California: Sikh leader charged for plotting to burn down Gurdwara


A 60-year-old former Bakersfield City Council candidate, Rajvir “Raj” Singh Gill, was arrested last weekend on the 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.

For those who are unversed, Bakersfield is a city in Kern County, California, United States. The Sikh leader, Gill who was under a temporary restraining order not to harass the temple, was taken into custody on Saturday after being accused of six counts of solicitation to commit a criminal act, according to the police.

Records, however, show that Gill has since been released from jail. Gill had won less than 7 per cent of the vote in November’s Ward 7 election. According to a temple elder, Sukhwinder Singh Ranghi, Gill has in recent months shown up at the property, disrupting prayers and threatening members of the congregation and carrying a gun before being arrested at one point.

There are no records of his arrest prior to Saturday. According to Ranghi, the repeated confrontations were 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.