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India in touch with US over gurudwara killing

By The Assam Tribune

WASHINGTON/NEW DELHI, Aug 6 (IANS): India has termed as "shocking" and "deplorable" the shooting in a gurudwara in Wisconsin Sunday in which six people were killed and said it is in touch with the US authorities.

Messages of condemnation and sympathy poured in from community organisations and US political leaders, including President Barack Obama.

Hours after the shooting in a gurdwara in the Oak Creek suburb of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Indian Embassy issued a statement saying it is "seized of the situation and has been in touch with the National Security Council".

In New Delhi, Minister of State for External Affairs Preneet Kaur said Ambassador Nirupama Rao had sent a special officer to Wisconsin.

The minister also said the security of gurdwaras and other religious places of communities in the US should be taken care of.

"It is a very shocking and tragic incident that has taken place, which is deplorable," Kaur told a television channel.

"We have been in touch with the government and our ambassador there Nirupama Rao has sent a special officer from Washington to Wisconsin, and also the consul general in Chicago is taking care," she added.

Kaur also said the US has assured full investigation of the incident.

"The American government has reached out and we are in touch with the law officers there. We hope that the perpetrators would be brought to book," she added.

Meanwhile, President Barack Obama, his Republican challenger Mitt Romney and several national and political leaders issued statements of condolence and support.

"Our hearts go out to the victims and their families, as we all struggle to comprehend the evil that begets this terrible violence," Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said in a statement issued by his office.

Joe Crowley, a seven-term Democrat member of US Congress from a New York district including sections of Queens and the Bronx, offered condolences and said: "Sikh-Americans are too often the victims of intolerance and hate. Today we all grieve for those lost in this tragic event."

State Representative Josh Zepnick said many members of the Milwaukee area's Sikh community are among his constituents and described himself as being "torn to shreds" by the attack.

State Representative Mark Honadel, whose district includes the temple, called the attack "craziness".

The Sikh Coalition, the largest Sikh American civil rights organisation in the US, said it has been in touch with both the FBI's Civil Rights Division and the White House and both have promised to continue to be in touch with its staff as they monitor the situation closely.

With over 25 million followers worldwide, Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world, with over 700,000 followers in the US, the coalition said.

The Sikh American Legal Defence and Education Fund said: "Houses of worship, like the gurdwara, are places of peace. Attacks at any of the nation's houses of worship must be condemned by all Americans."

The American branch of the World Sikh Council said Sunday was "a troubling day, not only for Sikh-Americans, but also for all Americans".

"�this event serves as a tragic reminder of violence in the form of hate crimes that Sikhs and many members of the South Asian community have frequently endured since Sep 11, 2001," said South Asian Americans Leading Together, a coalition of 40 South Asian organisations.

Sikhs for Justice, a US based human rights advocacy group, announced a $10,000 gallantry award for the Wisconsin officer who risked his life to save Sikh worshippers in the shootout.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, America's largest Muslim community organisation, condemning "this senseless act of violence", said that American Muslims "stand with their Sikh brothers and sisters in this time of crisis and loss".

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