Sunday’s shooting incident at the Oak Creek gurdwara in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in which six Sikhs and one attacker were killed, has cast its shadow on Punjab’s overseas’ “power wedding” that was scheduled there on August 11.
The who’s who of politics in Punjab and the Punjabi diaspora were expected to attend the wedding of Tina, daughter of an affluent NRI, Darshan Singh Dhaliwal, whose brother, Surjit Singh Rakhra, holds the important portfolio of Rural Development and Panchayats in the Cabinet headed by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.
Mr. Rakhra made it to the Assembly during this year’s elections after defeating Raninder Singh, son of Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh for the Samana seat.
While the Chief Minister was expected to board a flight late on Monday, his son Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is the Deputy Chief Minister and heads the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal, would have joined later. Vidhan Sabha Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal, various other ministers, the former Union Minister, Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, religious gurus including Baba Kashmira Singh and Baba Ram Pal Singh, Akali Dal leaders and senior functionaries have already reached the U.S. to participate in the event.
It would have been the first major social event in the Punjabi diaspora after the marriage of the son of another affluent NRI, Sant Singh Chatwal.
Incidentally, Mr. Dhaliwal is a leader of the local Punjabi community and had doled out liberal grants for the construction of the sprawling shrine, where the shooting took place. Mr. Dhaliwal was present in the shrine at the time of the shootout and saved himself by hiding in a closet. However, Mr. Rakhra’s brother-in-law, Satwant Singh Kaleke, who headed the shrine’s managing committee succumbed to bullet injuries.
While the family had been planning the “Anand Karaj” (religious ceremony for a Sikh marriage) in the same shrine, the celebrations had been planned about 20 km away in the same suburb.