New York: US Congress leaders strongly condemn ‘heinous attack’ on Hindu priest

Prominent US Congresspersons have strongly condemned the heinous attack on a Hindu priest in Queens, saying they stand in solidarity with the community and the borough is home to a diverse community from around the world. Swami Harish Chander Puri ji, 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.US Congressman Tom Suozzi, representing New York’s 3rd Congressional District including parts of Queens, Nassau and Suffolk counties, said on Twitter that he strongly condemns the recent attack on the Hindu swami in Queens.

I will continue to stand in solidarity with the Hindu community in my district and across America. May god grant Swami Ji strength, so he may fully recover, he said. US Congresswoman Grace 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 neighbourhoods. 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, Meng 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 was beaten so badly, 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, promng send her back chants from thousands at a rally in North Carolina days later.

Sadhana 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 fact that was dressed religious wear def made him stick out, said another worshipper Radha Bakshi.