US court rules against forcible takeover of gurdwara

New York, Oct 21 (IANS) A US court has ruled that a gurdwara management faction in California that forcibly took its control in June 2013 acted illegally.

The court on Tuesday said the defendants must give up the control of the Turlock gurdwara’s facilities, records and finances immediately, Turlock Journal reported.

The court also prohibited the current administration of the gurdwara from serving for the next five years.

According to court documents, a rift developed between two factions of the gurdwara management over the decision of the then newly-formed board of directors to terminate the contract of Attar Singh, a priest of the Sikh temple.

The disagreement turned physical in June 2013. After a few weeks of violence, the group protesting the decision changed the door locks of the gurdwara and took control of the administration, the documents said.

The directors, who issued the termination of services orders to the priest, filed a complaint against this group alleging that the change was forced and occurred without a proper election.

“I am pleased and thankful that this ruling came out,” Harinder Grewal, a member of the complainant faction, said. “Nobody should ever use threat of force to take over, not only god’s house, but any property or organisation.”

Calling the ruling as “historic win”, Grewal said, “After a two-year legal battle, the legal order was loud and clear.”

The board members, who filed the complaint will resume control of the gurdwara until the next election in April 2016 under the court’s supervision.

Earlier this year, in a similar case of power struggle in San Jose gurdwara in California, a court ordered re-elections to resolve the issue between the two factions of the gurdwara management with different agendas.

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