City councillor says assault of international student in BC was "horrendous" and "disgusting"

Mar 19 2023, 11:08 pm

A 21-year-old international student who was swarmed and assaulted by a group of 12 to 15 young people is now recovering from his injuries, a local city councillor says.

Gagandeep Singh has been left in a “terrible state” city councillor, Mohini Singh, tells Daily Hive after she visited him upon hearing the news of the brutal assault he faced Friday night.

She explains that the student who attends a local private college was on the bus home after grocery shopping a little before 10:15 pm.

On the bus, he encountered a group of young men and women tossing around a wig and then threw it at him, Mohini says.

“He was just minding his own business in the back of the bus and he just told them not to [throw the wig at him] or he’d called the police to leave him alone.”

The student later got off the bus near McCurdy Road and Highway 97 and Mohini says, “[the group] also got off at the same bus stop, waited for the bus to drive away and then … assaulted him, hit him, swarmed him … And then pulled this turban off, dragged him by his hair and left him.”

The student was left unconscious, Mohini says.

After he woke up, Gagandeep called a friend who was able to transfer him to a hospital and contacted police.

Mohini says when she visited Gagandeep, he had injuries to his chest, arm, leg and mouth.

“When I went to see him, he couldn’t move. He just laid there with his mouth open. He couldn’t talk to me.”

The Kelowna councillor adds that friends and other international students at the young man’s bedside expressed how insulting they found the group’s actions.

“It’s a big insult when you run off with a Sikh’s turban. It’s maybe a joke to somebody. It wasn’t a joke to him,” Mohini says. “This is so wrong on so many levels.”

Mohini adds, Gagandeep doesn’t have medical coverage.

A GoFundMe has been set to support the student.

“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, and as an international student will have medical bills, rent, tuition and more,” the GoFundMe reads.

“With your support, we can help ensure that during Gagandeep’s road to recovery, he doesn’t need to worry about where the money will come from to pay for physio, food, rent or even to have his parents fly to Kelowna from India to see him.”

International students in the city are calling on the RCMP to investigate the incident as a hate crime.

“They see this as nothing more than blatant racism … It’s unacceptable,” Mohini states.

“This kind of behaviour is totally unacceptable. It’s horrendous. It’s disgusting.”

Kelowna RCMP confirmed it is investigating the assault.

“Once we have gathered all the evidence and spoken with all involved then the appropriate charges will be recommended,” an email statement reads.

Nikitha MartinsNikitha Martins

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