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Punjabi community of Manteca gets organized
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The latest ethnic group to organize in Manteca is one whose time has come.

With 500 to 600 Indian families from that country’s Punjab state now calling the Family City their home, they have formed a group called the Punjabi-American Association of Manteca to become more involved in the community.

“We want to get involved in the political system, and we want to organize cultural programs for our kids,” said Tony Dhaliwal who was voted president by a group of some 80 Punjabis who attended the organization’s first meeting on Sunday, Aug. 22.

The other officers elected were Jaspreet “Labla” Singh, vice president; Parmjit Singh, general secretary; Harminder Singh Samana, stage secretary; Dr. Satwinder Singh Shahi, treasurer; and, Mandeet Singh, public relations officer and group spokesman. Mandeet Singh is the owner of the UPS Store at the North Main Save Mart shopping center in Manteca.

In addition to fostering youth cultural programs and getting involved in Manteca’s political system, the Punjabi-American group also aims to have its members “get involved in the city so we can play a part in making this city even greater,” said Dhaliwal who is a member of the re-election campaign committee of Councilman Vince Hernandez.

They also plan to “work with law enforcement and city council,” among other things, added Dhaliwal.

In addition to the above objectives, the members of the new organization want to dispel some common misunderstandings about people like them who wear the turban. Dhaliwal said a lot of people think that “everybody who wears a turban” is a Muslim and that “these are the people who bombed New York” on September 11, 2001.

“That’s not true,” said Dhaliwal, the father of two young children and whose wife, Amanda, has been a bank manager in Stockton for almost 16 years. Dhaliwal himself works in the Transportation Department of Santa Clara County where his brother, Sonny, who is a Lathrop councilman, us aksi employed.

“We know what happened on 9-11, and want to educate people who we are and why we are here, and to make this country wonderful. We are here working for this country. We are hard-working people like those in other communities, not troublemakers,” Dhaliwal further explained.

“There’s a lot of Christians and Muslims, a lot of Hindus and a lot of Sikhs in Punjab,” he said, adding, the new organization “is not only for one religion; that’s why we did not name it the Sikh-American Association.”

He described the Punjab region of India as a state in India that is “like California” where there’s “a lot of farming.”

Formed along with the six-member “working committee” of officers for the Punjabi-American Association is a 31-member advisory committee whose responsibility is to provide input on program and project ideas to the organization.

Dhaliwal said anyone who is interested in becoming involved in the association is “more than welcome to join.”

For more information about the group, call (209) 915-3776.