20 Nov 2015

Auckland student mistaken for a terrorist

1:19 pm on 20 November 2015
Jaspreet Singh was meeting his medical school mentor when police arrived.

Jaspreet Singh was meeting his medical school mentor when police arrived. Photo: RNZ/Mohamed Hassan

A Sikh student in Auckland was mistaken for a terrorist when police were called out to investigate whether his headphones were a bomb.

Jaspreet Singh, 21, was sitting at Columbus cafe yesterday morning, outside Auckland Hospital, and a few metres away from the University of Auckland medical school where he's studying to become a doctor.

He was meeting one of his mentors and research supervisor, Professor Luke Larkin, to talk about a research project he was keen to get involved with.

Two police officers entered the cafe 20 minutes later and asked Singh to step outside.

He was told a member of the public had seen him put his headphones into his bag, and suspected he was putting wires into a transistor radio.

Singh said his first reaction was to laugh, because it was so ridiculous.

He said the incident was influenced by some racial bias, but had more to do with ignorance and fear.

A police spokesperson, Scott Leonard, confirms the callout was made yesterday morning.

"Someone saw a male with headphones out...and then put wires into what looked like a transistor radio in a backpack."

He said police went to the cafe and spoke to the parties involved, but decided there was nothing of concern.

A version of this story was first published on radionz.co.nz.