OAK CREEK -- Milwaukee Sikh community Tuesday, August 7th welcomed the highest official from the heart of Sikh territory in India. FOX6 News sat down with the chief minister of the Indian State of Punjab Tuesday for an exclusive interview.
Punjab's Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was scheduled to be in Wisconsin for a wedding. Before the wedding, he'll first attend funeral services for six victims, scheduled for Friday, August 10th at Oak Creek High School's gymnasium.
Mike Lowe: "Mr. Chief Minister, I thought it might be valuable for our viewers if we started with kind of a primer of the geography. The Punjab region is between Pakistan and India, but it is also the name of a state, which is where you're from, and you're kind of like the governor of that state. What are your responsibilities?
Parkash Singh Badal: "I am the head of government in the state. I don't know what other powers of the government there are here, but in our culture in India, chief minsiter is the whole and sole in charge of the state. First chief minsiter is the leader of the house, is elected and forms a cabinet."
Mike Lowe: "When you heard the news from 8,000 miles away, what was your reaction to the shooting in Oak Creek?"
Parkash Singh Badal: "It was very shocking, but we could not expect such like incidents in a country like the USA. It is not only that only Sikhs were shocked but the whole of the country was shocked to learn about this incident. Very tragic. Now the whole of the country wants to know, what's the reason behind it? Is there any controversy and what are the facts the people already know -- and also such incidencts should not occur again."
Mike Lowe: "Were you thinking that this might have been motivated by hate?"
Parkash Singh Badal: "I can't say, because we have read in the papers, Indian papers also today while I was on the airplane -- so we have only paper knowledge."
Mike Lowe: "Now that you'vehad a chance to read the papers and we know a little more about the suspect who perpetrated this shooting -- he was a member of a white sipremecist group, a Neo-Nazi organization, and it appears that he targeted the Sikh Temple simply because people look differently that the way he does and you practice a different religion. What is your reaction when you hear something like that in the United States?"
Parkash Singh Badal: "It's a very tragic incident. So all are worried about this, so now I'm going to contact the community here. I met many person, important person here. Now I'm going to their houses -- the persons who have been shot dead."
Mike Lowe: "So when you go and talk to the victims families...
Parkash Singh Badal: "Just today, just right now, after meeting you, because first thing I have to do that's most important is meet all the families."
Mike Lowe: "Is there something you can tell them that will comfort them?"
Parkash Singh Badal: "It's my duty. I have to share their grieving. I have had so much tragedy in these families, so as a representaive of that community, I have to share that grievance. I have met the families of those persons who have died here. In India also, two families both have brothers -- both have died here. They are form Delhi. Last night I went to their houses and they were very keen that their bodies should be sent to that place, and I can say the Punjab government is ready to pay the expenses, if required, to take their bodies to India, to their home place."
Mike Lowe: "We think of the United States as being a place that welcomes everybody. What is your view of the united States after an incident like this?"
Parkash Singh Badal: "Basically we think highly of the USA Government, and our people who they have met, have all praise for the police here. The police here has done a good job."
Mike Lowe: "If I could ask you about the tenants of the Sikh faith, as I understand it in your faith there is no original sin, no Satan, no fire and brimstone hell. What do you think motivates evil, like the evil that we saw?"
Parkash Singh Badal: "Sikhism is the most secular religion. I don't want to say, because our first issue is to respect all religions. In Punjabi, our own language, after every prayer, when we do prayer daily, then after that we say 'Sharbat Sapulah.' Not only for Sikhs or India, but for the welfare of the whole world."
Mike Lowe: "It's hard to look at this with any type of hope, but is there something you can see, in an act like this that has taken so many innocent lives? Is there a thread of hope -- a glimmer of something positive that might come out of this?"
Parkash Singh Badal: "Every religion is separate -- finally the same, just we have to reach the destination. Once can go this way, the other can go this way, so all religions I think believe in one god."
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