Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh led the Punjabi community in offering prayers in the Golden Temple complex here on Friday in memory of the six Sikhs who were killed by an alleged racist in a gurdwara in Oak Creek, Milwaukee in the US state of Wisconsin on August 5.
People from different walks of life, including officials from the US Embassy in Delhi, prayed for the departed at Manji Sahib Dewan Hall, and wished the injured a speedy recovery.
The prayer meeting sent out a clear cut message to the world community that there was a dire need to educate the citizens of all nations about the separate identity of the Sikhs so that members of the community do not again become targets of hate crime.
The six victims of the tragedy-Satwant Singh Kaleke, Paramjit Kaur, SS Khattra, Prakash Singh and brothers Ranjit Singh and Sita Singh-were remembered by name by the priest who performed the 'ardas'.
In his brief speech at the end of the memorial service, Giani Gurbachan Singh said the identity of the Sikhs must not just be confined to the boundaries of gurdwaras. "They must perform community services where ever they reside so that they get recognition for themselves and for their community."
Appreciating the US administration, the jathedar said, "In this hour of crisis the entire nation came forward to express its solidarity with the Sikh community."
Honour for brave police officer
On the occasion, Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Avtar Singh Makkar announced that Satwant Singh Kaleke, who displayed bravery of the highest order while confronting the gunman with a knife, will be honoured by the SGPC with a gold medal and citation. Likewise police officer Lt Brian Murphy, who was the first to confront the gunman outside the gurdwara, will also be presented with a gold medal and a citation.
"We will be approaching the family of Murphy and if they can come here we will honour the officer here. However, if he is unable to make it then we can go over to Wisconsin," said Makkar.
Chad Thornberry, first secretary (political) at the US Embassy, assured Makkar that contact will be established with Murphy and his family members. "We will get him through to you," he added.
Makkar too was all praise for the US administration particularly President Barack Obama for the support he had shown for the Sikh community. He said he had appealed to US ambassador Nancy Powell to ensure the security of Sikhs living in that country.
Assurance by US official
Thornberry in his address assured the Sikhs that the US government will "go deep into the incident and will dig up all to find out the motive behind the crime".
He said the Sikh community in his country was very much a part of the US society and had contributed immensely to the development of the US.
"We hope that the Sikh community will recover from this tragic incident and will move on," he added.
A Sukesh, advisor, political affairs at the US Embassy, was also present. Later Thornberry paid obeisance at the Golden Temple and was also honoured by the SGPC.