BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) – Months ago, Raj Gill was a candidate for Bakersfield City Council. Now Gill is at the center of accusations saying he offered money to have people shot and burn the Shaheed Temple in southwest Bakersfield.
According to attorney Steven Gibbs representing the temple, nine members were on Gill’s list, but his primary problem was with the temple’s board of directors Amrik Athwal and Sukhwinder Singh Ranghi.
Athwal said he now fears for his life.
“If those people didn’t tell us, we don’t know how many people else he’s talked to. He could find a crazy guy, who really need the money, you know? They’re just going to come they don’t care. they’re just going to kill us, shoot us,” Athwal said.
Athwal and Ranghi believe the problem stems from their contributions of over $100,000 to buy the temple out of foreclosure in 2020.
“Sikh people never even think to burn the temple. Temple? Burning the building? What does the building have to do with him?” Athwal said.
Athwal says over the last two years tensions have become so thick between Gill and members of the temple. Gill began to continually disrupt temple services and more, the men said. This forced board members to file a restraining order in November 2022 against Gill and he was ordered to stay away from the temple. Athwal claims the congregation is living in fear.
“Everybody is scared, everybody is saying it is unbelievable. What is he is thinking? You know, why is he doing it?” Athwal said.
Gill is out on bail and Gibbs claims this only puts their lives at greater risk.
“I don’t think they’re going to feel safe as long as he’s running around free out there if he was able to take these steps as alleged what’s he going to do next, is he going to get more desperate? whatever it is it can’t be good for them,” Gibbs said.
17 News has reached out to Gill about the allegations and received no response.