Dallas, Texas, USA – On August 10th, a man walked into Gurdwara Singh Sabha of North Texas claiming to be an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) officer there to do an audit. He confronted one of the gurdwara members, and accused the gurdwara of not having paid its taxes. He said the IRS would be raiding the gurdwara very soon, and started to walk out of the building towards the parking lot. A member of the congregation, Mr. Narinder Singh Sekhon, followed him and asked him why he was there. Sekhon stated, "As I approached the perpetrator, he called me, and our community, terrorists and said you have 48 hours to leave the country or I will finish you." Threatening and yelling racial slurs, he then drove off the gurdwara premises. The man's picture and license plate number have been recorded and reported to the authorities.
UNITED SIKHS, along with the gurdwara management committee is working with local law enforcement, the FBI, Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Justice, Community Relations Service to investigate this act of racism and hate. Mr. Surinder Singh Gill, a member of the Board of Directors at Gurdwara Singh Sabha commented on this incident stating, "We will continue to assist law enforcement with their investigations and work on this until complete justice is served." gurdwara committee member, Mr. Harjeet Singh Hothi, added "I request the Sikh community to be vigilant. This individual claimed to be an IRS agent, used offensive language, and tried to intimidate us and threatened us."
This incident occurred right after the two year anniversary of the Oak Creek, Wisconsin Gurdwara massacre. Six Sikhs lost their lives after a white supremacist opened fire at the congregation. Since then, Sikhs across the country have been vigilant during large gatherings and have worked with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to better secure our gurdwaras. A prime example of this is the State of New Jersey where UNITED SIKHS worked with local gurdwaras and the New Jersey Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness (NJOHSP) to develop security protocols for congregations. Along with protocols, NJOHSP identified and trained congregation members on how to identify suspicious activity and other security related issues concerning the gurdwara.
Similar incidents have recently occurred in New York City. A week ago, Dr. Jaspreet Singh Batra was first verbally abused, called a 'terrorist' and then attacked by a group of ten teenagers in Roosevelt Island. Dr Batra was walking with his mother at the time to have dinner. Earlier, in Queens, NY, Mr. Sandeep Singh was called racial slurs, told to "go back to his country" and then run over by a truck driven by the perpetrator. Sandeep was dragged almost 60 feet with the truck after being mowed over, but miraculously survived. With all of these incidents occurring around the same time, the Sikh community at large is grieving and remains on high alert.
Our efforts for justice will continue as we work with the Gurdwara Singh Sabha of North Texas to assure this case is being properly investigated. Mr. Harvinder Singh Randhawa, another member of the gurdwara's Board of Directors, stated: "We appreciate UNITED SIKHS efforts in assisting the sangat in this trying time and look forward to collaborating further."
UNITED SIKHS urges Sikh communities across the nation to remain vigilant and report any kind of suspicious activity to local law enforcement. We also encourage installation of cameras on gurdwara premises and parking lots to help capture such incidents to better assist law enforcement track perpetrators.
Staff Attorney, International Civil and Human Rights Advocacy (ICHRA)
Tel: (646) 688-3525