NJ Sikhs Terrorized By Texas Man Who Threatened To 'Show Them Heaven': Feds

A Texas man threatened to forcibly shave the “top and bottom hair” of a South Jersey Sikh activist, make that person smoke and eat tobacco and “show [them] heaven,” federal authorities charged.

Bhushan Athale

Bhushan Athale

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Bhushan Athale, 48, left seven voicemails of hate over the course of a single hour on Sept. 17, 2022, threatening to kill his primary target -- along with fellow members of a Sikh nonprofit organization in Burlington County – with a razor blade, they said.

The voicemails, from Dallas, were “filled with violent imagery and obscenity” and “contained references to places, people and tenets that are particularly significant within the Sikh religion,” U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Philip Sellinger said.

Athale called again in March 2023, this time leaving two voicemails, the U.S. attorney said.

“In these voicemails, Athale again used violent imagery to express his hatred toward Sikhs as well as Muslims, suggesting, among other things, that the Indian Government and Mumbai Police should ‘catch them and beat their ass’ and ‘f*ck these rascals’ mothers’,” he said.

Although born in India, Athale has become a naturalized U.S. citizen, court papers show.

He has a “long history,” according to Sellinger, of “making religious-based comments and threats.”

This included his using a professional networking site to express to a former co-worker that he “hate[d] Pakistan” and “hate[d] Muslims,” the U.S. attorney said.

Sellinger said Athale once told a co-worker: “I hate you, I just don’t know how to kill your whole family including you? Tell me??? I will figure it out […] Probably I will hire a Jew, they will be most happy.”

Federal authorities charged Athale this time with interfering with federally protected activities through the threatened use of a dangerous weapon and one count of transmitting an interstate threat to injure another person.

Sellinger credited the Philadelphia FBI Field Office with assembling the case for Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sara A. Aliabadi and Jason M. Richardson for the District of New Jersey and Trial Attorney Eric Peffley of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.

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