NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — The NYPD is investigating a possible hate crime against a cab driver in the Bronx.
Police say 25-year old Harkirat Singh, who is Sikh, was attacked on 165th Street and Jerome Avenue early Sunday morning.
“They took my turban, that time I feel very bad, and I’m crying from inside,” he said.
Singh took a cellphone picture of the man he claims punched him and stole the turban.
He said the man was with a woman and two other men in their 20s who got into his yellow taxi in Manhattan, and asked to go to the Bronx.
Singh said he had the passengers plug their Bronx destination into the GPS on his phone.
When they arrived at the location, Singh claims the passengers got hostile, saying he took them to the wrong place.
“At that time I like to call police you know. They are hitting my partition of my cab. They shouting in my cab, they’re doing a lot of things, but they’re saying things like ‘Alibaba,” he said.
Outnumbered and fearing for hiss afety, Singh took a picture of the passengers and called police.
He said the woman paid the fare with her credit card, but the man sitting in the front seat refused to leave.
“The guy was trying to broke my meter after eh punched here and took my turban. ‘Now you effing see, you Alibaba,’ he try to speak like this,” he said.
Religious leaders called it a crime of ignorance.
“Taking away your turban is considered the worst kind of insult to the Sikh, and then taking and walking away with it, it’s like killing the person,” Harpeet Singh Toor, The Sikh Cultural Society, explained.
Still too upset to drive full time, Singh said he is only driving enough to pay rent on his cab.
“I want my turban back of course. It insults my religion, my faith, and myself also,” Sing said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio tweeted, “Harkirat Singh — You are welcome here. What happened to you was wrong. You did the right thing by calling the NYPD.”
Police said they have the credit card information of the female passenger allegedly involved.