Stockton Sikhs Fight Violence, Prejudice

May 26, 2006

Source: The Record

On May 26, 2006 The Record reported, "Stockton Sikhs have regularly encountered stereotypes and misconceptions about their culture and religion, especially since Sept. 11, 2001. The turbans and long beards Sikh men wear evoke Islam, though they are Indian.

There have been attacks from outside the community, like a recent act of vandalism on a historic temple in Stockton. But a drive-by shooting on Mother's Day left many wondering why two men would open fire on their fellow Sikhs.

On May 14, six Sikh men suffered varying degrees of injuries after being shot outside the Sansar Indian Cuisine restaurant on Pacific Avenue in Stockton. Two of them are still in hospitals but are in stable condition.

Two men, Pardeep Singh, 35, and Kulwant Singh Gadri, 39, turned themselves in to the police in connection with the drive-by shooting. The men are in police custody, with their bail set at $6.5 million each. They have not entered a plea and will make a court appearance on June 7.

All the individuals involved had attended a Punjabi festival at the Arch Airport Sports Complex earlier that day and were involved in an argument, police said. The victims went to the restaurant on Pacific Avenue to celebrate the day's events and were standing outside at 11:30 p.m. when a silver BMW drove up and its occupants opened fire on the six men, according to police...The Stockton Sikh community has about 5,000 members, according to Amrik Singh Dhaliwal, the president of the Stockton temple. There are more than 22 million Sikhs worldwide and about a half-million in the United States, said Narinder Kapany, the chairman of the Palo Alto-based Sikh Foundation, a nonprofit group that promotes Sikh history and culture.

The two men who turned themselves in are temple members but do not attend services there regularly, Amrik Singh Dhaliwal said."