Only faded memories left of slain husband, father
For 16 years, Lokinder Kaur waited patiently for the day her husband would be reunited with her and their children. That dream died with...
The Associated Press
NEW DELHI — For 16 years, Lokinder Kaur waited patiently for the day her husband would be reunited with her and their children. That dream died with him in a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.
Ranjit Singh, one of six killed in a shooting attack at the temple, never came home even once in all those years, working at a grocery store during the week and volunteering at the Sikh gurdwara on weekends. He promised his family he was doing what had to be done to get a green card so they could come join him.
He called every few days, even as the months dragged into years. Kaur said she spoke to Singh just the day before a gunman entered the temple in Oak Creek, Wis., and shot worshippers as they prepared for services on Sunday.
Singh, 49, sang devotional songs at the temple and took care of worshippers, serving them meals. His brother, who died in the attack as well, often sang with him.
All Kaur was left with is a recent photograph of Singh, dressed sharply in a crisp shirt and tie and smiling confidently into the camera.
"My children keep asking me, 'What did Papa look like?" she said, sobbing at her faded memory of her husband's face. "I have no answers."
When Singh first left for the United States his son was just 7 months old, his daughters 4 and 6. He had a visa for just six months.
"My husband had only one dream. To see his children settled abroad," Kaur said as she sat surrounded by grieving family and friends in her modest two-story home in a Delhi neighborhood.
To chase that dream, he kept renewing his visa, finally applying for a green card a few years ago.
His daughters got married while he was away. His son grew up knowing him only as the voice on the phone, the image in the photographs.
A short distance away from Kaur's home, similar scenes of mourning cloud the home of her slain brother-in-law, Sita Singh, 41, who traveled back and forth routinely from India to the United States.
The temple's secretary, 56-year-old Inderjeet Singh Dhillon, said that the younger Singh would wake up every morning between 4:30 and 5 to read the Sikh holy book. Afterward, he would see which visitors had come in and ensure all had prasad, the food offering given at the end of every prayer session.
"It was very important to him that whoever came always left with prasad," Dhillon said.
His wife, Surinder Kaur, first got word that something had happened in a 1:30 a.m. phone call from a relative, who said the brothers had been shot. Three hours later they were dead.
"It's just us women left all alone to look after our children," Surinder Kaur said.
Among the other six killed Sunday:
Satwant Singh Kaleka, 65, the president of the temple, died defending his gift to the next generation. He managed to find a simple butter knife in the temple and tried to stab the gunman even after being shot twice near the hip or upper leg, his son said.
Amardeep Singh Kaleka said FBI agents hugged him Sunday, shook his hand and said, "Your dad's a hero" for fighting to the death while protecting others, including
his mother, who called police using her cellphone while hiding from the gunman.
Relatives said the elder Kaleka was considered the founder of the Oak Creek temple, and was also one of the lead investors in the building's construction.
Paramjit Kaur finished her morning prayers, a daily ritual for the deeply spiritual mother of two, then walked into the temple's front hallway Sunday and was fatally shot. Kaur's friends remembered the 41-year-old wife Monday as sweet, outspoken and devoted to her family and her faith. They said she was also hardworking — spending 11 hours a day, 6 days a week, in production at a medical-devices firm in order to provide for her children.
Suveg Singh Khattra was a constant presence at the temple. Most days, his son, a taxi driver, would drop him off there to pray. Khattra and his wife moved to the U.S. eight years ago to join their son. On Sunday, the 84-year-old former farmer from northern India was shot and killed.
"He don't have hatred for anybody. He loved to live here," said son Baljinder Khattra, who moved from the family's farm in Patiala, a city in Punjab, in 1994.
The elder Khattra spoke no English, communicating instead with neighbors and friends with his hands.
"He (was) very humble. He loved all peoples," Khattra said.
Prakash Singh's wife and teenage children were living in the temple. Recently, they had moved from India to join Singh, a temple leader.
Navdeep Gill, an 18-year-old temple member from Franklin, said Singh, 39, had rented an apartment nearby and his family was due to move in by the end of the month. Singh's son and daughter will attend high school soon.
As a Sikh leader, Singh performed daily services, including reciting from the religion's holy book, leading prayers and lecturing on how to practice Sikhism.
Gill said Singh had a fun-loving personality — "telling jokes and whatnot."
arrested over gun
SOUTH MILWAUKEE, Wis. — Police arrested a former girlfriend of the gunman who killed six people at a Sikh temple, saying an unauthorized gun was found in the home they once shared.
Misty Cook, a 31-year-old waitress and nursing student with reported ties to white-supremacist organizations, was arrested Tuesday in a joint investigation with the FBI on suspicion of being a felon in possession of a firearm. Wade Michael Page, the gunman shot dead by police at the temple Sunday, had lived with her until moving to a separate residence a few weeks ago.
Cook shared Page's interest in the white-power movement and was active in at least two neo-Nazi organizations, according to the Anti-Defamation League, which monitors hate groups.
Los Angeles Times