Gurudwara shooting: Badal, US AG to attend memorial services



Washington: The Obama Administration has deputed US Attorney General Eric Holder to deliver remarks at Friday's memorial service for the victims of Wisconsin Gurudwara shooting, which would also be attended by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Wisconsin Governor Scott walker.

Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential candidate, is sending one of his sons to be present at the memorial service said Kulwant Singh Dhaliwal, a trustee of the Sikh Temple where six Sikh worshippers were killed by a lone gunman on Sunday.

The Wisconsin Governor, Scott walker, who met victims' families yesterday, too would be attending the memorial service along with a host of federal and state officials and political leaders.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Prakash Singh Badal, and several of his Cabinet colleagues who are here on a private visit too would be attending the memorial service, Dr Singh said.

In preparation for today's memorial service, Dr Singh said thousands of people are expected to attend the event to honor those killed in the tragic incident.

"We are overwhelmed by the response," Dr Singh said. The memorial service is scheduled from 9 am to 11 am.

Yesterday, the Wisconsin Governor had an emotional meeting with the victims' families. "That was obviously private but very emotional," his spokesman said.

Walker also announced that from today to August 17, he would place a visitor's book in the state Capitol rotunda where visitors could write notes of condolence to the Sikh community.

The book will be kept for one week at the visitors desk in the Capitol and then delivered by the governor's office to the Sikh community in Oak Creek.

"Since the terrible acts of violence committed last Sunday at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, our entire state has been focusing on supporting the victims, their families, and the survivors of this tragedy and on helping the entire community and state to heal," he said.

"While we are still trying to determine exactly what motivated the killer, it's important to note discrimination and violence targeted toward a specific ethnic or religious group runs contrary to America's core ideals.

By placing it in the First Amendment to the US Constitution, our founding fathers placed special emphasis on protecting religious freedom for all Americans. We must show constant vigilance in defending our founding principles," Walker said in his weekly radio address.

Singh said it was "very moving to see all Americans, Sikh Americans, white Americans, black Americans, together to pay their respects to Americans who have fallen."

"Hate and the killer were not successful. He wanted to divide us and we came together," he said.

A speaker at the ceremony told the mourners, "we are just here to pray for the departed souls. Everyone has to depart from this world."

The women were joined by the men, who chanted prayers as white sheets that adorned the top of each casket were pulled back, revealing the bodies of the dead.

Pictures of each of those killed were placed on stands above the casket.

An American flag has been unfurled in the front of the gym, where the memorial was taking place, while a drummer kept up a soft, gentle beat.

The mourners honoured the memories of Satwant Singh Kaleka, 65, Paramjit Kaur, 41, Sita Singh, 41, Ranjit Singh, 49, Prakash Singh, 39, and Suveg Singh, 84.

Three people, including a police officer, were critically injured in the shooting.

Four of the six dead in the rampage were Indian nationals.

PTI