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Navtej Singh Sidhu- unemployed, homeless Sikh attacked and set on fire


Hey NRIs! Don't become Homeless if GURDWARA's & MANDARs are there

Los Angeles, Feb 24, 2009
Karen/ Gary Singh

Sometimes NRIs lose a job because of cutbacks. Working hard doesn't always guarantee financial security. Some folks believe that the reason people become homeless is because they are lazy.

Usually there is a combination of factors in someone's life which contribute to their homelessness. Some common issues that contribute to persons becoming homeless include: lack of education, lack of affordable housing, lack of employable job skills, addictions, and mental illness. It’s important to remember, however, that these issues, by themselves, usually don’t cause homelessness.

In NRI Navtej Singh Sidhu's case, he came from India to hard work. He became homeless when he lost his job as a builder's labourer four months ago. Why he need to sleep on a bench in Nettuno, south of Rome when we have Gurdwaras in Rome.

It is shame to read in a Italian news papers that Sikh was homeless. Sikhs cannot be homeless because they always help each other on these issues. To serve our community and and prayer, we constructed Gurdwaras in major cities of the world. I remembered that 70-80s, in Gurdwars, needy Hindus and Sikhs always land there when they come from other countries. If Mr. Sidhu is smart, he should go to Gurdwara and talked to management to live longer.

In India we treat Italian Edvige Antonia Albina Maino now known as Sonia Gandhi as royalty. But in Italy the racist Italians are setting fire on immigrants and a recent victim is an Indian Navtej Singh Sidhu. Three Italian youngsters beat up 35 year old Navtej Singh Sidhu and poured gasoline on him and then set him on fire in Nettuno, Italy on 1 February 2009.

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NRI Navtej Sidhu kicked, punched and set on fire.
Italy: Sikhs to pray for Indian attack victim

Rome, 5 Feb. (AKI) - The Province of Rome's Sikhs will be holding prayers on Sunday for a homeless Indian man who was brutally attacked last weekend and set on fire in the Lazio coastal town of Nettuno, two community leaders told Adnkronos International (AKI).

"We are dismayed and angry.We are certain it was a racist attack and we will be praying for him on Sunday," the president of Rome's Via Aurelia Sikh temple, Balbir Singh told AKI.

Homeless Sikh illegal immigrant Navtej Singh Sidhu is currently in Rome's St. Eugenio hospital with a fractured skull and 40 percent burns to his body.

He was hit over the head with a bottle, kicked, punched and set alight by assailants around 4 am last Sunday as he slept on a bench at Nettuno's train station. Three local youths have been arrested and charged with attempted murder over the attack.

"What happened in Nettuno was strange and could be a sign of worse times ahead," said Singh, who owns a blacksmith's business.

"When I came here, there was more respect. We are a hardworking and respectful people that wants peace," said Singh.

Like Sidhu, Singh is originally from India's northwest state of Punjab. He has lived in Italy for 20 years and said the climate has worsened for immigrants here in recent years since Italy became a destination for mass immigration.

There are around 10,000 Sikhs in Rome and 15-20,000 in the Province of Rome out of a total 25-30,000 Indians. Most are employed as labourers, mainly in agriculture.

Singh Agit, who leads the Sikh temple in the Nettuno suburb of Padiglione, agreed the attack against Sidhu was worrying. "It is the first time such an awful thing has happened to one of our lads," he told AKI.

Singh and Ajit said they are grateful to Rome's mayor, Gianni Alemanno who earlier this week on television announced that he will give Sidhu a permanent job and accommodation when he gets out of the hospital.

He is due to undergo his first skin graft on his legs on Friday. Doctors say he will require several operations and will be in the hospital for several months.

He became homeless when he lost his job as a builder's labourer four months ago after his residency permit expired.

Currently, residency permits are issued which are valid for only four to five months. It can take seven to eight months to get these renewed, meaning the new one has already expired by the time the immigrant receives it.

Singh and Ajit both urged Italy to streamline the costly and cumbersome bureaucracy which can make life doubly hard for immigrants.

Ajit went further, arguing that immigrants must have the same entitlements as Italian workers. "Italians must help immigrants," he said.

"That means making affordable accommodation available and giving them the same pay and benefits as Italians who do the same job," Ajit said.

Immigrants working as agricultural labourers in the area around Nettuno typically earn around two or three euros an hour, and to make ends meet work up to 12 hours a day, he said.

