Tota Singh, Minister for NRI Affairs in the Punjab Government and other Akali leaders who were scheduled to address a meeting in Queens came under attack as hundreds of Sikhs protesting his visit allegedly threw stones and hurled a shoe at the leaders.
The protesting Sikhs chanted slogans and surrounded the area and the standoff between them and minister Singh’s delegation continued for over three hours as a heavy contingent of New York Police was summoned to the scene.
Two Sikh youths were taken into custody for attacking the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader, as police said the two were arrested for obstructing governmental administration, unlawful assembly, and disorderly conduct. Singh and the other Akali leaders were whisked away from the venue amid heavy police protection.
The Sikhs for Justice legal advisor Gurpatwant Singh Pannun said the North American Sikh groups are opposing SAD for their failure to convict Indian police officers who were involved in extra-judicial killings of thousands of innocent Sikhs during counter insurgency operations in the early 1990s.
Singh is leading a delegation to the US and Canada to garner support of the Punjabi diaspora for the 2017 Assembly elections.
Meanwhile the ruling Shiroman Akali Dal said the attack is an act of frustration by vested interests. Congress stated this was a manifestation of anger that NRI Punjabis, particularly Sikhs have against Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his government.
A function in Toronto, Canada, was also cancelled by organisers due to opposition from the audience. Police were called in and remained till the audience dispersed.