The 70-year-old Sikh man is from Punjab, India, and is staying at the Sikh Cultural Society, a well-known religious and cultural center in the South Richmond Hill section of Queens.
The incident, which police say was an unprovoked attack, is being investigated by the New York Police Department’s Hate Crimes Task Force.
“It was horrifying and heartbreaking to see an elderly man in such poor condition,” Gurinder Singh, a Richmond Hill resident who saw the victim sitting outside the cultural center, told CNN minutes after the attack. “People come to America to have a better life, but something like this happens.”
Police have not identified a suspect or possible motive at this time.
Nirmal was taken by ambulance to an area hospital on Sunday, where doctors told him he had a broken nose, he said.
Community leaders suggest it was an act of racism
“It happens too often in New York, where random people approach other people who don’t look like them and punch them,” said Harpreet Singh Toor, president of public policy and external affairs at the Sikh Cultural. Society. “It’s something that our community is going through, but right now there’s a big increase.”
“We have seen our people being bullied time and time again for what they look like,” Aminta Kilawan-Narine, a community activist from southern Queens, told CNN.
“Asian Americans, including South Asians, have been subjected to violence on the streets of our city and we will not tolerate it. What happened to Nirmal Singh should never have happened.”