Community Taking Strong Action; Coalition Calls on Sikhs to Be Vigilant
(New York, New York) March 8, 2011 – With great regret, the Sikh Coalition reports that two elderly turbaned Sikh men, Surinder Singh (65) and Gurmej Singh Atwal (78) were shot while taking an afternoon walk on Friday, March 4 in Elk Grove, California. Surinder Singh soon succumbed to his injuries and passed way. Gurmej Singh remains in critical condition. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of the victims.
|"Our community will continue to wear our turbans proudly"
Navi Kaur the granddaughter of Surinder Singh, 65, who died from his wounds.
Read more in the Sacramento Bee
Law enforcement officials have not yet identified the shooter(s). However, to their credit, both local police and the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of California recognize the possibility that a hate crime may have occurred. In a statement, the Police Chief of Elk Grove said:
"We have no evidence to indicate there was a hate or bias motivation for this crime; however, the obvious Sikh appearance of the men, including the traditional Dastar headwear and lack of any other apparent motive, increasingly raise that possibility."
In response to this tragedy, the Sikh Coalition has:
- Notified the United States Justice Department in Washington, DC of the shooting. Justice Department officials are aware of the matter and monitoring developments.
- Communicated with the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of California to state our concerns that a hate crime may have occurred. The United States Attorney has expressed a commitment to assisting local police as appropriate.
- Communicated directly with the California Attorney General’s Office to determine whether it has jurisdiction or the ability to assist local police in the investigation.
The Sikh Coalition will continue to stay in contact with the community as well as the aforementioned government entities as the investigation continues.
To their credit, the Sikh community in the local area is offering a $10,000 reward for information on the crime. The Council on American-Islamic Relations of Sacramento Valley has also offered a $5,000 reward for information related to the attacks. The Sikh Coalition thanks CAIR for this important demonstration of solidarity with our community. Finally, the Elk Grove Police Department has offered a $1,000 reward for information on the attacks. The Coalition also thanks the Elk Grove Police Department.
Know What to Do in Case of an Emergency
As always, the Sikh Coalition urges all Sikhs to practice their faith fearlessly.