A former Bakersfield City Council candidate, Rajvir “Raj” Singh Gill, was arrested last weekend on suspicion of attempting to hire hitmen to shoot members of Gurudwara Shaheed Baba Deep Singh Ji Khalsa Darbar, one of Bakersfield’s largest Gurudwara and burn the Gurudwara down, US-based bakersfield.com reported.
Bakersfield is a city in Kern County, California, United States.
The 60-year-old Gill won less than 7 per cent votes in November’s Ward 7 elections. He was under a temporary restraining order not to harass the Gurudwara when the Bakersfield police took him into custody on March 4. He was accused of six counts of solicitation to commit a criminal act; however, he has been released from jail.
On March 7, a Gurudwara elder, Sukhwinder Singh Ranghi, said that Gill had showed up at the Gurudwara, disrupted prayers, threatened members of the congregation, and even carried a fun before being arrested at one point. However, there are no arrest records before March 4. Ranghi attributed Gill’s actions to a dispute over USD 800,000, contributed by the congregation’s members, which was supposed to reimburse a corporate entity set up to purchase the Gurudwara out of foreclosure in July 2020, US-based bakersfield.com reported.
Ranghi said, “It’s the greed that most likely got to him” about Gill. He said that the Gurudwara learned that Gill offered USD 10,000 to two Hispanic hitmen to kill certain leaders involved in court cases, including him. He claimed that Gill drove the hitmen around the city to show the Gurudwara leader’s homes he wanted to be killed. The Gurudwara leaders learned about Gill’s plans through an associate of the hitmen, US-based bakersfield.com reported.
Ranghi alleged that Gill told the hitmen how to burn down the Gurudwara by exploiting the faulty electrical wiring installed by Gill’s men when the Gurudwara was built. He also showed a video where Gill unplugged the microphones during an ongoing service.
City Councilwoman Manpreet Kaur said she knew of the restraining order against Gill but was unaware of the conflict’s details. She also called the allegations against Gill unfathomable. She said, “It’s really heartbreaking. It is. It’s frightening and I’m just hoping the community stays safe,” US-based bakersfield.com reported.
Reportedly, the conflict between Gill and the Gurudwara’s leaders pertains to Gurudwara’s transfer of ownership from an LLC formed to purchase the Gurudwara at a public auction after it went for foreclosure, and was supposed to return ownership to the Gurudwara’s non-profit organisation. However, the transfer of ownership never took place.
While Gurudwara’s non-profit organisation alleged that four of eight members hijacked the LLC’s formation process to host the Gurudwara hostage, the LLC has alleged that the organisation breached the agreement and the money owed to the LLC on personal and other improper expenses. The cases have been consolidated and remain pending before the court.