FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A hate crime investigation is underway in west-central Fresno after police say two people assaulted a Sikh man Saturday morning.
The assault happened at the intersection of Shields and Brunswick Avenues around 7 a.m. when Amrik Singh Bal, 68, was warmly dressed, wearing a turban and waiting for a ride to work.
Authorities say two men in a car approached Bal and began swearing at him. Bal tried to cross the street, but the men backed up the car and hit him. Then they got out and beat the man before taking off.
During the assault, police say one of the men asked Bal, "Why are you here?" "And with that type of a statement made we immediately implemented an investigation into a possible hate crime," said Sgt. Greg Noll with the Fresno Police Department. "And the victim was taken to Community Regional Medical Center."
The man suffered some cuts to his nose and hand and a broken collar bone, Bal is now at home recovering.
"And the people again said 'oh no, not again,'" Sikh community activist Ike Grewal said.
Grewal believes this could be backlash for the Paris and San Bernardino attacks, but he says Sikhs are peace-loving, hard-working people who have no relation to groups like ISIS or Al Qaeda.
"Sikhs are not terrorists," Grewal said. "If they're wearing turbans, it's because it's an article of their faith and not because they belong to any radical or terrorist group."
Now, Grewal says he's advising local Sikhs to be extra aware of their surroundings. And not to walk alone in the dark.