A violent attack in Regina has left a newcomer to Canada lying in a coma in hospital, his family devastated and fellow cab drivers wary about their safety.
On Thursday night, a cab driver – 31-year-old Iqbal Singh Sharma – was attacked in his vehicle on Park Street near Victoria.
Khushdeep Singh is a friend of Sharma’s.
Singh said Sharma had picked up a fare of three men but they got into a fight in his cab. Singh said he was told one of the men pulled out a knife.
“He started attacking, I guess, his fellow friends, and somehow Iqbal got in and then I think he tried to escape.”
Police said it appeared an altercation occurred inside the cab and continued, even though the driver stopped and tried to get out of the vehicle.
A 20-year-old man was later arrested but, as of Sunday evening, no charges had been laid.
“I just can’t believe that this happened. And how can you hit someone that way too,” said Singh.
On Sunday, Singh said Sharma’s life was no longer in danger but the situation wasn’t good – he is being kept in a coma.
“He has a big brain injury and he got stabbed in the chest, neck, and his head, so there’s lots of swelling on the brain. And if they try to wake him up his … heartbeat fluctuates and blood pressure goes high.”
Singh said Sharma could end up being paralyzed on one side.
“God knows. We just have to wait and pray and watch.”
Sharma had only been in Canada four months, after coming from India with his wife and toddler. Singh picked them up from the airport. Singh said they hadn’t even settled in yet.
“Being new, they haven’t gotten their life set up too right, they’ve got a little kid – three years old – he doesn’t know what happened.”
That’s why Singh started a GoFundMe campaign, to raise money for the family to live on. The campaign has raised more than $13,000 since it was started on Friday.
“This is where we can say humanity still exists,” said Singh.
“I don’t know how to thank everybody in words, how to express, but it’s great. This will help him survive.”
Singh is also a cab driver in Regina and he said this is a scary thing to happen.
“I’ve heard about robberies and this and that, but nothing too serious, nothing life-threatening until now. But this is something that actually makes me worry, you know. You’re driving a cab, you look at the person, you don’t know what sort of person he or she is.”
Singh said he’s lucky – he’s only ever had people skip out on fares.
Singh believes there should be more safety considerations for cab drivers and would like the city to put bylaws in place for things like shields around drivers in their vehicles.