Sikh Community Reflects on Fabricated Story of Attack

March 16, 2004

Source: The Star-Ledger

On March 16, 2004 The Star-Ledger reported, "Like most teenagers, Simrandeep Singh and his friend wanted to 'fit in.' But at Lodi High School, the turbans covering their long dark hair made them stand out. The young Sikhs cut their hair, an act forbidden by their religion, and then concocted a story they were sure would convince their parents and police: They told authorities they were accosted in a local park by scissors-wielding thugs who swiped their turbans and clipped their locks. Neither knew how far that lie would travel, or how deep it would go. For several days now, the haircut and the lie have reverberated through a Sikh community that desperately wants to hold onto its traditions while preparing its children for the pressure to conform and fit in... When the so-called 'crime' was first reported on March 3, it hit the news, then the Internet, and shocked the Sikh community across the country, which has witnessed a surge in bias crimes since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. After the boys confessed late last week that they made up the story, Sikh leaders said they were ashamed and saddened... Amardeep Singh said he is afraid the Lodi incident will damage the reputation of Sikhs. He said the Lodi police responded swiftly, calling in Sikh leaders to discuss the problem. 'It's really a shame that the many legitimate claims of harassment or bias might not be taken seriously because of the actions of these individuals,' Amardeep Singh said. 'This is not a good impression to make.'"