WEST HARLEM — A Columbia University professor who penned a New York Times piece last year on hate crimes against American Sikhs was viciously attacked by an epithet-spewing mob on bicycles Saturday night, police said.
Prabhjot Singh, 31, had just dropped off his wife and 1 year old child at their Harlem apartment and was walking with a friend on 110th Street near Lenox Avenue around 8:15 p.m. when a group of young men on bikes approached him, he says. The group apparently believed he was Muslim, and began to attack him, he said.
"I was passing a group of young men...and I heard 'get him,' 'Osama;' I heard 'terrorist,'" Singh said during a Monday morning press conference at Columbia, "And then I felt somebody grab my beard while on a bike, [and] hit my chin."
Singh, who wears a full beard and turban in accordance with his Sikh religious beliefs, was thrown to the ground, he said.
Three bystanders then intervened and were able to stop the attack, Singh said.
"I think that the bystanders...had a critical role to play," said Singh. "I couldn't possibly, wouldn't guess what would have happened, but I certainly felt some degree of peace that I may [have been] unconscious within seconds and I wasn't. I'm sure they had role to play in that."
He added that one of the people who came to his rescue was an elderly man who told the group to "get lost."
Singh, an assistant professor at the university’s School of International and Public Affairs, underwent surgery at Mt. Sinai Hospital for a broken jaw, which was then wired by an oral surgeon, he said.
He was also treated for displaced teeth and severe bruising and swelling of the body, according to the Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund.
The NYPD’s Hate Crime Task Force is investigating the assault, police said. No arrests have been made.