Sikh community in Selma, CA in shock as local gurdwara singer killed in carjacking incident

Ritu Jha–

The Sikh community in Selma, California is in shock after an unknown assailant killed a local gurdwara priest on the night of February 23. Raj Singh, 29, was found with gunshot wounds outside ‘Sikh Center of the Pacific Coast’ in the city. Selma is located in Fresno County, approximately 200 miles north of Los Angeles.

Tony Botti, Fresno County Sheriff told indica that an investigation is ongoing. Singh was reportedly shot during a carjacking incident. Two people were shot at, according to the police, and one of them died.

No arrest has been made as of February 29. The funeral is scheduled for March 14.

According to the police, the incident occurred at around 10 pm near the intersection of Highland and Rose avenues. “The incident is under investigation by the Selma police,” an officer said. “No arrest has been made. However, the car has been recovered.”

Indica has asked other questions of the Selma police, but there was no response up until the time of writing this story. This report will be updated once we receive more information from the police.

Gurdwara employee Harman Singh told indica that it is hard to understand why he went behind the gurdwara “because no one goes there.” He said, “It’s like a jungle, and only homeless people live there.”

He said the community is cooperating with the investigators. “We are still trying to find out what really happened.”

Singh said Raj Singh was the lead kirtan singer at the gurdwara. “He joined around one and a half years ago. He looked heavy and people thought he was in his old but he was young and single.”

Before joining the Selma gurdwara, Raj Singh worked at the San Jose gurdwara. “He was a bubbly man and he would laugh and was always cheerful,” Harman Singh said. “He used to recite hymns from the Guru Granth Sahib (Sikhism’s holy book). He was being trained to become a priest, but his current job was to recite the shabad kirtan (holy hymns) and sing.”

Harman Singh said Raj Singh was a native of Uttar Pradesh in north India, and has two sisters and a younger brother. His father died when he was young. The family lives in Bijnor in Uttar Pradesh, India.

“There is fear and concern after this incident,” Harman Singh told indica. “Why would anyone try to kill a priest? Might be a hate crime, too. We don’t see any other reason for the senseless killing.”

According to the police, after getting shot, Raj Singh called a gurdwara employee and told him that a Latino man shot him. “He walked about 200 yards and waved his hands until people at the gurdwara saw him,” Harman Singh said. “We are not sending his body back to India, and instead raising money to help his family. We have set up a Go Fund Me page to help his family.”

The Go Fund Me pages says, “Bhai Raj Singh was not just a pillar of our community but also the main source of support for his family back in India which includes unmarried siblings and a mother. With his father’s passing during his childhood, Raj Singh took it upon himself to provide and care for his loved ones, embodying the true spirit of selflessness and dedication that defines Sikhi. His untimely departure has left his family vulnerable, facing an uncertain future without their primary provider.”

Another gurdwara member, who did not want to be named, told indica, “Everyone is worried. We are trying to find out why he was at the rear end of the gurdwara so late in the night. When we saw him waving at us, we all went to the crime scene, but he died at the spot.” He said that gurdwara’s back door shuts at 7:30 pm.

He added, “Honestly, the camera doesn’t show him walking out the main gate. We are surprised how he reached the rear of the building. Did he jump the fence? At least our surveillance doesn’t show that. Besides the fence is six feet tall. This is not normal.”

He elaborated, “Raj was 29 years old. He was a professional, well aware of hymns. He would hardly listen to anyone. He was in the UK before moving to the US.”

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