Sikh community in mourning as 4 members shot dead in US

Posted by News Express | 18 April 2021 | 419 times

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This week’s deadly mass shooting at a FedEx Ground facility in Indianapolis struck deeply into the area’s Sikh community after it suffered the loss of four members in the bloody onslaught.

“Our community has a long road of healing physically, mentally and spiritually to recover from this tragedy,” Maninder Singh Walia, a member of the Sikh community in Indianapolis, told CNN on Friday evening.

Eight people were killed and several others wounded Thursday night when a former FedEx employee opened fire at a facility near Indianapolis’ main airport before taking his own life. Investigators are still trying to determine the motive behind the shooting.

Friday evening, Indianapolis police released the names of the eight deceased victims. They are: Matthew R. Alexander, 32; Samaria Blackwell, 19; Amarjeet Johal, 66; Jasvinder Kaur, 50; Jaswinder Singh, 68; Amarjit Sekhon, 48; Karli Smith, 19; and John Weisert, 74.

Four of the eight killed were Sikh, Walia said.

The community has grown in Indiana in recent years, he said. When he moved to the area in 1999, about 50 Sikh families were there. Hundreds more families have arrived since then, with many Sikhs having come to Indianapolis for economic opportunity and good schools, Walia said.

The Sikh Coalition, a US-based advocacy organization, said that Indiana’s first gurdwara – or Sikh house of worship – was established in 1999. The state now has 10 gurdwaras and about 8,000 to 10,000 Sikh Americans, the coalition said.

“It’s a tragedy for all of us and we are all family,” Walia said. “We’re neighbors. We’ll do anything we can to help our city heal in the weeks and months ahead. It’s not like it's going to go away.”

While the shooter’s motive isn’t yet known, “he targeted a facility known to be heavily populated by Sikh employees, and the attack is traumatic for our community as we continue to face senseless violence,” said Satjeet Kaur, executive director of the Sikh Coalition.

That sentiment was echoed in a letter to the Biden administration Saturday, in which the Sikh Coalition wrote, “It was no accident that the shooter targeted this particular FedEx facility where he had worked and knew was overwhelmingly staffed by Sikhs.”

“The people that were shot and killed were not random targets,” the coalition said. “As such, we implore the Administration to ensure that this shooting is not simply dismissed by the media or law enforcement and acknowledge what it is – a deliberate act intended to inflict the most harm against diverse Americans.”

The Sikh faith was founded in India’s Punjab region. India’s external affairs minister, S. Jaishankar, tweeted he was “deeply shocked” by Thursday’s shooting, and that India’s consulate in Chicago was in touch with Indianapolis’ mayor and local authorities.

“Will render all possible assistance,” Jaishankar also tweeted.

The attack marks at least the 45th mass shooting in the US since the Atlanta-area spa shootings March 16. CNN considers an incident to be a mass shooting if four or more people, excluding the gunman, are wounded or killed by gunfire.

It is the United States’ deadliest shooting since 10 people were killed March 22 at a grocery store in Boulder, Colorado. (CNN)

•PHOTO: Members of the Sikh Coalition gather at the Sikh Satsang of Indianapolis on Saturday, April 17, to formulate the group’s response to the shooting at a FedEx facility that claimed the lives of four members of the Sikh community

Source: News Express

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