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San Francisco, Aug 6, 2002

The brother of the first South Asian killed in hate crimes following the September 11 attacks, has been shot dead, police said. The 52-year-old Sukhpal Singh, brother of Balbir Singh Sodhi, was killed on August 4 in San Francisco while he was driving his cab by someone outside the vehicle, they said. Balbir, a gas station owner in Mesa, Arizona, was killed on September 15 by a gunman driving through the station.

Sukhpal, a resident of Daly City, California, was on his way home from his shift as a United cab driver just before 04:00 hours local time when someone outside his vehicle shot him in San Francisco's mission district, according to police and Singh's manager. Police said there is no evidence that Sukhpal's killing was a hate crime. He may have been the victim of a bullet intended for somebody else, they said.

"We don't exactly know what we have, but from all indications, it looked like the cab driver was in the wrong place at the wrong time through no fault of his own," inspector Joseph Toomey told the local media. The murder has sent shock-waves through the entire Indian community in the country. However, the Sikh Media Watch and Resource Task Force (SMART) has urged the police to investigate the murder as a hate crime. According to media reports, as gunshots rang, Sukhpal's taxi careened down 24th street towards Mission Street and struck a parked car which burst into flames when it hit another car.

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