1. ITV Report

Police urged to apologise after 55 arrested and armed officers sent to Sikh temple protest

A police cordon was put in place around the temple. Credit: Perry Phillips/Twitter

Sikh community leaders have accused police of over-reacting to a peaceful demonstration after 55 protesters were arrested at a temple and armed officers attended.

The Sikh Federation UK (SFUK) urged Warwickshire Police to apologise for its "disproportionate" response to reports that a group carrying blades and wearing masks had forced their way into Leamington Gurdwara.

After being called to the Gurdwara Temple shortly after 6.45am on Sunday morning, Warwickshire Police sent armed officers as they believed the 55 men were carrying "bladed items".

After several hours police arrested 55 men on suspicion of aggravated trespass, seized ceremonial blades, and one non-ceremonial weapon.

In a statement the SFUK said the men had walked into the Gurdwara to protest against an interfaith marriage being carried out as a Sikh religious ceremony.

We stand with those who peacefully protested against the actions of the Management Committee at Leamington Gurdwara.

It now materialises the police were told masked men forced their way into the Gurdwara carrying a range of bladed items other than Kirpans, that are worn at all times by initiated Sikhs, and it may have been suggested they were holding hostages...

This was a small group of young protesters who justifiably objected to an interfaith marriage that was to be carried out as a Sikh religious ceremony.

– SFUK national press secretary, Gurjeet Singh

Warwickshire Police said that they "responded accordingly" after reports that the men were "carrying a range of bladed items, some of which were initially described as not being for ceremonial use".

Secretary general of the Sikh Council UK, Gurmail Singh, said that the protest had occurred because the marriage ceremony was reserved for two Sikhs, but an interfaith marriage had been carried out.

It was unpleasant. I think peaceful demonstrations, I have no issue with that. Even if it is at a wedding, as long as it's peaceful. It's not ideal. We don't want to spoil anybody's special day.

I think the issue here is that the management committee which books these weddings needs to also reflect on what they are actually doing.

There is nobody opposed to inter-racial, inter-ethnic weddings, that's not an issue. But when you are talking about a religious law, ordinary people don't have the right to change something.

The view remains that that wedding ceremony is reserved for two Sikhs.

– Secretary general of the Sikh Council UK, Gurmail Singh