NEW YORK — It was the taxi ride from hell for 25-year-old Harkirat Singh.
Singh is of the Sikh faith and has been a cab driver for a little over a year, working the overnight shift in his family cab.
On Sunday, Singh picked up four passengers at the corner of 30th Street and Eighth Avenue in Manhattan around 5 a.m. They wanted to go to the Bronx.
Singh says they appeared drunk, but that was nothing he hasn't dealt with before. However, when he got to the location in the Bronx, the four argued he was at the wrong address.
"I asked if this was the address," says Singh. "They said, no this is not the address."
Singh says they then began giving him confusing directions as to where to go. They told him to turn left and right and left.
But, that then turned to screaming and yelling.
"They were disturbing me and hitting the partition," recalled Singh.
That is when he asked the four to get out of the taxi.
The four tried to leave without paying and Singh said he would call 911. One of the passengers paid the fare, and the four walked off.
Then one came back. Singh says that passenger opened the door and tried to break the meter and then punched Singh in the arm. Just before running off, the passenger grabbed Singh's turban off his head and ran off.
"He took my turban and said 'now you see Ali Baba,' recalled Singh.
Singh was able to snap a photo on his phone of the man who grabbed the turban and turned it over to police, who are now investigating this as a possible hate crime.
In the meantime, Singh is getting support from Mayor Bill de Blasio who tweeted out saying "Harkirat Singh - You are welcome here. What happened to you was wrong. You did the right thing by calling the NYPD."
Singh says while this was the most painful encounter he has ever dealt with, he wants his assailants and everyone to hear this message: "we have to respect one another. There is no difference between colors."