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After duo’s acquittal, call for new probe into 2016 UK gurdwara protest

New probe has been demanded as the incident had brought the “law-abiding Sikh community into serious disrepute” with a massive over-reaction.

world Updated: Feb 08, 2018 20:35 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
UK gurdwara,Siks in UK,2016 uk gurdwara incident
The two had denied trying to disrupt an inter-faith wedding at the gurdwara.(Gurdwara Leamington and Warwick website)

An independent inquiry was demanded on Wednesday following the acquittal of two brothers who were charged for their actions during a protest at the Leamington Spa gurdwara on September 11, 2016, when the Warwickshire police were accused of over-reaction.

Gursharan Singh, 34, and Kulvinder Bir Singh, 38, had denied trying to disrupt an inter-faith wedding at the gurdwara. Jurors at the Birmingham Crown Court on Tuesday unanimously acquitted the two, who were alleged to have behaved in a religiously aggravated way.

Hailing from Coventry, the brothers told the court that the demonstration was a protest against alleged misuse of funds at the temple. Over 50 people were arrested during the protest; most of them were released on bail the same day.

Bhai Amrik Singh, chair of Sikh Federation (UK) said: “We welcome the unanimous decision of jurors to acquit the two brothers and feel vindicated as we have said all along these prosecutions were totally unnecessary.”

“This was a lawful and peaceful protest where Warwickshire police and the Crown Prosecution Service appear to have been given incorrect and false information by members of the Leamington Gurdwara management committee,” he further said.

“There should be an independent investigation as this incident at that time brought the law-abiding Sikh community into serious disrepute with a massive over-reaction with armed police being deployed on the anniversary of 9/11.”

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

The Sikh Federation said the community in the UK and across the world was appalled at the negative portrayal of Sikhs and their religious institutions in the media on the anniversary of 9/11 based on “irresponsible police press statement that was issued without checking the facts”.

It added that superintendent David Gardner of the Warwickshire police had met with representatives of the community after the incident, when he reportedly apologised for the police actions and for any distress it had caused.

First Published: Feb 08, 2018 20:34 IST