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Police Search for Answers After California Sikh Man Found Dead

Published by NBC News

Police are investigating the death of a 68-year-old Sikh man found in a canal Monday morning in Fresno, California.

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This story was originally published by NBC News.

Police are investigating the death of a 68-year-old Sikh man found in a canal Monday morning in Fresno, California.

The Fresno County Sheriff-Coroner’s Office in a statement identified the man as Subag Singh of Fresno. He was last seen walking away from his house on the morning of July 23.

Authorities said Singh was wearing a ramal, a bandana-style head covering often worn to the gurdwara, a Sikh house of worship, when he disappeared.

Singh’s body, discovered in the canal by an employee of Fresno Irrigation, showed visible signs of trauma, which prompted the Sheriff’s homicide team to investigate, according to the statement from the Fresno County Sheriff-Coroner’s Office.

Tony Botti, a spokesperson for the sheriff, told NBC News in an email that Singh’s death was not currently being considered a hate crime, though that could change depending on the results of their investigation.

Deep Singh, executive director of the Jakara Movement, a national Sikh youth organizing and advocacy nonprofit founded in Fresno, told NBC News it was too early to tell whether Subag Singh’s death was a crime motivated by hate.

“I tend to be on the cautious side of these things,” he said.

“But at the same time there have been a number of hate crimes against Sikhs in the region,” Deep Singh added.

Over the years, Sikhs have found themselves the target of hate crimes amid anti-Muslim sentiment since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Sikhs are often recognizable for the turbans they wear, which symbolize a commitment to uphold Sikh values of equality, kindness, justice, and compassion.

Since 9/11, federal authorities have investigated more than 800 incidents against Sikhs, Muslims, South Asian Americans, Arab Americans, and others perceived to be of Middle Eastern origin, according the U.S. Justice Department. Those cases have involved violence, threats, arson, and vandalism.

One that continues to weigh on the minds of Sikhs everywhere is the 2012 massacre at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, which killed six. The fifth anniversary of that shooting rampage will be remembered on Aug. 5.

In an effort to raise awareness about an often misunderstood religion, the nonprofit National Sikh Campaign launched a “We are Sikhs” campaign in April, which included advertisements on television.

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