Masked men raid Gurdwara in Leamington Spa. Gurdwara committee dismisses allegations of accepting money for weddings ….reports Asian Lite News
Government officials are in contact with Gurdwara committee in Leamington Spa, Warwickshire to find out the reasons behind the standoff between a group of masked youths and local police on Sunday. Armed officers surrounded the Gurdwara Sahib on Sunday around 7am after reports men entered the building in a row over inter-faith marriages.
The Leamington Spa Gurdwara is one of the prominent Sikh Temples in the country. Former Prime Minister David Cameron were among the prominent visitors at Gurdwara.
Police said they arrest 55 males, aged between 17 and 39, during the incident at Tachbrook Drive. The 54 men have been bailed until October while investigations continue. One man, a 30-year-old from Derby, remains in police custody.
One of those arrested at the Temple, a 39-year-old man from Birmingham, was also arrested on suspicion of causing racially aggravated fear or provocation of violence by words. This relates to an incident that occurred at Leamington Police Station.
Police also released the full list of arrested individuals and most of them are not residents at Leamington Spa. Among the bailed include a 26-year-old from Bradford. He was charged with aggravated trespassing.
A group called Sikh Youth Birmingham claimed responsibility. They said in a statement that its members were peacefully protesting against an inter-faith marriage that was to be carried out as a Sikh marriage at the temple. But the police version challenged the “peaceful protest.” The police said “masked” men were involved in the incident.
“Significant number of bladed weapons” were seized,” the police said in a statement.
“Officers responded to an initial report of a group of masked men, initially thought to be around 20 in number, forcing their way into the Gurdwara,” they added. “These were reported to be carrying a range of bladed items some of which were initially described as not being for ceremonial use. Officers assessed the situation and responded accordingly.
“Having contained the situation, it became apparent that there were 55 masked men involved, all of whom were arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass. Blades seized so far have been ceremonial. Another non-ceremonial weapon was seized. This is an ongoing investigation and we will be investigating the initial report that other weapons were involved.”
Superintendent David Gardner said: “We would like to reassure people that this was a contained incident that we believe was an escalation of a local dispute.
“A significant number of bladed weapons were seized from the scene. As a result of reports that the men were in possession of these weapons we deployed armed officers as a precaution. Nobody was injured in the incident. Over the coming days we will be working with local the Sikh community to address some of the ongoing issues that have culminated in today’s events.
Jaswat Videe, another Gurdwara trustee, dismissed the allegations of the Sikh Forum Youth. He told the Guardian newspaper that the intruders were “absolutely wrong” to think that Sikhism prohibits interfaith marriage.
“Scripture doesn’t discriminate between anyone,” he said. “The Guru says every citizen in the world is equal.”
He also dismissed any suggestion that the temple authorities were allowing interfaith marriages to raise money, saying that the Gurdwara does not charge for weddings and relies on donations.
The £11m Gurdwara was opened in 2009 to serve a local Sikh community of about 5,000 Sikhs.