Attack on Hindu priest in New York leads to call for hate crime investigation

By Aysha Khan | Religion News Service

(RNS) – Faith leaders are calling on New York City police to launch a hate crime investigation into a violent attack on a Hindu priest near his temple in Queens.

Swami Harish Chander Puri, the 62-year-old priest who leads the Shiv Shakti Peeth temple in the Glen Oaks neighborhood, said he was walking outside his temple the morning of July 18 when a man came up behind him and began hitting him repeatedly.

Locals said they believe the priest was targeted because of his religious clothing and that the attacker screamed “this is my neighborhood” during the assault, according to media reports and a letter published by Sadhana, a progressive Hindu movement based in New York City.