April 18, 2021 6:21:19 am
Devastated after losing their loved ones to a lone gunman’s rampage at a FedEx facility in the US, the families of four Punjabi victims said such crimes against the community must be stopped at all cost.
“Enough is enough. Our community has been through enough trauma…. My nani, my family, and our families should not feel unsafe at work, at their place of worship, or anywhere,” Komal Chohan, granddaughter of one of the deceased Amarjit Kaur Johal, told The New York Post.
Four Punjabis – Jaswinder Singh (73), Amarjit Kaur Johal (66), Amarjit Kaur Sekhon (48) and Jaswinder Kaur (64) — were among eight people who were killed by Brandon Scott Hole (19), a former employee at the facility in Indianapolis, before allegedly committing suicide.
These four victims hail from Punjab’s Doaba region, including three from Hoshiarpur and one from Jalandhar.
The 73-year-old Sikh victim hailed from Kotla Nodh village of the district Hoshiarpur. A farmer in India, Jaswinder Singh (73) was living with his son and wife in Indiana for the past 8 years. Family members in Punjab and in the US said that he was quite active despite his age and loved his work at the FedEx facility.
“He was a simple man. He used to pray and meditate a lot, and he did community service,” said Harjap Singh Dhillon, a relative of Singh, in a New York Times report.
Back in his native village, son Jatinder Singh said: “My father was very happy there in the US and loved his job which he had changed recently. He spoke to me on Thursday and was asking every one’s wellbeing in the family as well as in the village. After my father left I started doing agriculture on our 9 acres of land. People go there for a better future, but they are targeted out of hate in countries like the US.”
He added: “They had visited us four years back, and were planning to visit again. But there plans had to be deferred due to the pandemic.” Jatinder said that the news was broken to him over phone by his brother who stays in the US.
In Jalandhar’s Salempur Masanda village, Amarjit Kaur Johal’s family said that she along were husband had been in the US for three decades. “My cousin Makhan Singh Johal and his wife Amarjit Kaur went and settled in the US three decades back. They would visit the native village in Jalandhar after a gap of 2-3 years. They still have house and land here,” said Sewa Singh Johal, who is also an NRI and is settled in London.
” I got the news from my children early today morning…Amarjit Kaur had turned 66 on the Baisakhi on April 13,” said Sewa Singh, who is in Punjab on his annual visit.
He added that the couple were happily settled in US along with their four children and five grandchildren. “This news has shocked everyone in the family…It is appalling that people are being killed for no fault of their own and such hate crimes must be stopped at every cost,” he said.
Two more women, Jaswinder Kaur (64) and Amarjit Kaur Sekhon (48) were also among the victims. Both hail from Hoshiarpur and were related. Rimpi, Sekhon’s niece, said she is struggling to explain her loss of her younger son. “We can’t even think of what to tell him. All of a sudden last night his mom went to work, and she never came back today,” she was quoted as saying.
Jaswinder Kaur, who used to travel with Sekhon for her night shifts at FedEx, was to attend her granddaughter’s second birthday celebrations on Saturday. “And today we’re gathering to plan a funeral,” Rimpi, who is also related to Jaswinder Kaur, said. Maninder Walia, a community leader, expressed shock at the shooting incident, saying that it is very hard to understand that it can happen to the community.
“We go everywhere. We are all one family. Tragedy has occurred in a particular side of the town and we are all together. Anybody who has been hurt or anything, we mourn for all,” Walia said while speaking to the local WRTV channel. Replying to a question on concerns whether the community is being targeted, he said, “It is too early to say anything and folks who are in the law and enforcement, they are gonna do their thing.”
“Our community has a long road of healing physically, mentally and spiritually to recover from this tragedy,” Walia told the CNN.
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