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HindustanTimes Thu,10 Jul 2014

'Attacked Namdhari leader to avenge sexual abuse'

IANS  London, February 11, 2014
First Published: 20:39 IST(11/2/2014) | Last Updated: 16:58 IST(12/2/2014)

The axe attack on Namdhari sect spiritual leader Satguru Uday Singh at a gurdwara last year during his visit to Britain was in revenge for alleged sexual abuse, a court has heard.

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Harjit Singh Toor, 27, man accused of that assault in the early hours of August 10, 2013, at Gurdwara Namdhari in Leicester city, has accepted giving the spiritual leader, who was on a tour from India, a broken arm and facial injuries with intent but denied making an attempt to murder.

The Birmingham Crown Court heard on Monday that the victim had stayed at the house of Toor's uncle the night before the attack. On the fateful day, Toor, dressed in the traditional white Namdhari clothing, walked slowly up the central aisle of the gurdwara, past a congregation of nearly 300, before pulling out the axe from under a shawl and leaping onto the stage.

Toor claimed that the victim had abused him sexually 20 years ago in India. The prosecution did not accept his claim. "The defendant is an orthodox Sikh but he was dressed like a Namdhari, wearing a white turban," the BBC quoted prosecutor Gordon Aspden as saying. "That manner of dress meant he was able to walk into the gurdwara without being challenged," Aspden said.

The court saw the surveillance camera footage of worshippers wrestling the defendant to the ground and kicking him. Namdharis believe in a succession of gurus after Guru Gobind Singh, while mainstream Sikhs, by edict of the last Guru they recognise, accept only the holy book as their guiding light.

Flashback

To settle a war of succession that followed the death of their leader, Satguru Jagjit Singh, the Namdharis made Uday Singh next "Satguru" of the sect, and within weeks of the appointment, toured the new community head around the world to establish his position.

In August 2013, hours after landing at Namdhari Centre in Leicestershire, UK, he was attacked by a man in a congregation and received grievous injuries trying to hold up his arms to defend himself.

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