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Gurudwara shooting: We are concerned not scared, say Sikhs

Last updated on: August 6, 2012 10:22 IST

Gurudwara shooting: We are concerned not scared, say Sikhs

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Ritu Jha in California

The Sikh community in the United States has condemned the attack on the gurudwara in Wisconsin that left seven dead; some say it's a hate crime. Ritu Jha reports

Community people of Wisconsin as well from California condemned the shooting at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin on Sunday morning that left seven people dead including the gunman. 

Bob Chima, that said he was still not sure whether his brother -in-law Satwant Singh Kaleka, who is the president of the gurudwara, was shot. "We all are worried and trying to reach him," said a nervous Chima to rediff.com.

Gurcharan Grewal, president of the Sikh Religious Society of Wisconsin said, "The community is concerned about what happened but not scared." On being asked what could be the motive behind the shooting he said, what happened looks like a hate crime. "But we cannot rush to the judgment that this is a hate-crime," he added.

"It never happened in the past and this is a direct attack on the Sikh community," said Amar Singh who runs a grocery shop in Milwaukee. He sad, "This is crazy." Many people who are visitors to the newly built gurdwara in Oak Creek are his regular customers.

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Image: Officials gather near the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek in Wisconsin August 5 following a mass shooting inside and outside the gurudwara
Photographs: Allen Fredrickson/Reuters

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'Attack on gurudwara is a hate crime'

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Bachan Singh, who talked to rediff.com from the Oak Creek Gurdwara reiterated that this is a hate crime.

"The Sacramento Sikh Community, like our brother and sisters across the country, is dismayed to learn of the horrible tragedy unfolding in the Milwaukee area," said Darshan Mundy, public information officer of the Sacramento Sikh Temple.

"The Sikh community has been the subject of many attacks over the years and since 9/11. At times like this, we must rely on our faith and join hands as a community to deal with this tragedy."


Image: A distraught women is helped to a car outside of the Sikh temple in Oak Creek
Photographs: Tom Lynn/Reuters

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'Sikhs under attack in US particularly since 9/11'

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"Sikhs across the country mourn with the families that have lost their loved ones in the Milwaukee area Sikh Temple tragedy," said Amar Shergill, a local attorney and spokesperson for the American Sikh Political Action Committee.

"This is not the first time that our community has been forced to deal with assaults and murderous attacks, particularly since 9/11. After the murder of two Sikh grandfathers in Elk Grove, we were blessed to receive support from many local religious communities and the community at large. We know that this latest tragedy is not a representative of the true nature of our country," he added.



Image: People light candles during a vigil at Cathedral Square to honor victims of Oak Creek in downtown Milwaukee after the gurudwara shooting
Photographs: Tom Lynn/Reuters

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'Possibility of internal politics in this shooting'

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American Sikh PAC is a state-registered political action committee. The PAC encourages Sikhs to take an active role in the public and civic affairs of California.

Satnam Singh Chahal, president and Dalwinder Singh Dhoot, chairman of North American Punjabi Association strongly condemned the shooting. Sending the condolence message to the victim families said that law enforcement agencies failed to protect the lives and properties of the Sikh community in the US.

He also said that though the shooting looks like hate crime but it is too early to comment. "There could be a possibility of internal politics in this shooting," believes Chahal.

He said that there are possibilities that this shooting must be done to stop coming Punjab politicians to attend the royal wedding in the family of Darshan Singh Dhaliwal's daughter in Wisconsin, which is scheduled to take place on August 11. Approximately 100 bureaucrats and politicians including Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Deputy Chief Minister S Sukhbir Singh Badal are expected to attend this wedding in Milwaukee.

Talking to rediff.com, Dhaliwal, one of the prominent people involved with the Oak Creek gurudwara, said it is true ministers will be coming to attend the wedding. "I am not sure what to say now after the incident," said Dhaliwal. Though he says it wasn't an internal dispute.


Image: A woman prays near a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin
Photographs: Allen Fredrickson/Reuters

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