He has taken the same route to and from work for 20 years. But on a warm summer’s day this year, a 62-year-old grandfather was subjected to the most appalling violence.
The man, a Sikh leader who Greater Manchester Police have not named, was in the centre of Manchester’s Northern Quarter – the city’s hip mix of independent bars, shops – and galleries, when he had a life-changing encounter.
It is believed as he walked he may have accidentally brushed the arm of a young woman. The result of that innocent contact would be catastrophic. The woman’s boyfriend, it is thought, took exception and began to follow him down the street.
CCTV footage captures the men exchanging words on Hilton Street. But the victim moves away, clearly wishing to avoid any confrontation. Striding with purpose, the man he was talking to pursues him from Hilton Street into Tib Street. He then hits him in the head with two quick punches.
Chillingly, the second punch leaves the victim motionless in the middle of the street. He suffered a serious brain injury and has not spoken a word since. His attacker calmly walked away, glancing back briefly to look at his victim lying in the road near the Spanish restaurant, Evuna.
Approaching cars slowed and passers-by stopped, one calling emergency services. Now police have decided to release video footage of the attack in a bid to identify the thug who carried out the savage assault. They have also issued CCTV images of a man and a woman they want to speak to. The victim’s broken family say they feel have ‘lost’ the man who brought joy to their lives.
As well as his religious commitments, the victim also worked in textiles to help support his family and give his children the opportunities he never had. He has lived in the Manchester area for almost four decades.
It was early evening and there were many pedestrians on the Northern Quarter’s main roads and side streets when the victim, dressed in a white shirt and a turban, was attacked.
The family of the victim, who lives in Greater Manchester, said: “On the June 23, 2022, our loving and caring husband/father, a 62 year old Sikh priest, had his life tragically altered forever when a thug cowardly committed this heinous act, leaving him in a pool of blood with catastrophic permanent life-changing brain damage and walked away as if it was normal behaviour.
“A devoted husband and father who has lived, worked and supported a community in a city he has loved for 37 years and now cannot even leave the hospital.
“He worked long hours every day to help his children live the life he never got to and make sure we were raised to help and inspire future generations, raising a teacher, a pharmacist and a soon-to-be doctor.
“A Sikh priest was left for dead on the bustling streets of Manchester, a route he has walked home every day, while people watched on. He was mindlessly and violently attacked and the sick, cowardly individuals are still out there.
“We read horrific things in the news but never expect it to happen to one of your own, a man who could not say a single hateful or negative comment, who taught those around him to practice kindness.
“We have lost the life of the party, the light in amongst any darkness in our lives and the laughter and joy he brought home every day, has disappeared and left our hearts vacant. We will sadly never get the man back who left for work that day and thought he would walk home to enjoy the nice weather.
“We appeal to anyone who knows anything or knows the offender to come forward, it is more than two months since the incident, and we are no closer to finding them and bringing them to justice for their actions. Our husband/father lives in a hospital bed with life changing injuries not knowing what the future holds.
“Please, please act today not out of hate but to stop this happening again to someone else and tearing another family apart, as we would not wish this anguish on anyone else.”
On the day of the attack, one witness told the Manchester Evening News they were sitting in a bar opposite the scene with friends when the incident happened. He said he saw two men walking from Oldham Road towards Tib Street.
He said: “When they got to the corner, then one of them swung for the other, and then did it again,” he said. “He punched him straight in the face and then got him on the floor, and then walked off.”
He said the man on the floor wasn’t moving, and was taken away in an ambulance, describing the encounter as ‘actually quite shocking’.
In a statement Greater Manchester Police said: “Just before 6.30pm on Thursday 23 rd June 2022, officers were called by the North West Ambulance Service to a report of a man found unconscious in the road on Tib Street.
“CCTV enquiries revealed that the victim had been assaulted by an unknown male close to the junction with Hilton Street. The offender then fled the scene on foot, turning right onto Oldham Street. The victim was left unconscious in the middle of the road, before being taken to hospital where he has since remained.”
Detective Inspector Mark Astbury, of Longsight CID, said: “We are keen to identify the man and woman pictured in the attached images, as we believe they may be able to assist us with our investigation.
“We took the decision to release the CCTV footage with the family’s permission, simply to show the severity and mindlessness of this attack and why we need to make sure the offender is found and faces the consequences of his appalling actions.”
Anyone with information, or who may recognise the man or woman pictured in the images is asked to contact police on 0161 856 6049 or report it online at www.gmp.police.uk. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111
A 38-year-old man who arrested in July on suspicion of serious assault in connection with the attack has been eliminated from inquiries.