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'Business as usual' after priest held hostage with sword at Hull Sikh temple

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

POLICE have reassured worshippers it is safe to return to their temple after a priest was held hostage with a sword in front of his congregation.

Eight members of an armed gang are believed to have burst into the Sikh temple in west Hull and attempted to take the priest hostage by holding a sword to his neck.

The violent protest took place on Sunday in front of worshippers including children.

It is believed the row was sparked over plans to allow a holy book to be taken out to South Cave for a wedding.

A concerned worshipper, who did not wish to be named, told the Mail: "There are all sorts of politics going on at the temple. They have been going on for months and came to a head at the weekend.

"The gang burst into the building to show their authority and there was a lot of chaos and commotion.

"It's to do with the bank accounts, which have changed names, and locks, which have been changed. It's a shambles.

"They held a sword to the neck of the priest.

"The gang didn't want the holy book to leave the temple and go to South Cave for the wedding."

He voiced his concern at returning to the temple in Parkfield Drive, off Anlaby Road, to pray on Sunday with his family in case it happens again.

He said: "All we want to know is, as a congregation, is it safe to return and will the police be there to protect us?

"We need assurances, we want the police to be there on Sunday.

"It is the only Sikh temple in Hull and although in big towns and cities there are a lot of fractions going on, this has never happened here before.

"We are very concerned about this as a congregation. We go to a prayer house to pray and listen to hymns and meet other people. Personal issues shouldn't be involved.

"Most of us Sikhs in Hull stay under the radar and keep ourselves to ourselves. We are ashamed of this."

The Mail understands the priest suffered a mild heart attack during the incident and was taken to Hull Royal Infirmary for treatment.

Police have arrested two men from the Hull area and have released them on bail while they continue their investigation.

Officers told the Mail the temple is now open for "business as usual" and can be used as normal on Sunday.

A spokeswoman for Humberside Police said officers are still trying to establish exactly what happened and are still taking statements from witnesses.

She said: "Police were called to the Sikh Temple on Parkfield Drive after an internal dispute.

"Two men aged 36 and 58, both from the Hull area, were arrested in connection with the dispute.

"Both men have been released on bail to a date in August, pending further inquiries.

"The neighbourhood policing team that covers the area is aware of the incident and will monitor the site as required but there is no cause for concern and the temple is open for business as usual."

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Militants try to halt multi-racial wedding

A WEDDING ceremony had to be abandoned after a group of 40 militant Sikhs locked themselves inside the community’s Kembrey Street temple.

The hardliners occupied the building on Saturday to disrupt a marriage between a Sikh woman and a man said to be a Christian and of West African background.

The group locked the doors and gates of the gurdwara, near Kembrey Park, before leaving more than six hours later.

Though the Sikh part of the marriage had to be abandoned, a civil ceremony between Susan Momi and Kenny Lawrence did go ahead at Lydiard Park, despite the militants turning up there as well.

Susan’s mother Harbhajan said: “Words can’t express how I feel, we are all in shock.

“They went inside the temple, locked the doors and switched the security cameras off.

“We had a caterer in charge of the breakfast. They ate all the food and then told him ‘go or we’ll kill you’. We also had relatives from other parts of the world turn up for the wedding who didn’t know what was going on.

“I was getting to ready to go to the temple when I had a phone call from a friend telling me to stay away. It was awful, my heart is still going even now.”

The militants claimed on YouTube that they had acted peacefully to stop an inter-faith union at the temple. But the bride’s family say couples from different religions have married before at the gurdwara without incident.

Mrs Harbhajan: “This had nothing to do with religion. There was nothing to stop the ceremony in the gurdwara.

“This was all to do with the colour of his skin.”

The ceremony had been agreed by the gurdwara’s managing committee, but they were powerless to act after several vans full of men turned up on Saturday morning.

Raghdir Bains, a committee member at the Punjabi Community Centre, said: “Nearly everybody in the Sikh community in Swindon is absolutely against what took place.

“We live in a multi-cultural society and if that’s the wish of the girl and her parents then it should go ahead.

“The majority of the hardliners were from Birmingham and Southall and they have been responsible for damage to another temple in Walsall.

“The committee had accepted the booking and it should have gone ahead. Local families went to the gates to complain, but there was no one to stop the militants.”

The group briefly left the temple, believing a holy book had been removed from the site and taken to the Lydiard Park ceremony.

Mr Bains said: “They arrived at 7.30am and stayed until 12.30pm. They left because they believed the holy book had been taken to Lydiard Park. They couldn’t find it so they came back to the temple and stayed until 2pm.

“I think the reason no one from the community went in is because they know the record of these people. The hardliners would have met any challenge with violence. People were afraid they would lose their lives if they challenged them.”

Dr Harbans Popli, a senior figure in Swindon's Sikh community, also condemned the militants after speaking to the bride’s family.

He said: “The family is very upset and angry. This is against all our morals and principles.”

The militants posted footage of the occupation on YouTube, showing a hooded hardliner standing by the gate while a local woman protests against their action.

A spokesman for Wiltshire Police said: “We can confirm that we dealt with a small protest by a group of men in Swindon on Saturday. The protest was conducted peacefully.

“We believe the protestors objected to an event which was due to take place at the Swindon gurdwara. Our officers continue to liaise with the protestors and the community.”

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Is this true, did they really hold their sword to the Giani Ji's neck? All of the UK sangat needs to go right now to the Giani Ji and interview what happened.

It's good that they stopped it but there's a way to protest such things, violence isn't a means of achieving this goal.

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Is this true, did they really hold their sword to the Giani Ji's neck? All of the UK sangat needs to go right now to the Giani Ji and interview what happened.

It's good that they stopped it but there's a way to protest such things, violence isn't a means of achieving this goal.

One thing I learnt over the years, don't always believe what you read in the papers...

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One thing I learnt over the years, don't always believe what you read in the papers...

I know this and I don't really believe it either but sangat should be proactive when such things occur. Form advocacy groups, counter journalistic cross examination, and proactively seek to find out the truth and expose it.

In this case a mere interviewing the Giani ji or committee from a 3rd party after explaining everything with understanding would be a good way to go about this.

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Perhaps people need to articulately respond in the comments sections of the above articles. Otherwise the accusations of bigotry and racism as per the articles will remain as the focus.

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who is raghbir singh he should be ashamed going against the akal takhat

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This is where you need panthic.org and their guerilla war journalism....where you guys man? tut tut ..lol ..this is a time we need your resources..!!

Have any of the panthic publications reported these morchay? Can't find anything and the intentions of Sikh naujwaan are in danger of being misinterpreted in our own community again.

UK Sikhs still need stonger propoganda machine, looks like Sikh Channel and Sangat TV aren't really up for reporting the Sikh background of why things happened in Hull and Swindon.

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“They went inside the temple, locked the doors and switched the security cameras off.

“We had a caterer in charge of the breakfast. They ate all the food and then told him ‘go or we’ll kill you’.

LOL!!!!!!! That is funny.

Anyhow not too fond of the tactics and the press story sound alarmist at best. But at least there is noise being made about these "mixed marriages".

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Good job by those guys stopping this Anand karaj. Shame on the gyani for ignoring Akal Takhts hukamnama. It had nothing to do with color of skin as said in the newspaper.

But they had no business going to wherever the legal marriage was taking place and trying to stop that.

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