The Guardian – Man pleads not guilty over Sikh temple [gurdwara] protest

Kulvinder Bir Singh, 37, accused of religiously aggravated criminal damage over protest against interfaith marriage in Leamington Spa

A man has appeared in court over a protest against an interfaith marriage at a Sikh temple in Warwickshire.

Kulvinder Bir Singh, 37, is accused of destroying signs relating to a marriage that was due to take place in the Gurdwara Sahib temple in Leamington Spa in September last year.

At the magistrates court in the Warwick Justice Centre on Wednesday, Singh pleaded not guilty to religiously aggravated criminal damage. He asked for the matter to be sent to the crown court for trial.

Singh, of Coventry, is one of two people charged with a criminal offence over the protest. On the day of the protest the police arrested more than 55 people.

Singh is accused of breaking into the temple in the early hours as part of a mass demonstration and pulling down signs relating to an interfaith marriage that was meant to take place on 11 September 2016.

Earlier this month a 33-year-old man was accused of committing a religiously aggravated assault during the same protest, and he also opted to be tried by a jury. It has not been decided whether the two men will be tried together.

Gursharan Singh is alleged to have assaulted an official at the temple. Gursharan Singh, who gave his address to the court as that of a Coventry law firm, indicated a not guilty plea during a brief appearance at Leamington Spa magistrates court.

Magistrates granted Gursharan Singh conditional bail to appear at Warwick crown court for a further hearing on 10 February.

Those who run the temple say protests have become an unfortunate recurrence during the wedding season. Eventually the disrupted wedding did take place the following Monday, but the protest sent shockwaves through the close-knit community.

Warwickshire police said no further action would be taken against 50 of the 55 people arrested. A 28-year-old man from Coventry was given a caution for religiously aggravated criminal damage. No further action was taken against a 31-year-old from Oldbury, and a 39-year-old man from Birmingham has been rebailed.

The protests were organised by a group called Sikh Youth UK, part of an increasingly active youth movement within the community.

Deepa Singh, who describes himself as a Sikh Youth UK coordinator, previously told the Guardian that the group had thousands of members including teachers, barristers and accountants. Others estimate membership to be in the low hundreds.

Another member, Shamsher Singh, said: “More and more young people are becoming interested in the true interpretation of what it means to be Sikh.

“The elder generation arrived [in the UK] and fitted their faith round the need to assimilate, survive and to get work. This led to a stripping back of the spiritual nature of what it means to be a Sikh to a series of symbols.

“Now younger people want to reclaim Sikhism as a deeply spiritual, peaceful and encompassing religion.”

Sikhi is not a religion but a way of life. Disrupting weddings is not part of any spiritual path. Of course those that want to marry in the Gurdwara need proper instruction about that way of life. The problem is that many Gurdwaras are neither interested nor able to do this.
Man in Blue


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