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Pakistani student convicted for cutting NRI Sikh student's hair in school

New York, March 11, 2008
Sunil Sharma

Umair Ahmed, 18, has been convicted and faces up to four years in prison for cutting 15-year-old Harpal Vacher's hair at a Queens high school.

The Court jury deliberated for two and half days before finding Ahmed guilty of menacing as a hate crime, coercion as a hate crime, criminal possession of a weapon and harassment. On April 11, he will be sentenced by Queens Supreme Court Justice Joel Blumenfeld.

On May 23, 2007, Ahmed threatened Harpal by saying that he would beat him up and send him home naked.

Ahmed approached Harpal in the cafeteria and told him that he'd forgive him for calling his mother a "whore" if he'd cut his hair. Harpal refused, telling Ahmed it was against his religion.

On May 24, 2007, Ahmed threatened to punch him with a ring, got a small pair of folding scissors from another student and ordered Harpal Vacher to the school's bathroom, forced him to remove his turban and, even though the student was saying he was sorry, the defendant cut his hair. New York Police Department's School Safety Division arrested Ahmed.

Queens district attorney, Richard Brown said, "Crimes of hate will never be tolerated here - the most culturally diverse county in the nation. The defendant has been convicted of a serious attack on the fundamental beliefs of his victims religion and his freedom to worship freely."