Ugly turn to gurudwara politics, rivals clash

At least eight in hospital after DSGMC and SAD (Badal) groups attack each other

A clash between rival factions at Gurudwara Rakabganj left eight persons injured on Thursday. Members of Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC) and Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) accused each other of starting the clash, in which four members from each group were injured.

Police were called at 11.15 am, with the SAD (Badal) leader Manjeet Singh claiming that he was not allowed to attend a meeting of the executive members of the committee. He accused DSGMC members, headed by Paramjit Singh Sarna, of planning the attack.

Sarna , on the other hand, claimed Singh's supporters opened fire, forcing DSGMC members to take retaliatory action. Police denied the claims of firing and said gurudwara property was vandalised.

"Singh and 15 to 20 of his supporters went to the gurudwara to attend the executive body meeting. Only Singh is an elected member, so entry was denied to his supporters. This led to an argument, following which a scuffle ensued. Singh's men joined the scuffle and Sarna's group attacked them with swords and sticks. The situation was brought under control soon after police were called. Reinforcements were deputed to control the situation," a senior police officer said.

Supporters of Singh's group said he was denied entry on the ground that it was a meeting of the executive members, and he was not one. Singh, however, was carrying a letter, authorised by DSGMC general secretary Gurmeet Singh Shunty, stating that Singh was a "special invitee" to the meeting, a supporter said. They said Singh was stopped by security guards.

Singh said: "This was a trap and they (Sarna's men) knew I was coming. They had planned the entire incident. When we were entering, Sarna called his men. They didn't want to let us in. Sarna's men are ruining the system."

Singh is at Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital's ICU with injuries on the head and limbs.

Harvinder Singh Sarna, an executive member of DSGMC, said: "Why did they (Singh and his supporters) come for a meeting they were not required to attend? Who is the general secretary to issue an invitation to a member? Only the president of the committee, Paramjit Singh Sarna, is authorised to issue an invitation. The meeting was only for 15 members — five office bearers and 10 executive members."

He claimed Singh attacked and abused the guards. "They tried to loot us, attack us and opened fire. We did not start the shooting. We only reacted to their move. They destroyed gurudwara property and threw bricks at us. They destroyed the building, broke window panes and flower pots. If he is injured, it is his fault. Why was he trespassing? We called the police," Harvinder said.

Delhi Police PRO Rajan Bhagat said: "Two cross-cases for rioting and causing hurt have been registered. Investigations are underway."

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