Garrett mayor apologizes for throwing out Sikh pamphlets

Photo of Mayor Tonya Hoeffel courtesy KPC News

Garrett, Indiana—The mayor of Garrett has apologized to a local business owner for an act that she herself called, “unrighteous.”  KPC News reported the apology on Monday.

The manager and part-owner of Quickway in Garrett, Kulwinder Nagra, 38, said he put pamphlets about his Sikh religion on the counter of the store after the shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin .

“I just wanted to let people know who I am,” Nagra told KPC News. “After 9/11, there was a lot of misunderstanding. ”

Surveillance footage shows Hoeffel entering the store at about 12:55 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 28. She bought a soft drink and walked away. She then returned to the counter, grabbed the small stack of pamphlets, took them outside and threw them into a trash bin.

Nagra said he went outside to ask the mayor why she took all four of the pamphlets that had been placed on the counter in front of the register.

“She said, ‘It’s against my beliefs,’” Nagra said. “She said, ‘This is against Christianity.’”

Hoeffel later said she disposed of the pamphlets because of a lack of personal interest, not as a statement about the religion.

Hoefell has since apologized, saying, “I just grabbed what was there.  I just decided I didn’t want it.”

Hoefell and Garrett City Coucilman Brad Stump met with Nagra and his business partners on Monday to discuss the incident.

“I personally believe if you do something wrong, you go to that person,” Hoeffel told KPC news. “I apologized for offending them. I said I know they are a peaceful people.”

Nagra said the Sikh religion teaches forgiveness and the issue was resolved for him when Hoeffel apologized.

Originally published by, commentary by Editors.


  1. This has been the attitude of most christian Americans. They have no apathy for any Sikh. I have been told by many white Americans that you did it to us on 9/11 and now it happened to you. Even after explaining the difference between turban sikhs and extermisist fringe muslim sects, they still don’t care. Christian Americans are just tolerating us they do not respect the Sikh faith and they can never really relate to us either. Right now we are just coming to the lime light and as soon as they have a reason to hate us, then they will show there true colors.

  2. And to think that she is a mayor…. that she represents all the communities in her district! What a shame… Just so plain wrong that people think, “in the name of religion… let’s insult another religion.” We don’t have to like each other, but we do have to respect each other.

  3. I am from Garrett, and knew almost nothing about Sikhs until this incident, which prompted me to read Nagra’s booklet “Who are the Sikhs,” and speak with him. I was very impressed by what I read, by Nagra himself, and by the loyal and warm testimony I heard from two of his employees on separate occasions shortly after; and I know others had the same experience. So maybe some good can come of such incidents. But yes, there is more dark than light, throughout all the world.

  4. Waheguru Paramjit Singh Ji,
    Forgiveness is Gursikhi indeed, and not hate, bigotry, discrimination (which thrives even in Catholic school where my daughter attended) is what christians thrive on; in denial of this trait of theirs sadly, which is why they indulge in drugs, booze, immorality etc…then blame their misery on others…if you investigate 9/11, even this is a conspiracy suggesting the us govt is responsible for this surprisingly (article was in last year’s Sikhnet news in Sept 2011)?
    Guru Sahib’s Hukam is to live amongst Sadh Sangat to be spared of evil..

  5. I am from Indiana but not Garrett, and very fortunate to live among intelligent, kind, diverse, people from all over the world, of all religions (Purdue University area) where there is not quite as much this kind of ignorance and intolerance. This was a shameful and hurtful act, but I hope this story gets a lot of press and that Mr. Nagra’s original intention will be accomplished in a bigger way that just from the pamphlets in the store.

  6. Forgiveness ?
    Why because she is white and american. What If she was from poor or bihari background?
    What happened to forgiveness when bihari migrant was killed? The barasati daddus like hardliners need to come out of their wells and look around.

    Google and decide yourself.The same people are calling the other person as martyr,bhai,etc.The SIkh channel is always in front when it comes to ignite the flame against biharis or other poor background people.

    Also hardliners like Simranjit Mann lick the American government although he was rejected by the american consulate in India.In Punjab, the christians have done a lot for poor people but what sikh community has done is not enough in terms of schooling .All Sikh schools are for rich in punjab (charging hefty fees and donation)and none for poor.The same is true in london where muslims have done a lot for their community.Don’t wait for SGPC ,each sikh need to think about the whole community rather than fighting in gurdwaras.

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