PIC BY MICHAEL SCOTT/CATERS NEWS - (PICTURED: Armed police on scene at the Gurdwara Sahib Temple in Leamington, Warwickshire after 20-30 men armed with blades stormed the Sikh Temple shortly before 7am.) - A group of between 20  30 men, armed with blades, have stormed a Sikh temple in Leamington, Warwickshire. According to police the men entered the Gurdwara Sahib in Tachbrook Park Drive shortly before 7am. Armed police have surrounded the temple and police negotiators and local religious leaders are inside the building, attempting to resolve the situation. It is believed the dispute is over a mixed-marriage. - SEE CATERS COPY

Calls for Leamington Gurdwara committee to resign following protester acquittal

The National Sikh Youth Federation (NSYF) have called for the managing committee of Gurdwara Sahib Leamington and Warwick ‘to issue an apology and resign’ following the acquittal of two protesters they alleged had broken the law during a demonstration at the gurdwara.

Kulvinder Bir Singh and Gursharan Singh were on trial at Birmingham Crown Court for charges made against them during a peaceful protest against Leamington Gurdwara for breaking religious rules set by the Akal Takht, the highest seat of authority of the Sikh faith. This week both were acquitted.

Following the acquittal, leading Sikh organisations including the Sikh Federation UK and Sikh Council UK led the call for an inquest into how Warwickshire police allowed the incident to escalate to a crown court trial, based only on claims from members and associate of the committee. See more info on their statements here.

NSYF further expressed Sikh community sentiment by suggesting the committee need to ‘stand down, issuing an apology to the Sikh activists, and most importantly to the Sangat (Sikh congregation) for bringing a Sikh institution into disrepute.’

The press release, available to view in full here, also condemned the ‘heavy-handed response by Warwickshire police’, as well as the ‘sensationalist reporting’ which followed.

NSYF called for Sikh Council UK to ‘put into place measures to ensure that the British police have a point of contact outside the of Gurdwara committees’ to avoid such issues in the future. Following an incident earlier this year when Coventry Telegraph published a story claiming Sikh militants were handing out Islamic fundamentalist group ISIS propaganda, based on a now debunked statement from a committee member of Guru Nanak Gurdwara of Coventry aiming to criminalise local Sikhs who opposed their management, the Sikh Press Association openly support this suggestion, as it was an exaggerated police report which led to headlines claiming ‘sword-wielding’ Sikhs ‘storm’ a temple at the Leamington protest on September 11 2016.

The response of many of the UK’s leading Sikh organisations in reaction to the acquittal of the two protesters amply demonstrates community sentiment in regards to the incident, which is one example of ongoing issues between Gurdwara management committees and the Sikh community.

For more information on such issues, email Media@SikhPA.com.

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