Following an arson attack on a Gurdwara in Leeds, UK, this morning, Sikh PA have been in contact with both media and Sikh community figures to provide clear and accurate information about what happened and what the response has been. Here we share a statement directly from the Gurdwara involved and also the West Yorkshire Police on the incident.
ਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਜੀ ਕਾ ਖਾਲਸਾ,
ਵਾਹਿਗੁਰੂ ਜੀ ਕੀ ਫਤਹਿ।।
An incident took place at Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (GNNSJ) Gurdwara, Lady Pit Lane, Beeston, Leeds around 4am this morning when someone attempted to set the Gurdwara on fire. The smoke from the front door triggered the alarm and the situation was contained. A nearby mosque was also targeted around the same time.
We have attended a police emergency meeting today at 1:00 pm and have been assured by the Chief of Police that they are doing all they can to catch the criminals and will add extra police patrols in the area. They are working through the CCTV footage from around the mosque.
Focusing on south Leeds and the wider city, especially around all Gurdwaras and mosques, there will be more police presence strengthened by Leeds City Council community watch via CCTV.
If anyone in Leeds experiences any sort of hate crime incident they can report this to the Gurdwara Hate Crime Reporting Centre in partnership with the Police.
Fire prevention officers can be invited to visit all Gurdwaras to help make sure we have adequate provisions in place.
It is damaging for children to see their Gurdwara or mosque threatened like this. The police are happy to come to talk to children if the community feels this will not deter youngsters coming to the Gurdwara on their own.
Though this incident is days after Tommy Robinson’s court trial in Leeds, there is no evidence connecting this hate crime event with Tommy Robinson.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
Dalbir Singh Sagoo, coordinator of GNNSJ Sikh community Hate Crime forum based in Guru said: “Everyone must be more vigilant and must report any suspicious activity to the Hate Crime Reporting Centre in the Gurdwara or directly to the Police . We thank Waheguru for saving us all today as the Gurdwara is preparing the 35th barsi of Sikh Saint Sant Baba Puran Singh Ji Kericho-wale who initiated the GNNSJ organisation.”
Dalbir Singh Sagoo on behalf of Jathedar Pritpal Singh Dhanjal
West Yorkshire Police statement – Stronger communities team
Police are appealing for information following two arson attacks on places of worship in Leeds early today.
At 3.42am this morning (5/6) police were contacted by the fire service who were attending the Jamia Masjid Abu Huraira Mosque, in Hardy Street, Beeston, where the main door had been deliberately set on fire.
Firefighters had extinguished the fire before it had chance to spread, and damage was confined to the door and surrounding brickwork. It is believed flammable liquid had been used to start the fire.
At 4.19am, police were contacted by staff at the nearby Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha Gurdwara, in Lady Pit Lane, reporting someone had set fire to the front door around 30 to 40 minutes earlier.
The fire had triggered the smoke alarm and been put out quickly causing damage to part of the door and a pillar.
Detective Inspector Richard Holmes, of Leeds District CID, said: “We are treating both these incidents as linked given the closeness of the locations and the similar times that they have occurred.
“While our investigation is still at a relatively early stage, we do believe these premises have been specifically targeted as places of worship and we are treating both incidents as arsons and hate crimes.
“We are currently carrying out extensive enquiries, including checks on CCTV in both areas, and we would like to hear from anyone who has witnessed any suspicious activity or seen any person or vehicles in the areas around the time these incidents have occurred.
“We would also like to hear from anyone who has any other information that could assist the investigation.
“Clearly we will always treat incidents of this nature very seriously and will be doing everything we can to identify those responsible and bring them to justice.”
Inspector Ian O’Brien, who heads neighbourhood policing for south Leeds, said: “These incidents will cause an understandable level of concern in both the Muslim and Sikh communities in this area and we are working closely with key representatives from those communities to reassure them.
“Although it appears both locations have been specifically targeted as places of worship for these communities, there is nothing at this stage to suggest they are part of any wider pattern.
“We have increased our patrols of the area to provide visible reassurance to people living there and will continue to keep key community representatives informed as the investigation develops.
“Hate crimes that target particular communities and have the potential to cause divisions and tensions cannot and will not be tolerated and we will continue to do everything we can to find those responsible and support and reassure the communities affected.”
Stronger Communities Team