The deaths of four members of a Sikh family kidnapped at gunpoint in California in the United States have left their relatives in Punjab devastated. Villagers thronged their houses Thursday morning to console them and said it was a big shock to them as they could not imagine such things happening in a country like the US.
A farmworker found in an orchard the bodies of Jasdeep Singh, 36, his wife Jasleen Kaur, 27, their 8-month-old daughter Aroohi Dheri and Jasdeep’s brother Amandeep Singh, 39, at around 5.30 pm (California time), the sheriff of Merced County in California said Wednesday night. The announcement came after the authorities released a surveillance video of a man kidnapping them from their business place Monday.
At Jasleen’s native village Jandir in Jalandhar, her sister-in-law Amandeep Kaur said they cannot bear this loss. Jasleen’s mother Gurmeet Kaur and her farmer father Gurnam Singh were not in a mental state to speak.
Jasdeep hailed from the Harsi Pind village in Hoshiarpur and his parents Randhir Singh and Kirpal Kaur returned to the US Tuesday night. They were also based there and had returned to India for a spiritual trip to Uttarakhand during which they came to know about the kidnapping incident. Charanjit Singh, cousin of Jasdeep, demanded justice for the family.
Gurnam said Wednesday that his daughter (Jasleen) got married to Jasdeep in January 2019 and went to the US in October 2020. “My daughter had informed us recently that they are planning to visit us in January 2023 and we were very excited to see our granddaughter first time since she was born and had planned to celebrate the arrival of our granddaughter who would have turned one at the time of their visit in India,” he said, adding that he had no clue as to why and how the kidnapping happened.
He added that Jasleen’s in-laws had shifted to the new office at Merced around two weeks ago. “Her in-laws came to Punjab last month and also visited us in Jandir,” he said.
The California police, meanwhile, arrested one suspect, Jesus Manuel Salado, 48, after he had used the ATM card of one of the victims. Salgado attempted suicide and he was hospitalised. Later, the police released the surveillance footage showing the victims being led out of the business by an armed man.
The video showed the suspect first walking by the property before talking to one of the men. Later, it shows him leading the men, who had their hands zip-tied behind their backs, into the back seat of Amandeep Singh’s pickup truck. The suspect then went back to the trailer that served as the business office and led Jasleen, who was carrying her baby in her arms, out and into the truck before the suspect then drove away.
The sheriff’s office said firefighters Monday found Amandeep’s truck on fire. Merced police officers went to Amandeep Singh’s home, where a family member tried to reach him and the couple. When they were not able to reach their family members, they called the Merced County Sheriff’s office to report them missing, the office said.
Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann on Thursday expressed grief over the killing of four Sikh family members in the US, and said there should be a high-level probe into the matter. In a tweet, CM Mann said, “Got the news of the killing of four Indians including an eight-month old child in California”.