‘DotBusters’ victim looks back

Now in Oklahoma; racial attack nearly killed JC resident in 1987

Kaushal Saran, 52, currently resides in Norman, Okla. – over 1,300 miles away from his former hometown of Jersey City, and over 20 years removed from the incident that changed his life forever.
Saran, previously known as Sharan, was a 30-year-old physician who walked out of an office building on Central Avenue and Ferry Street in the Jersey City Heights on the morning of Sept. 24, 1987 and was beaten with a baseball bat by a group of men.
The unprovoked attack left Saran in a partial coma for over a week with severe damage to his skill and brain, impacting his long-term and short-term memory to this day.
Saran was a victim of one of a series of racially motivated attacks carried out against residents of Asian Indian descent in Jersey City by a loosely-knit, anonymous group calling themselves “The Dotbusters,” which made headlines around the world.
The “dot” refers to the cosmetic dot or bindi that Indian women wear on their foreheads out of tradition.
The most famous of those attacks occurred three days after Saran’s beating when Navroze Mody, also 30, was beaten to death on a Hoboken street in a confrontation with a group of teenagers.


“I look back and I think …we did everything, but it didn’t work out.” — Kaushal Saran

In September 1992, Thomas Kozak, Martin Ricciardi, and Mark Evangelista were brought to trial on federal civil rights charges in connection with the attack on Sharan. However, the three were acquitted of the charges in two separate trials in 1993. Saran couldn’t help his cause, because he testified at both trials that he couldn’t remember the incident.
“I look back and I think …we did everything, but it didn’t work out,” Saran said last week.

Still trying

Saran came to the United States with a medical degree from his native India in 1983 looking to find success tending to American patients.
He passed a first round of tests required for an American medical degree and landed a residency at a Brooklyn hospital, while living with his brother in Jersey City.
While he cannot remember the attack that put him in a coma, Saran says he had flashbacks when he was in the hospital recovering. He said he had to recall those flashbacks during the federal trial, but they were like “a dream.”
Saran also recalled there were bias incidents against Indians in Jersey City at the time, but doesn’t remember feeling threatened while living there.
After the attack, he moved away – first to California, then to Queens, N.Y. in hopes of finishing his exams and becoming a regular doctor.
Now in 2009, he is currently unemployed receiving disability benefits, living with his wife and daughter and still trying to pursue a career in medicine.
He has a master’s degree in public health from the University of Oklahoma and most recently worked as a medical consultant for a company that worked with the Oklahoma Health Care Authority.
But Saran admits he has never been able to keep a job for any prolonged period of time due to his impaired memory. He has stopped taking another round of licensing exams that would allow him to practice medicine in this country.
“After the injury, I tried taking the exam other times and failed,” he said. “By 2000, I was told I had to take the exams all over again, and I just couldn’t do it.”
Over the years, Saran said he managed to keep legal documents from the trial and put them in storage. But he also has lost some articles and other documents during his various moves.
He also credits the woman in his life for helping him not to live in the past.
“Thanks to my wife, as she has been keeping up with me for the last 10 years and still going,” Saran said. “Although I was very up front about [the attack] before the marriage, she continues loving me and my daughter.”

Ricardo Kaulessar can be reached at rkaulessar@hudsonrreporter.com.

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