Photo: Lydia/ Flickr

Leamington Spa’s Gurdwara Sahib occupied and armed protesters arrested

The Gurdwara Sahib Leamington & Warwick has been occupied for most of today by over 50 people, in a protest believed to be a row over mixed marriages.

The protest lasted eight hours, and although many of the group were said to be armed with blades and knives, nobody was injured.

Armed police were called to the scene not long after the protest began, and by 4 pm had arrested 55 men on suspicion of aggravated trespass.

In the latest update from Warwickshire police, all but one of those arrested have now been released on bail following the incident. One person still remains in police custody.

Warwickshire police reported that all but one of the weapons seized from the men were kirpans, ceremonial blades that Sikhs are considered legally allowed to carry as a symbol of their faith.

The intruders reportedly were masked, and carried the ceremonial blades when they entered the temple reception area this morning. A religious service was reportedly underway at the time, with several dozen people attending, according to the Guardian.

The protest is believed to be a response to, and culmination of recent local disputes over mixed marriages in the Sikh community.

A mixed marriage between a Sikh bride and a Hindu groom was due to take place later on that day in the temple, which had to be postponed as a result of the protest.

Throughout the day, police and local religious people went into the Gurdwara to try and negotiate with the protesters, in an attempt to bring the protest to a peaceful end.

In recent months, the Gurdwara has seen various attempts of intruders trying to gain entry to the building over disputes over mixed marriages, but until now were blocked by security staff at the temple.

A spokesperson for Warwickshire Police, Supt David Gardner, told The Guardian that the protest was a result of “the escalation of a local dispute”.

He commented: “Over the coming days we will be working with the local Sikh community to address some of the ongoing issues that have culminated in today’s events.”

Second-year Chemistry student, Rachel Bailey, was in the area at the time, and saw the incident from outside the temple. She described how there was “police tape extended across the street, and only residents were allowed through into the area.”

The incident follows international outrage after the Gurdwara Committee’s plans for a party venue next door.

The Gurdwara Sahib Leamington & Warwick is the largest Sikh temple in the UK, and believed to be the largest outside of India, making it a prime target for protests.

The occupation has sparked coverage on a national level, including the BBC and The Guardian.

Warwickshire Police and the Gurdwara Sahib Leamington & Warwickhave have both been contacted, and this article will be updated following their replies.


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