Indians in the News of Sex, Lies and Sarcasm

Dr. Shafeeq Sheikh

Dr. Shafeeq Sheikh

By Jawahar Malhotra

HOUSTON: In the continuing trend of Indians popping up in the news all over the national map, here are three who made headlines – two not of type that you’d normally expect from a model minority – and one that is blazing a path in comedy.

Coming on the heels of the box-office hit movie “Crazy Rich Asians”, the New York Times recently released a survey that showed that among Asians in the US, Indians have the highest median annual income – about $100,000 – compared to other Asian minority populations. Filipinos were a distant second at $80,000, Sri Lankans at $75,000, Chinese at $70,000, Pakistanis at $65,000 and Bangladeshis and Nepalese around $50,000.

Dr. Shafeeq Sheikh, 46: This internal medicine physician practiced medicine at Houston’s Methodist Hospital until his arrest two years after the incident of rape on 2 November 2013. The state medical board revoked his license to practice medicine. He was accused of raping a “heavily sedated” patient identified only as Laura.
In a trial just recently concluded in Houston, a jury found Sheikh guilty but he will not serve any jail time for the crime but instead the judge sentenced him to 10 years’ probation, fined $10,000 and ordered to register for life as a sex offender.

Sheikh, a father of four who emigrated from India, told jurors the patient led him on. He said she took his hand to her breasts when he was performing a chest exam. He returned later, allured by her breast implants, and she touched his genitals, he said. She then shifted onto one side and pushed her buttocks to the edge of the gurney, signaling that she wanted more, he said.

Sheikh’s defense lawyer, Stanley Schneider, pleaded with the jury for a lighter sentence than prison time given his client had no prior convictions and that Sheikh’s wife and four children had suffered through an ordeal. Sheikh’s wife and brother also testified on his behalf during the trial. Sheikh has been free on bond since the guilty verdict.

Prabhu Ramamoorthy

Prabhu Ramamoorthy

Prabhu Ramamoorthy, 35: A federal jury deliberated 3½ hours before convicting Ramamoorthy of Rochester Hills, Mich. of sexual abuse on a late-night Spirit Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Detroit on January 13. Ramamoorthy, an Indian national in the United States on a work visa, faces up to life in prison after he’s sentenced on December 12 and will be deported back to India after serving his sentence.

The 22-year-old woman rested her head on the window as the plane neared Detroit and was startled awake by Ramamoorthy, the man in the middle seat next to her. His hand was down her unbuttoned pants, and her shirt was undone.

Ramamoorthy initially said he had taken Tylenol and fallen into a deep sleep. He said he hadn’t done anything besides learning from his wife seated in the aisle, that the woman was sleeping on his knees. According to a federal complaint, the woman said she woke up as Ramamoorthy was putting his “fingers in her (genitals) and vigorously moving them.” He stopped when she woke up, she said. The woman immediately alerted the flight attendants.


Samir Khullar

Samir Khullar, 42: Better known as Sugar Sammy, is a Canadian comedian, actor, writer and producer from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. His comedy routines are delivered in a mixture of fluent English, French, Punjabi and Hindi.

Khullar’s parents emigrated from northern India and his father sold juice out of the back of a truck before opening two convenience stores and his mother worked in a textile factory. He grew up in a basement apartment in Cote-des-Neiges, a gritty multicultural neighborhood in Montreal, and worked as a cashier at his father’s shops, which sold beef jerky and cigarettes.

Khullar was immersed in French at school. He and his younger brother spoke Punjabi and Hindi at home and learned English on the street and by watching TV. He decided to become a comedian when he first saw Eddie Murphy’s 1983 stand-up comedy television special “Delirious”. He settled on the nickname his female friends had given him while studying at McGill University: Sugar Sammy.

His first big break came in 2004 at the Montreal-based “Just for Laughs” festival, the largest international comedy festival in the world. He became co-creator in 2014 of a successful French television sitcom called “Ces gars-là,” (“Those Guys”) in the spirit Larry David’s “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and began crisscrossing the globe.

When he came up with the idea of doing a bilingual act, “You’re Gonna Rire” (“You’re Gonna Laugh”) in 2012 and produced it himself, the show became an overnight sensation. It transformed Khullar into a household name in Quebec and made him a millionaire.