Unprovoked attack on 89-year-old Sikh man in Calgary is hate-related, says MP Deepak Obhrai

Deepak Obhrai and Suritam Rai (L) address the media in Calgary on Friday.

ON March 16, at approximately 1:15 p.m., 89-year-old Harjit Singh Rai was attacked in the parking lot at 5401 Temple Dr NE in Calgary in an unprovoked assault, Calgary MP Deepak Obhrai told the media on Friday.

“Mr. Harjit Singh Rai was pushed repeatedly until he fell to the ground. The fall caused injury to Mr. Rai and also knocked his turban from his head. Mr. Rai was then taken to the hospital where his injuries were treated and he is now recuperating at home,” said Obhrai.

The assailant has been arrested because of the quick response of the Calgary police, he added.

Suritam Rai, the victim’s son, said:  “After deep reflection the family has concluded my father was attacked because he was Sikh.”

That conclusion is based on the facts that his father has never known the assailant; there was no apparent issue in the parking lot; no one else was attacked; and Rai was wearing a turban and as such is a visible minority.

Obhrai said he has known Rai, a local businessman and a respected citizen, for many years. His work has garnered numerous awards in the province of Alberta.

Obhrai said: “It is very sad and disappointing that a respected man like Mr. Rai was attacked because he is a Sikh. This incident shows that intolerance and hate ideology is prevalent and is present in our city and community. All hate crimes must be exposed and highlighted, so we can address this issue.”

He noted: “Sikhs have been an integral part of Canada’s history, as well as strong contributors to our society and economy.”

Obhrai said he condemns this act of violence and all forms of hate towards any community, and that like all Canadians, the Sikhs deserve full respect.