Two Indian-Americans running a grocery store in the state of Indiana have been shot dead by masked men, sending shock waves among the Sikh community in the United States. The victims, identified as 55-year-old Jagtar Singh Bhatti and 20-year-old Pawan Preet Singh, were originally from Punjab.
Two masked men shot and killed Jagtar Singh, the owner of the store, and Pawan Preet, his employee, at Middlebury Street in the northern Indiana city of Elkhart on Thursday.
Jagtar Singh was from Preet Nagar in Jalandhar and Pawan Preet belonged to Munnan village in Hoshiarpur. Condemning the deadly attack during the robbery attempt, Satnam Singh Chahal, executive director of North American Punjabi Association, said due to the growing killings, the Sikh Community is living under the shadow of fear and insecurity.
Chahal said Jagtar Singh was running his grocery shop for the last seven years and was living with Palwinder Singh Bhatti. According to another store employee Bill Sinclair, he was in the store's kitchen when he heard a noise like the pop of a firecracker. Two girls standing outside told him that two men in masks ran from the store, and when he went inside, he saw Jagtar Singh and Pawan Preet had been shot.
The NAPA in a statement urged the US government to leave no stone unturned to take all necessary measures to protect the lives and property of non-resident Indians. Meanwhile, a pal of gloom descended in Preet Nagar, Sodal Road, Jalandhar after the elder son of Jagtar Singh, Palwinder, conveyed the news to the family.
The deceased's family members said at first assailants fired at Pawan Preet and when Jagtar Singh tried to resist them, they also fired at him, killing both on the spot.
Jagtar Singh's brother, Inder Mohan Singh Bhatti, said Dalwinder Singh, the younger son of Jagtar Singh, will go to the US to bring the body home. He said that his brother had gone to the US around 14 years ago where he initially worked as a carpenter in New York.
A similar scene was witnessed in Munnan village in Hoshiarpur district as the news of tragic death of Pawan Preet reached. Pawan Preet had left for foreign shores in 2009 for better prospects.
"We got to know about the awful incident from a youth of nearby Talwandi Dadian village who also works in Indiana," said Manjit Kaur. She said her husband Balwinder Singh had been informed in Italy and only he would be able to tell how and when Pawan Preet's body comes home.