Some employers pay late, and sometimes don't pay their labourers at all, said Ajit, who has lived in Italy since 1991.

Also from Punjab, he is currently unemployed and has worked in agriculture, in a florist's and a supermarket.

He is currently seeking help from Italy's largest union CGIL in obtaining severance and sick pay from the supermarket, which fired him after he broke his leg and was off work for an extended period.



Italy: Attack on homeless Indian labourer causes alarm
Rome, 2 Feb. (AKI) -

A vicious attack by three local youths against a homeless Indian man in a small coastal town outside Rome has shocked the Indian community, charities and politicians in Italy.

Unemployed Indian labourer Navtej Singh Sidhu is in a critical condition in a Rome hospital with burns to 40 percent of his body after the youths doused him with petrol and paint and set him alight as he slept rough on a bench in Nettuno, south of Rome. The youths kicked, punched and insulted him before they set the 35-year-old on fire.

"It's a dangerous time for immigrants to be living in Italy, especially if you have a dark skin," one immigrant who has been resident in Italy for 10 years told Adnkronos International on condition of anonymity.

Staff from an association representing Indian workers and the Indian Embassy in Rome visited Sidhu in hospital on Monday.

After losing his job as a labourer, Sidhu reportedly had been unable to afford accommodation and had been sleeping on a bench at Nettuno railway station for several nights, reports said.

The head of Catholic charity Caritas' immigration office, Olivero Forte, told AKI the attack against Sidhu was "despicable". He said he feared the current economic and social climate would provoke more incidents against immigrants.

"Intolerence is growing towards the weakest in society, including homeless people, and immigrants often fall into this category," Forte stated.

He said that Caritas, the United Nations refugee agency and national non-governmental organisations such as ARCI are planning a major anti-racism campaign in the next few months to change attitudes towards immigrants in Italy.

"There are four million legal immigrants here. Indians have never created any problems," said Forte.

Rome's mayor Gianni Alemanno and many other Italian politicians expressed revulsion at the attack and vowed to take action to protect vulnerable people like Sidhu, who is originally from the northwestern state of Punjab.

"We will help him in every way and defend honest people," said Alemanno. " I await the results of the investigation, but would not exclude this from being a fresh incident of bullying by young people," said Alemanno.

Italy's centre-left opposition leader Walter Veltroni did not hesitate to define the attack as racist.

"Episodes of criminal intolerance such as this are the result of xenophobic propaganda and a climate of hatred and fear that has been created," he said.

Veltroni was referring to the hardline immigration policies of the current centre-right government and a series of attacks against immigrants in recent years.

Sidhu was barely able to give his name to ambulance workers before passing out in agony from severe burns to his legs, face and neck after the attack early on Sunday.

He will require plastic surgery and unless there are complications, will have to undergo several operations, according to doctors.

It is not known who called the ambulance. Investigators believe it could have been one of the three young men arrested on suspicion of attempted murder over the attack.

Italian media reports named the three as C.G., aged 20, F.S., aged 17, and B.F., aged 30. Following hours of interrogation by police, the youths confessed to attacking Sidhu after a night spent drinking heavily and taking drugs.

The youths are "from good families" and do not have previous criminal records. police said.

They claimed they didn't attack Sidhu because he was an immigrant but said they had sought out "a bum" to whom the could "teach a lesson" and "experience poweful emotions."

"We were looking for a down-and-out person, someone sleeping rough. Not necessarily a Romanian or a black person, just someone we could teach a lesson to," the youths were quoted as saying by La Stampa newspaper.

Clashes broke out on Sunday between members of the 15,000 strong local immigrant community who held a protest in Nettuno over the attack on Sidhu and a local far-right group who heckled the protesters, reportedly shouting: "Burn them all!"

January saw vigilante-style attacks against immigrants in Italy following several rapes allegedly perpetrated by immigrants. Last November, four youths beat up and set alight a homeless Italian man sleeping on a park bench in the northern city of Padova.

A 63-year-old Ghanaian immigrant sitting on a park bench in Milan was severely beaten last year by baseball-bat wielding thugs shouting: "Dirty nigger, you all have to get out of Italy!"

Earlier vigilante-style attacks have occurred in southern Italy, for example when a naval captain's wife was allegedly raped and murdered in Rome by a Romanian drifter in 2007. Raids were carried out on encampments across Italy and dozens of Romanians judged to be a threat to public security were deported after the incident. source: