US Sikh groups rally to ensure safety of community
Washington: Devastated by the killing of six Sikh worshippers at a gurdwara in Wisconsin, the 700,000-strong Sikh community in the US has rallied round to offer succour and seek reassurances of safety from the authorities.
United Sikhs, a UN affiliated non-profit group, has started emergency response action and set up a task force to work with law enforcement agencies to ensure that the Sikh community is reassured of its safety.
It has also called on the interfaith community to show solidarity by holding prayer vigils in places of worship.
Rajwant Singh, chairman of the Sikh Council on Religion and Education, put the onus on politicians, media, academics and non-profit leaders to educate Americans about diverse groups and act "to lessen this kind of rage".
Sikhs, growing up in the US feel as if they don't belong in this country after incidents such as this, he said.
"Everybody should feel at home," Rajwant Singh said. "This nation belongs to everyone", he said, appealing for calm.
The council has identified the victims as: Seeta Singh (Granthi), Parkash Singh (Granthi), Ranjit Singh (hymn singer), Satwant Singh Kaleka, president of the gurdwara, Subegh Singh, Parmjit Kaur Toor, Punjab Singh and Santokh Singh. The last two are in critical condition.
There are an estimated 2,500 to 3,000 Sikh families in the Milwaukee area which has two gurdwaras. The Wisconsin gurdwara was founded in October 1997 with a community of 20 to 25 families.
It has 350 to 400 people in its congregation and has grown rapidly. The other gurdwara is in Brookfield, Wisconsin, around 50 km away in the northern suburbs of Milwaukee.