Expressing shock and dismay over the attack on innocents Sikhs at a Wisconsin gurdwara, Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Avtar Singh Makkar have sought a thorough inquiry from the US administration to bring out the motive behind this heinous crime.
“The incident taking place in the world’s oldest democratic nation has shocked the Sikhs world over. The perpetrator(s) of the crime should be immediately arrested and their motive for targeting members of the community should be made public,” they said in separate statements released here on Monday, while also appealing to the entire community to remain peaceful and not get instigated.
Conveying his condolences to the bereaved families and praying for the speedy recovery of the injured, Makkar announced the formation of a three-member committee that will go to the US to probe the matter and find out reasons for the crime. The committee members are Surinder Singh Bhuleratha, Paramjit Singh Khalsa and Amarjit Singh Chawla. The latter is currently in the US and has been asked by Makkar to rush to Oak Creek, Milwaukee.
Makkar, who also addressed the media, stated that following the directions of the Akal Takht, he would go to Delhi to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. He would also meet external affairs minister SM Krishna and the US Ambassador to India.
“We appeal to the PM to take up the matter with US President Barack Obama as after this crime, the security of Sikhs in the US is of paramount importance,” he said.
Makkar also called upon the US administration to review the security at all Sikh shrines in the country to prevent a repeat of such incidents. He also asked Sikhs residing abroad to make effective arrangements for securing gurdwaras in their respective countries.
Asked about the possible reasons for the crime, Makkar said, “It could be a hate crime. Sikhs, by nature, are very progressive and have contributed to the progress and development of the US. Perhaps there are elements in the US who do not take a liking to this progressive nature of the community.”
Pointing out that two of the deceased in the gurdwara attack were Sikh preachers from Delhi, Makkar announced a grant of Rs 2 lakh each for their families. He also assured that suitable compensation would be paid to families of other deceased or the injured.
He said an ‘akhand path’ would be held at Manji Sahib in the Golden Temple complex on August 8 in memory of the deceased. The ‘bhog’ of ‘akhand path’ would be performed on August 10. Makkar appealed to all religious and social Sikh organisations to hold similar prayers to pay homage to the victims.
Giani Gurbachan Singh also asked Sikhs to make arrangements for the security of their shrines. He appealed to all to remain calm and pray for the departed souls.
Radical Sikh groups, including the Dal Khalsa, have also expressed shock over the incident. “American Sikhs are God-fearing people and the attack on them, and that too at a time when they were worshiping, is something that needs to be taken seriously,” said Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwarpal Singh, while appealing to the US government and civil society to take effective measures to stop the re-occurrence of such criminal attacks against Sikhs.
The Khalsa College Governing Council also condoled the killing of US Sikhs and said there was a dire need for initiating a worldwide campaign on Sikh identity.