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2 stabbed as Sikh groups clash outside California gurdwara

November 12, 2012 13:46 IST
Two people were stabbed and a few others were injured outside a Sikh Temple Gurdwara in Tierra Buena, Yuba City, California on Saturday as two groups clashed over power struggle to control the shrine.  

According to the Sutter County police dispatcher, the first call about the incident came in at 6.36 pm from the gurdwara. However, the police did not confirm how many were stabbed or injured. According to local media -- -- two men were stabbed, a third was assaulted and more than a dozen were pepper-sprayed.

"The security guards and not the cops must have pepper-sprayed," Rachpal Singh Purewal, president of the Sikh Temple Gurdwara, told

He said that he was in the meeting room inside the gurdwara, when the incident happened. "We just finished the gurdwara's board of directors meeting and heard about the incident outside the gurdwara premises."

"This is unfortunate. I am very saddened by what happened," said Purewal. "They can sit down and talk it out if there are any differences. There is no need to bring the fight to the holy place."

The incident occurred just a week after the famous annual Nagar Kirtan parade was hosted by gurdwara, which was attended by about 70,000 people from across the world.

The gurdwara was built in 1969, Purewal said. There are 73 members on the gurdwara's board of directors and 60 attended the meet.     

Since the gurdwara was built, the election of the board members was held every four years. But in August a decision was made to hold the election every six years.

The tension is "partially related" to the board election, said Purewal.  

He said that hosting the election every four years was too costly. "The expenditure is about $1,20,000. That money could be used for the development of the temple and related activities. But it seems some people are not happy with the new decision," he said.

Explaining the election process, Purewal said that a president was chosen every year by the board of director members and these members are elected by the temple people.

At present, there are about 4,500 people who participate in the gurdwara election. He said that the Saturday meeting was just a general meeting after the annual Nagar Kirtan parade.

He said, "I hate to say but there are old people who try to dominate the temple affairs." He refused to take any names. "My message is that we want it (gurdwara) to belong to the public."

On beefing up security at the gurdwara, he said the incident happened despite the guards. "Increasing the security force is not the answer. I am a peaceful person and I want people to remain peaceful," said Purewal.

The gurdwara was built by a group of Sikh community leaders -- Udham Singh Purewal, Bakhtawar Singh Purewal and Sardar Didar Singh Bains, California's famous peach grower.


Ritu Jha