MUMBAI — India’s Sikh community has expressed shock and called for more security at Sikh temples in the United States, following the killing of seven people by a gunman in Wisconsin.
From religious and political leaders in the Sikh community to Sikh protestors, expressions of dismay and anger poured in as news of the shooting reached India.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is also a Sikh, said in a statement that it was particularly painful that this “senseless act of violence should be targeted at a place of religious worship." Singh said he hopes American authorities will work to prevent the recurrence of such acts.
In the northern Punjab state - the only Indian state where Sikhs are a majority - religious leaders called for greater attention to the security of devotees.
Avtak Singh Makkar, who heads the main religious body of the Sikh community, the Sikh Shiromani Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee, says the incident has hurt the feelings of the community around the world.
“I appeal to the American government that legal action should be taken up immediately and ensure the safety of people from Sikh community," he pleaded. "They should take adequate measures to ensure security at such religious places.”
Dozens of slogan shouting protesters marched in the streets of Jammu in northern Indian, carrying banners calling for banning open sales of weapons in the United States.
Sikh political leaders called for an investigation to find out what led to the shooting. Indian Junior Foreign Minister Preneet Kaur, also a Sikh, is calling for justice.
“American President Obama has reached out and he has deplored the incident and said that Sikhs are an integral part of the multi-ethnic community that is in America and I would urge that they take fast and prompt action," he said. "We are waiting for the details and my heart goes out and my sympathies to all those who have lost their dear ones.”
Sikhs make up less than two percent of India’s population and are one of the country’s most prosperous communities.