UK Sikh groups scramble to resolve 'splits and divisions' after Gurdwara disruption
By Barfi Culture Team
14th December 2018

This weekend the UK's largest Gurdwara in Southall, West London, was planning to hold a crisis meeting to resolve what it called "splits and divisions" amongst British Sikhs.

It has now postponed the meeting an hour after this story was first posted. (See update at the end)

The meeting was planned after a major disruption at another Gurdwara last week, also in West London, when a large group of Sikh activists disrupted a talk by a controversial preacher.

An earlier statement by the Sri Guru Singh Sabha Southall said:

"The serious incident that occurred at Gurdwara Sri Guru Singh Sabha Hounslow, on the 8th of December has now become all too common occurrence in Gurdwaras across the UK. Issues surrounding Parchariks (preachers) are spilling into disruption in Gurdwaras, resulting in aggression and Beadbi of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji."

"The splits and divisions in the UK Sangat continue to grow day by day, the issue of Parchariks, if not addressed, will be detrimental to the well-being of the Sikh community in the UK and will raise serious questions on the capability of Gurdwara Committees."

"Through Satguru Jee's blessings, we may be able to find a possible solution and work towards ending the escalating tension which may lead to further incidents of violence and Beadbi."

The background

On Saturday 8th December, police officers were called to Hounslow Singh Sabha Gurdwara in West London after an altercation broke out between different groups of Sikhs.

The protesters took issue with a controversial preacher, Harinder Singh, who was about to speak on stage. Several of his earlier events across the country had also been disrupted in a similar manner. (Barfi Culture is not going into the allegations against him for legal reasons.)

Shamsher Singh from the National Sikh Youth Federation told Barfi Culture: "For me the most distressing aspect of what took place in Hounslow has been the presence of the police in the Guru’s Darbar with their shoes on, and the absolute failure of the Gurdwara management to have any plan in place in anticipation of the situation deteriorating."

He added: "A fact that is more disturbing when you consider that the protestors maintain the management took an attitude of 'try and stop us'. From my conversations with the president he admitted to having completely underestimated the situation. Calls now for dialogue and planning a way forward are important but hard to take seriously as they only seem to emerge after the point where the conversation has already broken down."

The Sikh Council UK, which has been criticised for inaction over the issue, said it was also planning to meet with Harinder Singh's group (NKJ) and any parties that opposed him to find a solution.

Meeting postponed

Southall Gurdwara today said it had accepted a request from the Sikh Council to work together and therefore postponed its planned meeting this Saturday.

"The Sikh Council Board of Jathedars will be meeting on the 16th of December 2018 to consider in detail the issues surrounding the recent incident at Hounslow," said the update.

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