30 p.m. on Friday, March 17 near Highway 97 and McCurdy Road.
The student, Gagandeep Singh, suffered injuries to his chest, mouth, arms and legs after he was attacked by a group of people after leaving the bus, according to a GoFundMe account that was set up to help the victim. One media report said that his turban was knocked off and he was dragged by his hair.
According to Kelowna media reports, a group that was teasing the victim struck him from behind and assaulted him when he got off a bus. He was treated by BC Ambulance and transported to hospital.
Members of the Kelowna RCMP General Investigation Services Team have taken conduct of the file. Investigators are currently conducting extensive video canvassing and continue to ask the public to provide any dash camera video from the area on March 17 between 10:15 p.m. and 10:45 p.m.
Kelowna RCMP said that investigators continue to remain in contact with the victim and have offered the support of Kelowna RCMP Victim Services. Partnering agencies in this investigation including BC Transit are cooperating with police in providing necessary evidence.
The statement said: “Kelowna RCMP said they have identified a suspect group, however, no arrests have been made. While the motivation for the assault, and the details surrounding it, are still being investigated by police, the BC Hate Crimes Team has been engaged to ensure that any hate elements, if any, are properly identified and investigated.”
Acting Officer in Charge of the Kelowna Regional RCMP Inspector Rob Pikola said: “It is imperative that we conduct our investigations methodically and thoroughly to obtain all available evidence. We condemn this incident and take all acts of violence in our community very seriously.”
A GoFundMe set up by a community member, Adam Wilson, and a student, Aman Hundal, raised more than $22,000 by Tuesday and had stopped accepting any more donations.
Gagandeep Singh said in a message on the GoFundMe page:
“The last few days have been very difficult for me. I am at home resting and recovering from the attack.
“I really appreciate the support across Canada from everyone. The comments in the GoFundMe page and the outpouring of support has reminded me of why I came to Canada.
“Thank you for your donations over the last two days, they are above and beyond what I ever imagined.
Kelowna City Councillor Mohini Singh condemned the racist attack and demanded that it be investigated as a hate crime.
The GoFundMe had noted: “As an international student who has only been in Kelowna for a year, he needs the community’s help. Even with a strong support system, he won’t be able to work, and as an international student will have medical bills, rent, tuition and more.”
It added: “Kelowna is a welcoming and diverse community, filled with residents who are full of love and compassion. Together we can show that there’s no place for hate and violence in our community.
“With your support, we can help ensure that during Gagandeep’s road to recovery, he doesn’t need to worry about where the money will come from to pay for physio, food, rent or even to have his parents fly to Kelowna from India to see him.”
On Monday, Conservative MP Dan Albas (Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola) condemned “this cowardly race based attack” in Parliament. He tweeted: “Racism, hate and violence have no place in our communities.”
Fundraiser for Indian international student following violent racist attack. What are Kelowna RCMP doing?