A Sikh-owned restaurant named ‘Indian Palace’ in Santa Fe city, in New Mexico state of the US, was vandalized on Monday allegedly by a white supremacist group. Restaurant owner Baljit Singh said that they had suffered damages worth $100,000 (Rs.75.6 lakh). Vandals left slogans like “white power,” “Trump 2020”, “F**K ISIS,” and “go home” on the walls. The reports say that local police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are investigating the case.
Sante Fe Reporter, a local daily, reported that vandals overturned the tables, destroyed the front desk area and kitchen of the restaurant. The police found piles of broken glassware across the restaurant. The wine racks were emptied and a statue of the goddess in the restaurant was beheaded. They took away the restaurant’s computers as well.
Singh said, “I walked into the kitchen, I saw everything and I was like, hold on, what? What is going on here?” The restaurant was closed for some time due to Covid-19 restrictions and Singh re-opened it recently.
A non-profit civil rights organization, the Sikh American Legal Defence and Education Fund (SALDEF) issued a statement in which they condemned the incident. Simran Singh, the SALDEF board member, said, “Santa Fe is a peaceful town, and the Sikh community has lived here, beautifully integrated, since the ’60s.” Kiran Kaur Gill, executive director SALDEF, said that such incidents of hate and violence are unacceptable.
Possible case of mistaken identity
Some of the graffiti against terrorist organization Islamic State on the restaurant walls suggest that it might be mistaken identity. This is not the first time Sikhs have been mistaken for Islamists or Iranians because of their turbans. On 29th April, a Sikh American Lakhwant Singh was brutally attacked in Lakewood, Colorado. He was told to go back to his country during the attack. A formal hate crime case was not registered in that incident. Many such incidents took place after the 9/11 terror attack in the US in which Sikhs were assaulted.
Support from the community
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham issued a statement condemning the incident. In a tweet, she said, “We will not stand for such hatred in New Mexico.” She added that she had spoken to Baljit Singh to “let him know that our community is with him.”
I am absolutely heartbroken and disgusted by this racist attack. I spoke to Mr. Singh this morning and let him know that our community is with him. We will not stand for such hatred in New Mexico.https://t.co/GXafrZcGW7— Michelle Lujan Grisham (@GovMLG) June 23, 2020
Mayor Alan Webber called it a “sickening and appalling” hate crime. He assured strict actions against the culprits as per the law. He added, “The Singhs are a long-standing Sikh family that has used its resources to feed homeless Santa Feans through the goodness of their hearts. For them to be attacked this way breaks our hearts.” As per the reports, multiple fundraiser campaigns were started to help the restaurant.