A Californian man has been charged with a hate crime after he was filmed hurling racial slurs and abusing a man in Taco Bell, yelling at him: ‘this ain’t India.’
Singh Tejinder, 37, of Union City, came across Krishnan Jayaraman at a Taco Bell in Fremont, in the Bay Area, on August 21.
He is seen confronting Jayaraman and hurling insults, calling him a ‘dirty Hindu,’ repeatedly using the N-word, and saying Jayaraman was vegetarian and at one moment he even spits at his victim.
‘He said: ‘hey pick up your bean burrito and leave. You’re a vegetarian right? You don’t eat beef. You should eat beef. You Indians should eat beef,” Jayaraman said.
Tejinder, who in charging documents gives his ethnicity as ‘Asian/Indian’, was filmed saying: ‘B****, this ain’t India! You f***ed India up, and now you’re f***ing America up.’
In an interview with ABC7 News, Jayaraman recalled the man stating, ‘You’re a Hindu who bathes in cow urine.’
Cows are considered sacred animals in the Hindu religion and Tejinder repeatedly urges Jayaraman to order a beef taco.
Singh Tejinder, 37, of Union City, has been charged with a hate crime after the August 21 attack
Tejinder told him: ‘You’re disgusting, dog. You look nasty. Don’t come out in public like this again.’
Jayaraman called the police, waiting inside the restaurant even after receiving his food order and recording in silence.
‘I didn’t see a point of me trying to engage somebody who’s hell-bent on picking up a fight and wanting me to engage,’ he said. ‘He was so close to my face. He was throwing his dollars on my face. He was spitting everywhere.’
He added that he was worried that if he walked to his car, the man may follow him out.
He said he was frightened by the incident and upset to learn the ethnicity of his attacker.
‘I was scared, to be honest with you,’ he told NBC News.
‘I was infuriated on the one hand, but I was scared that what if this guy becomes too belligerent and then comes after me?’
When Jayaraman heard his racist attacker pronouncing Hindi words and using Punjabi towards the end of the confrontation, he realized that Tejinder might have been of Indian descent, but aligning with a Sikh nationalist independence movement in northern India known as the Khalistan movement.
‘F**k Indira Gandhi, n****,’ Tejinder is heard saying, in reference to the female Indian prime minister who was assassinated by Sikh nationalists in 1984.
Krishnan Jayaraman was singled out by Tejinder, racially abused and spat on
Jayaraman explained: ‘Toward the end of the video, he said the late Prime Minister’s name and threw an f-bomb at it. And then I realized, oh my god, he may be Indian.’
‘That group, the Khalistan group, was deemed a terrorist organization in India,’ Jayaraman said. ‘At that point, it dawned upon me that he may be somebody who has an ulterior motive to do all these things.’
The man is heard telling Jayaraman: ‘You were the ones, when the East India Company came, you were the ones to kneel first. Your people were the ones to put your head down, b****!’
The confrontation went on for over eight minutes until police arrived to arrest Tejinder, and Jayaraman was critical of Taco Bell employees for not directly intervening.
‘So many of these employees were so busy, but they’re in the front. They’re seeing him abusing me,’ he said.
‘So I thought, at least they will ask him to leave the establishment. Which is probably what most franchises would do. I mean, I don’t know what the policies of Taco Bell are.’
Some Hindus in the local community spoke of a rise in hinduphobic behavior across the country.
‘I think that video is so horrific,’ Pushpita Prasad told NBC Bay Area. ‘It’s sort of what we have been dreading for a while. We’ve been seeing an increasing number of attacks on Hindu Americans.’
Prasad is with the Coalition of Hindus of North America, a grassroots organization for Hindu education.
‘Hindu hatred has been around for a while. And it’s unfortunately surfacing right now. Partly because there are a lot of actors that are sort of creating a lot of hate,’ she said.
Tejinder insulted and ranted at Jayaraman for over eight minutes, at one point waving a handful of dollars
Tejinder was charged on Monday with a hate crime in violation of civil rights, assault and disturbing the peace by offensive language, the Fremont Police Department said.
Taco Bell said in a statement that it is aware of the incident, calling the actions in the video ‘troubling, upsetting and not consistent with the brand’s inclusive values to respect and welcome customers of all backgrounds.’
Police Chief Sean Washington of the Fremont Police Department deplored the incident and called it ‘despicable’.
‘We are here to protect all community members, regardless of their gender, race, nationality, religion, and other differences,’ he wrote on Facebook.
‘We would like to urge the community to be respectful of each other and to immediately report any circumstances such as this that, upon investigation may rise to the level of a crime.
‘Fremont is one of the nation’s most diverse communities, and we are thankful for the contributions of community members from different cultures and backgrounds.’