Power Struggle At Indiana Sikh Temple Explodes Into 150 Person Brawl

Joshua Gill | Religion Reporter

A dispute over leadership at a Sikh temple in Indiana descended into a 150 person brawl that left nine people injured and required police intervention Sunday.

The fight started over a power transfer between old and new leaders of Gurdwara Sikh Temple south of Indianapolis, according to WishTV. The process for a leadership change at the temple occurs every two years — normally without incident. In this case, the old leaders refused to relinquish their positions, leading to a fight that broke out during a Sunday worship service, Greenwood Deputy Police Chief James Ison said.

“It’s only a couple of people, two or three people, who are making the problem for everybody,” Jagbish Singh of the Sikh Society of Indiana told IndyStar.

that The brawl involved about 150 people and police and medical personnel responded to the scene, Greenwood Assistant Police Chief Matthew Fillenwarth said, according to The Associated Press. Three factions within the temple were involved in the dispute. Nine people sustained minor injuries over the course of the brawl, and at least four were taken to the hospital. An unknown assailant attacked people with pepper spray and someone reported they found a pepper spray bottle discarded in a trash can, witnesses said. It is unclear whether those who received medical treatment for injuries were attacked with pepper spray.

Worshipers at the temple wore a kind of dagger known as a kirpan, which is a religious symbol featured as part of their ceremonial garb. Police are investigating whether any of the daggers were used in the brawl; but so far, no brawl-related stab wounds have been reported.

Police are continuing to investigate the brawl by interviewing witnesses and reviewing the temple’s security footage. Police Chief John Laut will meet with the leaders of the three factions involved and their lawyers in order to help facilitate peaceful negotiations, Laut told IndyStar.

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