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'Absolutely disgusting': B.C. councillor speaks out after Sikh international student swarmed, beaten


An international student was swarmed and beaten by a group of people who ripped off his turban and dragged him across the sidewalk by his hair in Kelowna, B.C., Friday evening, according to a local politician.

Coun. Mohini Singh says she heard of the attack shortly after it happened Friday night, and went to visit 21-year-old Gagandeep Singh, who is from India, and not related to the councillor, at his home.

"I was horrified when I saw him. He could only speak in soft tones and he couldn't open his mouth,"' she told CTV News, saying the young man's eyes were swollen shut and that he was obviously in significant pain.

The councillor says she was told that Gagandeep was heading home around 10: 30 p.m. after grocery shopping when he encountered a group of between 12 and 15 other young people on the bus. It was St. Patrick's Day and Mohini Singh says a rowdy group was on the bus, throwing a wig around.

"They were harassing him and they threw the wig at him. He told them not to bother him or he'd call the police, and they continued to harass him," she said.

Gagandeep got off the bus on Highway 97 at McCurdy Road and was followed by the group of strangers.

"They got off after him, waited for the bus to leave and then they swarmed him, they beat him in his face, in his ribs, arms, and legs and then proceeded to grab his turban, pull his hair and drag him," Mohini Singh said, adding that the group took the turban with them when they left Gagandeep in a pile of "dirty snow" on the side of the road.

"Taking his turban was the worst, it feels like they've taken it as a trophy."

After he regained consciousness, Mohini Singh says Gagandeep called a friend who came to the scene and called 911.


Mohini Singh said that Gagandeep's friends and fellow international students have been left shaken and scared by the attack, prompting a gathering at the bus stop Sunday where they spoke out about how they feel less safe in their community.

The councillor says the fact that Gangandeep is Sikh and from India was "undoubtedly" a factor in the assault.

"I entirely believe this is racism and it should be treated as that. It should be looked at through the lens of being a hate crime. This is so wrong on so many levels. This is not something that is acceptable anywhere -- not in Kelowna, not anywhere," she said.

"This is intolerable, it's absolutely disgusting."


The Kelowna RCMP, in a statement, confirmed that they are investigating after someone was "hit from behind and assaulted" by a group of people at the bus stop Friday evening and that responding officers found the victim "laying on the ground." No details about injuries were provided but authorities said the victim was taken to hospital by paramedics.

"The Kelowna RCMP take this very seriously and are concerned that this type of crime has happened in our city," spokesperson Const. Mike Della-Paolera said.

"This assault is the top priority for our investigators."

Witnesses and anyone with information are asked to call 250-762-3300.


A GoFundMe started to support Gagandeep had raised more than $6,000 by Sunday evening. The money raised will go to helping with medical expenses, rent, and potentially the cost of a flight from India for the young man's parents.

"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," the page says.

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." Top Stories

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