A Sikh preacher, head of the Dera Sacha Khand, a religious sect, was shot dead in Vienna amidst a violent clash involving the Dera Sacha Khand and the fundamentalist Sikhs.
In a conflict involving two rival Sikh groups, the leader of one group shot the other to death in a violent religious dispute on Monday. Sant Rama Nand, leader of the Dalit Sect that follows Guru Ravidass, a Dalit saint of the 14th century Bhakti movement of India, was attacked during a religious ceremony by six men armed with knives and a pistol, reports BBC.
Fifteen other people were injured in the clash including the preacher of the fundamentalist Sikh group, Sant Nirajnan Das. He is now reported to be stable. The fundamentalist Sikh group accused the other group of disrespect of the Sikh holy book, the Guru Granth Sahib.
BBC’s Bethany Bell reports,
The fight involved five men armed with knives and another with a pistol.
The temple, situated in Vienna-Rudolfsheim, in the 15th district of the capital, is run by the devotees of Shri Guru Ravidas, who founded a sect called Dera Sach Khand. Several hundred worshippers were present in the temple at the time of the attack.
Heavy violence ensued in India, soon after the incident, with followers of both the groups clashing amidst aggressive protests and vandalism of public and private property, torching cars, buses and trains. A curfew has been imposed in the city of Jalandhar, Punjab and the government of Punjab has called for the army to be on standby.
Sikh leaders and diaspora across the world have condemned the violence depicting it as harmful to the image of Sikhs living outside India.
The place of conflict, a Guru Ravidas temple is not a Sikh Gurudwara. Although they also house the holy book of the Sikhs, Guru Granth Sahib, they follow the Ravidas ideology. Most members of the community also do not follow the Sikh tenets and are a separate entity.