Calls for probe into Sikh singer’s killing in US

Published March 3, 2024
Sikh kirtan singer (ragi) Raj Singh was shot dead by unknown assailants outside a gurdwara in US. — photo courtesy X
Sikh kirtan singer (ragi) Raj Singh was shot dead by unknown assailants outside a gurdwara in US. — photo courtesy X

WASHINGTON: A Sikh musician (ragi) was shot dead outside a gurdwara in the US city of Selma on Feb 23, making it the second killing of an Indian-origin person in less than a month.

Indian media reported this week that Raj Singh, also known as Goldy, was shot dead outside a gurdwara in Selma, a city in the southern US state of Alabama.

However, it was later emerged that the shooting actually took place in another city of the same name in the state of California.

A Sikh website, Sikh Vox, called the murder “a chilling incident that has sent shockwaves through the Sikh community.”

Raj Singh, 29, “fell victim to what is suspected to be a hate-fueled attack outside the Selma gurdwara,” the website added.

According to reports, Mr Singh, hailing from Tanda Sahuwala village in Bijnor district of India’s Uttar Pradesh state, was part of a musical group and had been living in the US for one and a half years.

While Raj’s family members have urged the authorities to also look into racial or religious motives for the murder, Selma police have stated that there had been no indication of it being a hate crime.

Selma police have said that the shooting was linked to a car-jacking attempt and that it is being investigated.

In a statement, the police department said the search for suspect or suspects is underway and sought information from public.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has also supported the family’s demand.

“[B]ecause this shooting occurred near a house of worship, we urge state and federal law enforcement authorities to investigate this crime with the possibility of a bias motive in mind,” CAIR’s Communications Director Ibraham Hooper said in a statement.

The news of Raj’s demise has left the family in a state of shock and anguish.

“We were informed about the incident by relatives … We have reached out to the gurdwara committee for more information, and they are helping us. We have also appealed to our government for justice and the arrest of the killers,” Gurdeep Singh, the victim’s brother-in-law, told Times of India.

According to the Indian media, the victim was the only breadwinner of his family, and his father had died five years ago.

Days before Raj Singh was gunned down, Pravin Raojibhai Patel, a 76-year-old motel owner of Indian origin, was shot dead following an altercation with a customer over a room rental in Alabama on Feb 15.

The murder has again put the spotlight on the killings of the Sikh diaspora overseas.

In September 2023, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau accused Indian agents of being involved in the murder of a Sikh separatist leader, Hardeep Singh Nijjar, Reuters reported.

Mr Nijjar, 45, was shot dead outside a gurdwara on June 18 in Surrey, a suburb in Vancouver, three years after India had designated him as a “terrorist”.

Later that year, the US thwarted a plot to kill a Sikh separatist and warned India over concerns that the government in New Delhi was involved.

Published in Dawn, March 3rd, 2024

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