Eight people were injured in violence that broke out between two rival factions of the Delhi Sikh gurdwara management body on the premises of a central Delhi gurdwara near Parliament on Thursday afternoon.
While members of one outfit and the police claimed no shots were fired, eyewitnesses and those belonging to the other group contested their claim.
Armed with daggers, batons, swords and licenced weapons, activists and members owing allegiance to the two separate groups allegedly ran amok after a bitter confrontation over gaining access to a meeting ostensibly organised to discuss a proposed amendment to a bill ahead of the upcoming Delhi Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (DSGPC) elections.
Police said nearly a hundred men belonging to the Akali Dal Delhi Sarna (ADDS), headed by Paramjit Singh Sarna, and the Shiromani Akali Dal (Delhi), led by Manjit Singh G.K, clashed at the gurdwara Rakabganj Sahib around 11 am.
“The confrontation was triggered around 11:15 am and went on till 12:30 pm. Two cross-cases, registered against those who were part of the confrontation from each side, have been registered under different sections pertaining to rioting and attempt to murder. No shots were fired during the episode,” maintained Rajan Bhagat, additional DCP and spokesperson, Delhi Police.
Police said two companies were rushed to the spot after initial reports were generated and within minutes reinforcements were also sent.
According to eyewitnesses, the episode was triggered after Shiromani leader Singh and around two dozen of his supporters reached the venue to attend the proposed meeting around 11 am.
However, according to members of Sarna’s faction, Singh and his posse were stopped from entering since the meeting was not a general body meeting and was meant to be attended only by those specifically invited.
“I had a right to enter the meeting in any case. I had been invited as a special guest by the general secretary, Gurmeet Singh Shunty, and had a letter to prove it. But the other side was waiting for me and my supporters. This was a pre-planned attack,” said Singh, who was admitted to Ram Manohar Lohia hospital with serious injuries.
Countering Singh’s allegation, Sarna stated, “When Manjeet Singh was stopped at the entrance, he began abusing the guards before asking his men to attack them. They were the ones who, through their personal security officers (PSOs), opened fire first. We acted purely in self defence.”