New York State Police Involvement in Investigation of Hindu Priest Attack is a Positive Step

New York, NY (July 26, 2019) — The Hindu American Foundation (HAF) continued to urge the NYPD to investigate last week’s brutal attack on Hindu priest and founder of Shiv Shakti Peeth mandir Swami Ji Harish Chander Puri, in the borough of Queens, New York as a hate crime.

Though news reports have indicated that the NYPD does not believe the attack on Puri was a hate crime — noting that the attacker may be mentally ill — both New York State Attorney General Letitia James and Governor Andrew Cuomo have taken a different stance. Cuomo has directed the New York State Police hate crimes task force to “assist the NYPD with their investigation.”

HAF Director of Communications Mat McDermott noted:

“The hateful words reportedly uttered towards Puri by Gouveia during the attack are a clear indication that a hate crimes investigation is called for. Whether Gouveia was indeed motivated by racial or religious animus can only be determined by thorough police work. Initial police impressions of Gouveia’s mental state or capacity should not be a deciding factor at this stage in how to proceed in this case. We believe that the involvement of the New York State Police hate crimes task force in the investigation is a positive step.”

HAF urges all members of the Hindu American community to report all bias-motivated attacks and incidents to local law enforcement, as well as record them in our bias-motivated crime reporting form.

Read more: HAF’s Temple Safety and Security Guide