Police over-reaction to standoff at UK gurdwara 0%/100% 90

Police over-reaction to standoff at UK gurdwara

Written by Aravind   |   Posted: 09/12/2016 05:58 PM IST

Britain’s Sikh community is incensed with one of the country’s largest gurdwaras and Warwickshire police for their over-reaction to a protest that had led to 55 arrests and a day-long armed cordon outside the shrine.

The centre of the row is he concern in the community over weddings between Sikh and non-Sikh individuals and the August 2015 resolution of more than 180 gurdwaras in the Britain, that the ‘Anand Karaj’ (marriage) ceremony should be conducted only between Sikhs.

Anticipating an ‘Anand Karaj’ ceremony between a Sikh and a non-Sikh on Sunday, a group of protestors entered Gurdwara Sahib Leamington Spa and Warwick, about 150 km northwest of London, in the morning. The protestors were carrying the usual ‘kirpan’.

The management committee of the gurdwara, called the Warwickshire police, allegedly informing them that “masked men” had forced their entry, carrying bladed items other than ‘kirpans’. Police mounted an armed response around the gurdwara, including a helicopter.

Gurjeet Singh of the Sikh Federation (UK) said, “We condemn the over-reaction by the police and the disgraceful and inexcusable behaviour by the management committee at Leamington Gurdwara that have unashamedly brought the law-abiding Sikh community into disrepute by fuelling false and sensationalised media reports.”

Jasdev Singh Rai of the British Sikh Consultative Forum said that, “The issue of inter-faith marriages is complex. Most of the youth are brought up in UK. They are influenced by British idea of literal interpretation of law. These youth tend to legalistically interpret complex aspects of Sikh tradition. There is a need for a wider debate and clarity from institutions such as Akal Takht for appropriate guidance.”

Singh said: “The protesters were respectful and peaceful at all times in the gurdwara from video footage from inside the gurdwara. CCTV footage will show they simply walked into the gurdwara in the early hours and none of them were wielding swords. This was a small group of young protesters who justifiably objected to an inter-faith marriage that was to be carried out.”

By Premji

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