Over four lakh Punjabis living in Ontario province of Canada are shocked and angered by the shooting in Milwaukee, US, about 750km from here, with everyone talking about the incident that occurred on Sunday. The Sikhs in Ontario are 23% of the total population.
The incident has also saddened the Punjabis, especially the Sikhs, and they maintained that their long weekend had been spoiled by the tragic news.
Shocked and angered over the shooting at Oak Creek gurdwara in Wisconsin, Mississauga's Dixie-Derry gurdwara president Jasjeet Singh Bhullar on Monday demanded a total ban on carrying of firearms by citizens in the United States.
Bhullar was reacting to Sunday's incident where an armed person barged into a gurdwara and started spraying bullets, killing seven innocent Sikhs.
"We are more worried as everyone could walk into the Sikhs' place of worship as our religion doesn't forbid anyone from a gurdwara," Bhullar said, adding they have decided to increase surveillance in and around Dixie-Derry gurdwara. This is the only step he could think of and has called an emergency meeting of the gurdwara body.
"Let's us stop all these hate crimes, seize firearms from everyone in the US and start the system of issuing arm licences," suggested Bhullar, giving the examples of India and Canada. "At least, when firearms are not easily available, one has to make effort to procure a firearm before planning such an incident. There have been a number of incidents when gunmen fired on innocents."
A large population in the US keeps firearms and the government reportedly has no clear policy for citizens to own a firearm.
Meanwhile, a constable in Peel regional police in Ontario, Amarpreet Singh Sohi, said there was need to educate people of all communities so that they knew about each other's religions, traditions, ethos and culture.
"No doubt the issue is unfortunate, one just can't kill a group of persons; it must be condemned. I think the Sikhs lack the approach to teach people about their religion," he said, adding that the gurdwaras should open awareness centres where everyone could walk in and clear his or her doubts. However, he rued , such centres don't exist in the gurdwaras.
Canada's Member Parliament from Brampton's Springdale constituency, Param Gill, himself a Punjabi, says the cases of "mistaken identity" involving the Sikhs have increased post 9/11, due to which the Sikhs are becoming victims of "hate crimes".
Gill also suggested there was need for the Sikh community to create awareness about their religion, traditions and ethos.