54 bailed, one in custody after UK gurdwara standoff
The Warwickshire Police said 54 accused were granted bail until next month, while a 30-year-old man remains in custody as investigations are on the nature of the weapons used during the incident.
The force had made 55 arrests on charges of “aggravated trespass” after an involving armed officers at Gurdwara Sahib in the town of Leamington Spa. They were responding to reports of a gang of men, carrying “bladed weapons”, disrupting a mixed race wedding ceremony. “Officers responded to an initial report of a group of masked men, initially thought to be around 20, forcing their way into the Gurdwara.
“These were reported to be carrying a range of bladed items, some of which were initially described as not being for ceremonial use. Officers assessed the situation and responded accordingly,” the Wariwckshire Police said in a statement on Monday.
“Having contained the situation, it became apparent that there were 55 masked men involved, all of whom were arrested on suspicion of aggravated trespass. Blades seized so far have been ceremonial. Another non-ceremonial weapon was seized. This is an ongoing investigation and we will be investigating the initial report that other weapons were involved,” it adds.
Kirpans or short swords, are legally allowed to be worn by Sikhs in the UK as a symbol of their faith. However, the police have seized a blade not believed to be ceremonial.
Meanwhile, it has emerged that protesters from Sikh 2 Inspire and Sikh Youth UK were demonstrating in what they describe as a “peaceful protest” against an inter-faith Anand Karaj or Sikh matrimonial ceremony taking place at the Gurdwara.
The group believes Gurdwara Sahib Leamington Spa on Tachbrook Drive is a “rogue” group, which decided to break an agreement made last year between over 300 Sikh representatives at a meeting led by the Sikh Council UK to not hold an Anand Karaj in inter-faith cases. Sikh Youth UK said, “Local Sikh youth attended the early morning prayers at the Gurdwara and began a sit-down peaceful protest by reciting prayers.”
“There was no violence, so it does not make sense why Kirpans were confiscated and have to remain in police custody. We feel the police should not be holding onto the Kirpans...we are not sure where the media has picked up their distorted narrative which damages the reputation of the Sikhs,” added Gurmail Singh of Sikh Council UK.