Indian Sikhs, led by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, voiced shock and anger Monday at the killing of worshippers at a Sikh temple in the US, with some suggesting American Muslims may have been the intended target.
In Sunday’s attack, a gunman shot worshippers at a suburban Sikh temple in Wisconsin, in the mid-western United States, killing at least six people before he was shot dead by police.
According to religious tradition, Sikh Indians wear turbans to cover their uncut hair and sport long beards.
In the United States they have often been confused with Muslims and targeted by anti-Islam activists, particularly after the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Leading Sikh politicians in India said the temple shooting in Wisconsin may have been part of that pattern.
At Sikhdom’s holiest shrine, the Golden Temple in the northern Indian city of Amritsar, the atmosphere was tense and sombre as shocked Sikh devotees went to offer their prayers, amid the daily influx of tourists.
In the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, which has traditionally had a large Sikh community, Sikh protesters blocked a national highway and brandished banners calling for stronger US gun laws.
Manjit Singh, president of a Delhi-based Sikh party, said a peaceful gathering would be held later today outside the US embassy in New Delhi as a demonstration of solidarity with the victims.
US ambassador Nancy Powell visited New Delhi’s largest Sikh temple to show solidarity with the grieving community over what she described as “this ghastly act of violence”.