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Massacre in US: Gurdwara president one of the victims

August 06, 2012 23:21 IST

Two women and four men lost their lives in the shooting on Sunday at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin. Among the deceased was Satwant Singh Kaleka, the president of the gurdwara, his brother-in-law Bob Chima told

Kaleka was shot in chest and stomach. "Until now we thought he is in critical condition and would survive. The first news that we heard was he was shot from back, and we were not given any clear information due to chaos. But this is so sad," said Chima.

Darshan Singh Dhaliwal, the man who helped built the Oak Creek gurdwara, told, "We are in talks with the police and trying to get the body of Kaleka. The funeral timing has not yet been decided."

According to the police, the shooter was a US army veteran identified as Wade Michael Page, 40.

Gurcharan Singh, a priest at a gurdwara in Brookfield, said that they police personnel are on guard outside their temple. "We will have this for some time. We need security. It's getting scary," he said.

Jasjit Singh Kang, president of the Punjabi American Heritage Society in Yuba city, said, "It is with shock and sadness that we view and continue to learn of the tragic events which unfolded Sunday."

Kang said all the gurdwaras are open to everyone without reservation or discrimination and they exist to serve as a sanctuary of peace and meditation for those of the Sikh faith and for anyone else who chooses to enter and attend.

For the gurdwara to be the site of such senseless violence is both tragic and sobering, he said, adding, "Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims and their families. The entire Sikh community stands ready to assist those in the Oak Creek community in any way that we can".

Ritu Jha in California