White supremacist shoots down 6 Sikhs in US gurdwara

Hero Satnam Singh Kaleka – Gurdwara president who died while tackling the gunman with a knife

New York: Five Sikh men and one woman were killed and three injured critically Sunday, August 5, when a white supremacist shooter opened gunfire at a gurdwara near Milwaukee in the Wisconsin state of America, shocking the country and India as well.

Distraught ladies being consoled

The gunman who was himself shot down by the police has been identified on Monday as Wade Michael Page, a 40-year-old army veteran with reported links to the white supremacist movement. He is said to be a “frustrated neo-Nazi who had been the leader of a racist white-power band,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights organization that monitors hate groups.

Wade Michael Page – a 40-year old army veteran linked to the white supremacist movement as reported by the police

While the motive of the shooter in targeting the Sikh community at their house of worship in Oak Creek town is not clear, it is certainly a hate crime and the US law authorities are investigating it as domestic terrorism.

Sikhs in America have been a  victim of mistaken identity (as Muslims) since 9/11 because of their turbans and long beards. The community has faced more than 700 attacks or bias-related incidents since then. The first person murdered after the 9/11 attacks was a Sikh, a gas station owner in Mesa, Arizona, named Balbir Singh Sodhi.

Estimates of the number of Sikhs living in America range from 200,000 to 500,000. Many left their homes in the agricultural Punjab province and arrived first in the West and Pacific Northwest in the late 1800s.

The controversial and lax gun laws in the US have led to huge number of killings routinely and occasionally a mass killing like this one or three weeks ago at a theatre showing the latest Batman film in Aurora, Colorado, which took the lives of 12 people and injuring many more.

President Obama sent his condolences and ordered American flags at official and public buildings to be flown at half mast, and said, “as we mourn this loss which took place at a house of worship, we are reminded how much our country has been enriched by Sikhs, who are a part of our broader American family.”

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh expressed deep shock and sadness over the shooting at a US gurudwara in which six people were killed. He hoped the US authorities would probe the attack and ensure that such “ghastly events” do not take place in future. The prime minister, who is a Sikh himself, also welcomed the statement by US President Barack Obama on the incident.

 

India’s External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna conveyed to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton India’s concerns over the gurdwara shooting.

Besides the policeman who took 9 bullets on his body at the shooting site before another officer tackled the gunman, another hero identified is Satnam Singh Kaleka, the president of the assaulted gurdwara. He stood up to the rampaging white supremacist with a knife and fought to the very end and suffered gunshot wounds while trying to take down the gunman.

Four of the six Sikh worshippers killed were Indian citizens, with one of them being a recent visitor from India, according to the Indian Embassy.

The Punjab government Tuesday said it would bear the entire expenditure of transporting the bodies of the victims. Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who was himself headed for Wisconsin for the wedding function of cabinet colleague Surjit Singh Rakhra’s niece, said the Punjab government would bear the cost of transporting the bodies to India for the last rites as a mark of respect.

 

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Posted by on Aug 7 2012. Filed under Community, Featured, Indian News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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