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Indian-American charged with federal hate crime against employees of Sikh organisation

Bhushan Athale, 48, faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for interfering with federally protected activities by threatening to use a dangerous weapon, a statement by the Department of Justice said.
Last Updated : 06 June 2024, 04:05 IST
Last Updated : 06 June 2024, 04:05 IST

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Washington: An Indian-American man from Texas has been charged with a federal hate crime and is accused of issuing interstate threats against employees of a Sikh nonprofit organisation.

Bhushan Athale, 48, faces a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for interfering with federally protected activities by threatening to use a dangerous weapon, a statement by the Department of Justice said.

He also faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison for sending an interstate threat. Both charges also carry a penalty of up to USD 250,000, the statement said.

According to the complaint lodged on September 17, 2022, Athale allegedly called the phone number of an organisation that advocates for the civil rights of Sikh individuals within the United States.

He allegedly left seven voicemails expressing "extreme hatred" towards Sikh individuals working at the organisation and threatening to "injure or kill these individuals with a razor", the statement said.

Athale’s voicemails are alleged to have "violent imagery and obscenity, and contained "references to places, people and tenets that are particularly significant within the Sikh religion", it said.

In March, Athale allegedly called the organisation again and left two more voicemails — this time the target were Sikhs and Muslims.

The Department of Justice said that the investigation showed that Athale has a "long history of making religious-based comments and threats" and has previously also used a professional networking site "to express to a former co-worker that he “hate]d] Pakistan” and “hate]d] Muslims”.

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Published 06 June 2024, 04:05 IST

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