NEW DELHI – India's prime minister said he was shocked Monday by the shooting attack that killed six people at a Sikh house of worship in the United States, and the top Sikh cleric accused the American government of a "security lapse."
The attack at the temple in Wisconsin on Sunday sent worshippers running for cover in what police called an act of domestic terrorism.
Small protests condemning the violence were held in Indian cities Monday and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, himself a member of the Sikh faith, called the assault a "dastardly attack."
"That this senseless act of violence should be targeted at a place of religious worship is particularly painful," he said in a statement.
Giani Gurbachan Singh, the head priest of Akal Takht, the highest Sikh temporal seat, called on Sikhs in the U.S. to adopt security measures at the U.S. temples, including installing closed-circuit cameras.
"This is a security lapse on the part of the U.S. government," he said, according to the Press Trust of India news agency. He called for prayers for the victims to be said at Sikh temples across India and ordered a Sikh delegation sent to the U.S. to investigate the attack.
The Indian government rushed its consul general from Chicago, N.J. Gangte, to Wisconsin. India's foreign minister, S.M. Krishna, said the government was awaiting the results of the U.S. investigation and he criticized the gun culture in the United States.
"The U.S. government will have to take a comprehensive look at this kind of tendency which certainly is not going to bring credit to the United States of America," he said.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, traveling in Africa, spoke by phone Monday with her counterpart, Krishna, said State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell. He did not immediately have details of the conversation.
U.S. Ambassador to India Nancy Powell paid her respects at a Sikh temple in New Delhi and assured the worshippers there that her government stood with them. Powell expressed condolences and support for thorough investigation into "this horrific crime," Ventrell told reporters in Washington.
In the northern city of Jammu, dozens of Sikhs gathered to protest the shooting, shouting slogans and carrying placards that read, "Ban open sale of weapons in U.S.A." and "Shame Shame Shame."
"It is very shocking. A country like the U.S.A., which says it is a superpower, could not protect its own people," said T.S. Ahluwalia, a marketing executive, as he walked into a Sikh temple in New Delhi.
"To attack a religious place of any religion in the world is very bad," he said.