HOUNSLOW, West London, UK—On Saturday, December 8, violence erupted at Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Alice Way, Hounslow, after a protest turned violent. Aggression and intimidation close to 100 protestors led to London’s Metropolitan Police surrounding the Gurdwara and entering the Darbar Sahib with shoes on.
Several people, including a young child, were left with injuries after getting caught up in protestors pushing the police officers. Another young man was choked by a protestor in the Darbar but freed by women in the Sangat enraged by the hooligan behaviour of the protestors.
According to the President of the Gurdwara, S. Gurmeet Singh, a large number of the protestors had traveled from Birmingham and Wolverhampton. Other protestors had come from Slough and Southall. Leaders of West Midlands Gurdwaras associated with Gurdwara Guru Hargobind Sahib Tividale were present as protestors and were seen instigating youth.
Last month, a video statement was made from Gurdwara Guru Hargobind Sahib Tividale in the presence of other Gurdwara representatives in the West Midlands, threatening protests at Gurdwaras wherever Nirvair Khalsa Jatha was invited. Speaking on behalf of 5 Gurdwaras in Sandwell, Birmingham, the video called for all Gurdwaras to ban Nirvair Khalsa Jatha for “preaching against Gurmat”. These threats have been further fuelled by internet trolls on Facebook who have been targeting Harinder Singh with vicious messages of hate, leading to incitement of potential violence.
After an aggressive protest and threats of violence made at Gurdwara Guru Tegh Bahadur Sahib in Leicester, Harinder Singh took the decision to postpone all UK programmes. However, two weeks ago, the group had decided to continue their programmes, beginning with the programme that was scheduled yesterday at Hounslow.
Harinder Singh of Nirvair Khalsa Jatha (NKJ) was scheduled to do a programme at the Gurdwara at 6.30pm. Speaking from the speaker stand, the Head Granthi of the Gurdwara invited the protesters to come to the stage “if they had anyone who wanted to do 15, 20 or 30 minutes of Katha of Gurbani.”
“In the absence of anyone taking up the offer, Harinder Singh will be given the stage in accordance to the majority of the Sangat’s wishes,” he told the sangat.
Video footage shows one from Willenhall, standing up and saying they are here to oppose and stop Harinder Singh. Seconds into Harinder Singh being invited to the stage, others stood up and began shouting and the situation soon escalated into violence.
One eyewitness reported, “Several anonymous Facebook IDs have been set up that have time and again posted unsubstantiated accusations of grooming and sexual misbehaviour by Harinder Singh of Nirvair Khalsa Jatha, and other nonsense.” He added, “The Facebook IDs is part of a wider campaign to instigate hatred and violence with unsupported claims against any preacher who does not fit a particular group’s religious ideology. I hope the law enforcement authorities take strict action against those stirring trouble in the Sikh community.”
On 15 July 2015, after an investigation of a complaint, the UK Police dismissed all charges against Harinder Singh. Sikh24 urges all those with credible proof against Harinder Singh or other members of the Nirvair Khalsa Jatha the Police and Sri Akal Takht Sahib.
This kind of witch hunting is a recent phenomenon in the Sikh community and could lead to severe consequences for anyone who has differing views of Sikhi to another religious group. If there is an opposition to any preacher for their religious views or issues relating to their moral character, then individuals, or groups should take credible proofs they have collected to the representatives of Sri Akal Takht Sahib and or the national Sikh body of the country they live, like the Sikh Council UK in this case, to investigate and take action. Defaming preachers and individuals on the Internet with no proof or evidence using anonymous IDs is not a Sikh way. Furthermore, for any individual or group to disturb the Guru’s Darbar with profanity and violence makes them liable for ‘Thankhah’ (chastisement) in accordance with Panthik traditions.
A spokesperson from the Metropolitan Police said: “Police were called on the evening of Saturday, 8 December following reports of a disturbance at the Gurdwara Singh temple in Alice Way, Hounslow. A number of people are believed to have gained access to the temple to protest. Police attended and worked with temple staff to calm the situation.”
Twenty five police officers had to form a human chain around the stage to protect Harinder Singh’s safety from the angry protestors. Sikhs worldwide have condemned those who caused disruption, intimidation, and violence on Saturday night, causing Police to intervene with their shoes on and heads uncovered, violating the sanctity of the Guru’s Darbar.
No arrests have been made so far.