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Dark cloud of White supremacism: US church shooting revives 2012 Wisconsin gurdwara attack memories

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Officials gather near the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek in Wisconsin August 5, 2012 following a mass shooting inside and outside the Sikh Temple. A shooting during Sunday services at a Sikh temple left at least seven people dead, including a gunman, and at least three critically wounded, police and hospital officials said. REUTERS/Allen Fredrickson (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW CIVIL UNREST)
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Washington: The shooting in a historic US church on Wednesday night has come to haunt those who lost their dear ones in a similar traumatic attack about three years ago by a White supremacist in a Wisconsin state gurdwara, killing six Indian-origin people.

“It’s very similar to what happened in Oak Creek,” FOX6 News quoted Amar Kaleka, who lost his father in the Sikh temple shooting, as saying.

On August 5, 2012, Wade Page entered the Sikh temple of Wisconsin and began shooting indiscriminately. He killed six worshipers, including Satwant Singh Kaleka, who was the temple president. Page later committed suicide after a police officer shot him in the stomach.

All those killed were members of the Sikh community.

“Your heart sinks. It just — it’s heartbroken for all those people, because you’ve lived it. You know that their life is never gonna be the same,” Kaleka said.

The US law enforcement authorities have started investigating the shooting at Charleston city’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, which claimed nine lives, as a hate crime. The church is one of the oldest in the US, and was founded in 1816.

“I do believe this is a hate crime,” US media quoted Charleston police chief Greg Mulle as saying after the shooting.

“You feel for them, and you want to reach out and hug them, and you want to make sure that they’re okay,” Kaleka said, referring to the shocked Charleston community and victims’ kin.

The uncanny similarity between the Oak Creek and Charleston shootings was that in both the cases the shooting took place when people were offering prayers.

“I’m hoping to God that we can forgive — we can get past the trauma that this man has caused and work on the deeper issues of socio-economics or of racial tension that has long been there,” Kaleka said.

Kaleka is planning to visit Charleston to reach out to the community and promote his organisation Serve2Unite, which has the motto of “Uniting to defy hate and build peace through creativity and service”.

“What I’m gonna do is have conversations with community leaders, help where I can help, volunteer where I can volunteer, and then I’ll have conversations with certain families that want to have those conversations,” he said.

Although the suspect behind the Charleston shooting, 21-year-old Dylann Storm Roof, has been arrested, the incident has once again stirred up the debate on gun laws in the US.

In a statement, President Barack Obama on Thursday said the US must eventually reckon with all too frequent mass shootings and gun violence.

“Now is a time for mourning and healing… But let’s be clear. At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence doesn’t happen in other advanced countries. It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency,” he said. (IANS)

 

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In Pakistan, Hindus don’t get even a ‘Crematorium:’ Will you believe that?

There are a lot of Hindu family residing all over Pakistan and still, there are very few cremation grounds where their last rites can be performed in that area

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Not having a crematorium in Peshawar is just one of the woes that the minority communities are facing since long. Wikimedia Commons
Not having a crematorium in Peshawar is just one of the woes that the minority communities are facing since long. Wikimedia Commons
  • Due to the lack of cremation grounds, some Hindus and Sikhs travel hundreds of kilometres just to perform the last rites as per their religious practices
  • As per reports, there were about 12 cremation grounds before Independence
  • Unfortunately, Hindu’s and Sikh’s have to face the same problem in the neighbouring state as well, that is Afghanistan

Death is said to be a great leveller. But the tragedy struck to some section of society in Muslim-dominated Pakistan is altogether different.

Due to the lack of cremation grounds, some Hindus and Sikhs travel hundreds of kilometres just to perform the last rites as per their religious practices. People who can’t even afford to travel, they have no option but to bury the mortal remains of their near and dear ones.

As per reports, there were about 12 cremation grounds before Independence. But with the passage of time, they vanished in the thin air of the terror-torn nation. Even in areas lying in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where about 35,000 Hindus and Sikhs live, the cremation grounds are also rare.

Also Read: Today’s Social Issues and their Answers to Children

The law of the land is non-existent for the minorities communities like Hindu’s and Sikh’s. Without taking no-objection certificate, people from these communities can’t move an inch even. The grief-stricken families have to wait for the clearances, as they are left with no other option.

People are forced to travel long distances to cremate their relatives from the areas like Swat Bannu, Kohat, Malakand etc. The cost to travel such long distances ranges from Rs 40,000 to Rs 70,000 and on the top of it, the fear of robbery during these travels cannot be ruled out. Not all the Hindu families can afford to perform the last rites in the manner they want.

Unfortunately, Hindu’s and Sikh’s have to face the same problem in the neighbouring state as well, that is Afghanistan. The minority communities are compelled to bury the dead because cremation grounds are vanishing fast in Pakistan.

Although, Pakistan boats that the minority communities enjoy equal rights in their country, the ground reality seems to be completely different. Wikimedia Commons
Although, Pakistan boats that the minority communities enjoy equal rights in their country, the ground reality seems to be completely different. Wikimedia Commons

Although, the administration of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has allowed the minorities communities to perform cremation near temples. But most of the temples are built on the agricultural lands and commercial areas, which have already been encroached upon by land mafia.

There are a lot of Hindu family residing in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and still, there are very few cremation grounds where their last rites can be performed in that area.

Although, Pakistan boats that the minority communities enjoy equal rights in their country, the ground reality seems to be completely different. Not having a crematorium in Peshawar is just one of the woes that the minority communities are facing since long.


After much of the protests, finally, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has started building the facility from the chief minister’s fund, as per some government sources.

There are almost 50,000 Sikhs and Hindus in Peshawar. And unfortunately, due to lack of proper facilities, people over there are also facing the same situation what others are facing in areas like Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Also Read: 7 new-age social issues in India that need a check

To expect some kind of generosity from the war-torn state like Pakistan is out of the way. Instead of spending extravagantly on the military expansion, Pakistan should come forward and full-fill the basic amenities for the citizen of its country. It’s the people who make the country and not the other way round.