BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Jose Linares says he will never forget the day his boss, at the time, asked him and his coworkers a startling question about a Bakersfield temple.
The question was:
“How much would you charge me to burn down a temple? Because I have a lot of problems with the people there.”
That boss is 60-year-old Rajvir Gill, a local businessman and former city council candidate, who has been involved in disputes at the Shaheed Temple for years.
“We told him no. We are not those types of people,” Linares said. “We’re not delinquents, we’re not hit men, we are only hard-working people. We’ve come to this country only to get ahead in life.”
After the men rejected Gill’s proposals, Linares said he and his coworkers were fired and that Gill didn’t pay all the workers what they were owed.
This is allegedly when the threats began.
“He said he was going to call the cops, that he was going to call immigration on us, calling us a derogatory term, that ICE was going to deport us,” Linares said.
Last year, Gill ran for Ward 7 City Council but lost against Manpreet Kaur.
This year, the Bakersfield Police Department executed a search warrant at Gill’s main residence, where a hit list was allegedly found.
Gill was arrested Saturday, on six felony counts of solicitation to commit a criminal act, according to a statement from police.
He is accused of approaching several people, attempting to find someone to shoot leaders of a local Sikh congregation and setting fire to the temple.
“I can’t sleep well anymore. Every time I hear a sound I’m worried someone is trying to break in,” Miguel Martinez, Linares’ coworker, said.
This is because he fears for his life.
“If he had the audacity to do something like this to his own people, imagine us, that we’re nothing to him. He barely knows us,” Martinez explained.
But the men said they decided to speak with 17 News, to clarify that they’re not hit men and that they would never hurt the people in the community. Also, to send a message to others, to not be afraid to speak up if they’re ever a victim of an injustice.
“If there’s some type of abuse by the employer, don’t be afraid to report them,” Saul Linares, another one of the men who alleges was threatened by Gill, said. “We’re in a country where these acts are not permitted and they’re very aware of that.”