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Gurinder Singh Khalsa of Sikhs PAC

New Indiana PAC to advocate for Sikh community

In a world divided by sectarian discord, SikhsPAC seeks to promote understanding and cooperation among Americans of all ...

A new group aimed at giving the Sikh community more of a voice in Hoosier politics will launch this month.

SikhsPAC organizers say they want to bring awareness to the growing population for nearly 10,000 Sikhs in Indiana. The group estimates Indiana is home to about 3,500 Sikh-owned businesses, including gas stations, convenience stores and restaurants.


Gurinder Singh Khalsa

The Sikh culture is centered on community service but its members have been targeted internationally by violence since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, said Gurinder Singh Khalsa, chairman of the political action committee. His effort is believed to be the first PAC in the country oriented around the religion founded in the Punjab region that now covers parts of India and Pakistan.

“It’s unfortunate that over the years people have kind of come to see the turban as a sign of hate or fear,” said Ben Skirvin, a PAC spokesman. “Really, when you look at the history of the Sikh culture, it’s supposed to be a beacon so people can see in the crowd ‘this is where help can be found.’”

The bipartisan group hasn’t committed to donating to any candidates yet, Skirvin said. He said it will provide donations to Sikh-minded candidates running for office in all levels of government.

Members of the community have pledged $375,000 in donations for the November election, with the goal of raising $5 million by 2020.

Gurinder said the group also plans to advocate for Indiana’s high school students to learn about Sikhs, saying surveys have found that less than 1 percent of Americans know about the culture. Another push is for Indiana to pass a law against hate crimes, a proposal that has routinely died at the Indiana General Assembly.

“We are here to let the politicians know that our voice deserves to be heard,” said Gurinder, who moved to Indiana in 2008. “Our community needs more awareness.”

The group will kick off its efforts Aug. 31 in Indianapolis with an event planned at the Columbia Club. Gubernatorial candidates Lt. Gov. Eric Holcomb and Democrat John Gregg plan to attend.

More Information here.

 

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