U.S. Congresswoman Grace Meng is serving her fourth term in the United States House of Representatives. (Photo | Grace Meng, Facebook)
U.S. Congresswoman Grace Meng is serving her fourth term in the United States House of Representatives. (Photo | Grace Meng, Facebook)

US Congresswoman voices disgust over 'heinous' attack on Hindu priest in New York

Grace Meng stressed that people from across the globe call Queens home and 'we are proud to embrace this rich diversity that exists in our communities and neighborhoods.'

NEW YORK: US Congresswoman Grace Meng has voiced disgust over the "heinous" attack on a Hindu priest in Queens, saying she stands with the minority Hindu community and her borough is home to several communities from around the world.

Swami Harish Chander Puri, priest of the Shiv Shakti Peeth temple in Glen Oaks, Queens was attacked by a man who reportedly screamed "this is my neighbourhood".

PIX11 reported that Puri had bruises and abrasions all over his body, including his face.

"I'm in a little pain," he said from a bed at his temple Friday night, PIX11 reported.

Meng, representing New York's 6th congressional district in the New York City borough of Queens, issued a statement strongly condemning the attack.

"I am disgusted over the violent attack on a Hindu priest in our borough. This type of brutal act is un-American and the person who committed this heinous crime is a coward," she said.

Meng stressed that people from across the globe call Queens home and "we are proud to embrace this rich diversity that exists in our communities and neighborhoods".

Commending the New York Police Department for making a swift arrest in this case, she expressed confidence that justice will be served.

"I stand with the Hindu community and wish the victim a full recovery," she said.

According to a report in PIX11, around 11 AM Thursday near the Shiv Shakti Peeth temple, while Puri was walking down the street in his religious garb, a man came up from behind and started hitting him repeatedly.

He had to be rushed to the hospital.

Police arrested 52-year-old Sergio Gouveia in connection to the attack. He is being charged with assault, harassment and criminal possession of a weapon. Police also say they're looking into whether this is a potential hate crime.

Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus also condemned the attack, saying 'bigotry and xenophobia does not distinguish between Hindus and Muslims or black and brown skin'.

The attack comes days after President Donald Trump took to Twitter this week to target four democratic congresswomen including Minnesota's Ilhan Omar, a Somali-born US citizen, prompting "send her back" chants from thousands at a rally in North Carolina days later.

Sadhana: Coalition of Progressive Hindus said "when the US President targets immigrants and refugees and encourages chants of 'send her back' at rallies, this results in real harm inflicted on our communities".

PIX11 reported that people who attend the temple believe the priest was targeted because of how he looks.

"He's wearing his religious clothes just walking around the block," said worshipper Sanjeev Jindal adding that "we are concerned since yesterday what is going on in our neighbourhood".

The coalition and other community partners and faith leaders called upon the New York Police Department to conduct a swift investigation of this brutal attack against the priest.

"The remarks uttered by Swami Puri Ji's attacker are a blatant example of hate speech.

Thus, we urge the NYPD to investigate this matter as a hate crime".

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The New Indian Express
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