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January 5, 2000
Thou Shalt Not Dance With Thy Neighbor's Wife
A P Kamath
Jasmat Dhillon should have known better, say some of the people who saw him asking a young woman to dance with him at a new year's eve gala. Sure, he is in America, in New York, and being a young man, he enjoys the company of young women. But how could he have asked a married Indian woman to dance with him, even as her husband was getting angry at the request?
But surely even those who are criticizing Dhillon for his lack of etiquette will not wish him any harm, especially the kind of harm that called for surgery.
As Dhillon, 20, spent several days in critical condition in a Long Island hospital, police are asking more details from eyewitness accounts. Doctors have removed a screwdriver from Dhillon's head, and police have arrested Parkeet Sharma, also 20, and charged him with second-degree attempted murder. Sharma is reported to be a friend of the married couple.
The incident has drawn attention to frequent altercations at many desi parties.
"Though this is an extreme example, where someone jabs a screwdriver into the head of another person," said a young club-hopping executive, "I have heard of many incidents where people have got into nasty fights at desi parties."
No surprise then, he said, a number of desi party organizers spend quite a bit of money on security and advertise about tight security in their radio, television and print advertisements.
"We are mainstream now," the young executive said. "We witness the similar kind of rough behavior as at mainstream parties."
Sharma, who like Dhillon drives a cab, has pleaded not guilty but he was being held without a bail, as the police thought he might jump bail and move out of New York or the country.
Homicide detective Frank Guidice believes that many people were offended at Dhillon's request but Sharma took it personally. The incident took place at Bombay Palace Restaurant on Long Island.
The married woman -- whose name has not been released by the authorities -- wanted to leave the restaurant immediately but her relatives who were also present got into an argument with Dhillon that subsided after some time. So the couple decided to stay back.
The police said that after the party was over, the couple found their car vandalized, with one of its windows smashed. There was no indication that Dhillon was involved but Sharma apparently thought so.
The police believe he stabbed Dhillon with a screwdriver that he had carried for his own protection.
Police are seeking more eyewitness accounts.
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