Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Gurdwara & Guru Jee's Saroops Burnt in Attack

On the afternoon of Monday 16th March 2009, Gurdwara Sikh Sangat in Bow, East London, caught fire. At approximately 1.30pm, whilst some women were attending a Satsang a black/mixed race male person unknown to the Sangat entered the Gurdwara Sahib through a side entrance. One of the ladies from the Sangat came from the main Darbaar Sahib and confronted the intruder coming down from the top floor and inquired why he was in the building. He replied that he had come to meet someone and then ran out.

Shortly after a fire was discovered coming from the top floor Sachkhand room. Most of the gurdwara’s roof collapsed and afterwards it was realised that eleven Saroops of Sri Guru Granth Sahib jee had been burnt. The only Saroop to be untouched by the fire was the Saroop from inside the main Darbaar Sahib, which was brought out.

Photos of the desecrated Saroops of Guru Jee:

One Sangat member is also reported of having said that in the past few weeks he had noticed racist graffiti on one of the Gurdwara’s outer walls.

Photos from the Sanskaar (cremation) of the 11 Saroops of Guru Jee

Although this attack took place over 2 weeks ago, it seems that this case is not being taken seriously by the police. We cannot jump to conclusions of who is responsible for the fire, however the police seems to be not doing enough to catch the culprits or investigate the cause. The mainstream media coverage of the incident has also been very poor. Perhaps this is a reflection of the community leader's response?

>>Important - Humble Request to all Sangat:<<
Below is a template letter which the Sangat can use to email their local MPs and help bring this tragic case to the attention of people who can hopefully put pressure on the police to take this case more seriously and take swift action.

Dear [add MP Name]

RE: Community Attack - Serious Action Required

I am writing to you in concern with Sikh Gurdwara that was set alight and burnt to the ground on 16th March 2009 in Bow, East London. This attack has left the Sikh community across the country in deep shock and want the authorities to carry out a thorough investigation to catch the culprits.

According eyewitnesses inside the Gurdwara during the attack, they saw a black/mixed-raced unidentified person running through the Gurdwara building just before the congregation realised that the building has been set alight. The fire was a direct attack on the Sikh community which has been ignored by the main stream media and handled poorly by the police. The attacker(s) burnt eleven copies of the Sikhs’ Sacred Scripture, Guru Granth Sahib, which the Sikhs revere as the Living Guru, the Living Voice of eternal wisdom that guides the community and teaches a humanitarian embracing message. The burning of one copy of Guru Granth Sahib is considered the most sacrilegious of all acts, however the burning of eleven copies of Guru Granth Sahib has scared the UK Sikh community.

No arrests have been made by the Police and this has brought about feelings of frustration, anxiety and anger amongst the Sikh Community which is bent upon ensuring that the perpetrators are brought to justice. Failure of finding the culprits motivates the individual or gang and others to do a similar attack on other Gurdwaras.

There is a strong feeling amongst the Sikh Community that the Police do not understand the gravity of the crime or that the Police do not care. The community feel that this crime is low on the list of Police priorities. This is illustrated by the fact that they interpreted the crime as being a criminal act to "property", thereby treating the incident only as one of arson.

I urge you to bring forward this matter to the police and government, as the growing feeling of resentment towards the Police needs to be taken seriously.

I await a response from you.



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