A former Indian-American Bakersfield City Council candidate was arrested in California in the US on suspicion of trying to hire hit men to shoot members of one of Bakersfield’s largest Sikh temples, Gurudawara Shaheed Baba Deep Singh Ji Khalsa Darbar and burn down the property, a report has said.
Rajvir “Raj” Singh Gill, 60, was taken into custody last Saturday after being accused of six counts of solicitation to commit a criminal act, according to ANI.
The Sikh leader was already under a temporary restraining order not to harass the temple.
According to Sukhwinder Singh Ranghi, temple committee member, Gill has shown up at the property in recent months, disrupted prayers and threatened members of the congregation and carrying a gun before being arrested at one point.
Gill had offered $10,000 to two men to kill some leaders of the congregation who are involved in the court cases including Sukhwinder Singh Ranghi.
Raghi said Gill drove the men around the city pointing out the residences of the temple leaders he had targeted. The targeted men came to know this through associate of the intended hit men, the report said.
However, there are no records of his arrest prior to Saturday. The report said that Gill had won less than 7 per cent of the vote in November’s Ward 7 election.
Ranghi said that Rajvir “Raj” Singh Gill repeatedly confronted due to a dispute over more than USD 800,000, contributed by members of the congregation, that was supposed to reimburse a corporate entity set up to buy the temple out of foreclosure in July 2020.
“It’s the greed that most likely got to him,” Ranghi added.
Manpreet Kaur, a City Councilwoman, who won last fall’s election, called the allegations against Gill unfathomable.
“It’s really heartbreaking. It is. It’s frightening and I’m just hoping the community stays safe,” she reportedly said.