It was an evening Sagar would like to forget. He says, as he was walking up Elizabeth St in Hobart at about 7 pm, two men hit on his head and knocked his turban down.
“I never felt so humiliated. I never felt so un-welcomed. I am not able to forget that moment,” said Sagar, who works as a commercial analyst with a private firm in Tasmania.
The incident, Sagar describes, happened on 14 April.
“It was raining, and I was carrying an umbrella. Two men walked toward me, and one of them flipped my umbrella. When I asked him why he did it, he came toward me aggressively, as if he would hit me. I thought it was better to avoid a fight because any rational man would do the same. We try to avoid situations like this,” Sagar said.
“So I stepped back, and when I was about to pick up my umbrella, he intentionally and with full force hit me on my head to remove my turban. My turban and Keski underneath the turban fell on the ground.”
Sagar arrived in Australia as an international student in 2016. He lived in Sydney for over four years before moving to Tasmania for work. He says he has been through such incidents being a Sikh when he was shown unkind hand gestures or called names.
“Most of the time, it’s just verbal abuse, hand gestures or abusive comments about the colour of my skin, my beard or my turban. But this was extreme. I was in complete shock, and I thought it was better to have evidence of this incident. After hitting me when he started walking, I tried to take a video of him so that I could show it to the police. The man who did this tried not to show his face and kept walking while the man accompanying him stopped and aggressively posed in front of me like he was about to hit me,” he recalls.
Sagar says a woman picked up his turban and umbrella as he was in “complete shock.” He has filed a police complaint and waiting for the authorities to take some action. His experiences in Tasmania have made him feel some awareness is needed in Tasmania.
“There have been many such incidents in Hobart. I think we need to educate people,” observes Sagar.
Tasmania has received a large number of migrants in recent years as the federal government is pushing for regional migration. However, local community leader Rajat Chopra agrees that more awareness is needed.
“More awareness campaigns should be run by State and Local Governments to the educated local population on the importance and need of migration to grow the economy and state. In addition, leaders should take the approach of condemning the acts of racism and discrimination,” Mr Chopra told NRI Affairs.