WASHINGTON: In an apparent hate crime, a new gurdwara in the US state of California has been defaced with a swastika graffiti.
Police officials took statements from the Granthi (priest) of Guru Maneyo Granth Gurdwara Sahib in Orangevale, where the incident took place. On Monday morning, a day after the Sikh temple was officially inaugurated, people saw the words "White Power" and a swastika sign graffitied on the property.
The graffiti was removed later on the day. "I strongly condemn the racist graffiti spray painted at a Sikh house of worship in Orangevale," Indian-American Congressman Ami Bara said. He said California's seventh congressional district, in which Orangevale is located, has a community of diversity and inclusion, and Sikhs are an integral part of it.
Dimple Kaur Bhullar from the Guru Maneyo Granth Gurdwara Sahib Sangat said, "We began services as of mid-December 2019, the weekend of January 10-12 we had our official Grand Opening with Bhai Sahib Harjinder Singh Ji Sri Nagarwale, without any problems. There was no negativity before this."
In a statement, the Sikh American Legal Defence and Education Fund, the oldest civil rights and advocacy organisation of the community, condemned the defacement of the gurdwara.
In an interview to local Sacramento Bee, Harbans Singh Sraon described the action as "ignorant" and committed by someone who doesn't know or care to learn anything about who they are. "If they knew what Sikhism is, they wouldn't do it. That person in my opinion was ignorant. I wouldn't use any other words. Once they know us, they will love us. But it's a matter of getting together," he said.
The Sacramento County Sheriff's Department is investigating the vandalism as a hate crime, the CNN reported. California has one of the largest populations of Sikhs in the US. The Yuba City, which is about an hour's drive away from Orangevale, draws around 100,000 people for its annual Nagar Kirtan parade, a Sikh festival, it said.