Toronto: The Canadian police are investigating an incident in which a 17-year-old Sikh student was “kicked, punched and pepper-sprayed” after an “altercation” on a public transit bus in British Columbia province.
The incident happened at the intersection of Rutland Road South and Robson Road East in Kelowna shortly before 4 pm on Monday,” the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) said on Wednesday.
“Officers determined a 17-year-old Sikh student was either beer or pepper sprayed by another teenage male after exiting a public transit bus on his way home,” a statement from Kelowna RCMP read.
It added that before the assault, there was “an altercation” aboard a bus, which resulted in those involved being kicked off.
Calling an investigation into the incident, the World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSOC) identified the Sikh as a Grade 11 student, who was attacked while riding a transit bus from Rutland Secondary School.
“Monday’s attack on a Sikh high school student in Kelowna is shocking and unacceptable,” said Guntaas Kaur, WSO vice president for British Columbia (BC).
Giving details of the incident, a release issued by the WSOC said: “two individuals approached the student and first barred his entry onto the bus and then, once allowing him to board, began to threaten him with a lighter and (began to) photograph and record him from a close distance with their phones”.
“When the Sikh student turned away, the attackers’ phone fell from their hands and they began to kick and punch the Sikh student in front of the bus driver,” the WSOC statement read.
It further said that the bus driver did not intervene, and, in fact, ordered the Sikh student and his attackers off the bus at the Rutland and Robson stop.
After getting kicked off the bus, the two continued to attack the student, including pepper spraying him, until intervention by the passers-by.
While the student wasn’t named, WSOC said it was the second attack on a Sikh student this year in Kelowna.
In March, 21-year-old Gagandeep Singh was swarmed and beaten by a group of people who ripped off his turban and dragged him across the sidewalk by his hair in the city.
The WSOC’s statement said that the student is a newcomer to Canada who “did not understand why he was attacked or the slurs and insults that were shouted at him during the incident”.
He’s afraid of being attacked again if he returns to school, Kaur said.
Kelowna RCMP confirmed to Global News that an active investigation into the case is underway with investigators speaking to several witnesses and collecting video evidences.
Police further said that they have identified a teenage suspect in the case and are “taking steps to determine the motivation of this crime”.