Police attend protest at Sikh Temple in Kelowna

Police attend temple protest

Police have been called to the Okanagan Sikh Temple multiple time in recent days over a dispute between a group of international students and the temple.

Punjabi actor/lawyer and activist Deep Sidhu died in a car crash on Feb. 15, leading to the group of students to show up at the temple in Rutland on Feb. 19 to hold a vigil.

Videos posted to social media show a group of people angrily leaving the temple, while another shows the RCMP on scene while protesters rally outside.

RCMP say they were called to the temple on Feb. 19 and 20, leading to a later protest on Feb. 20.

"There were approximately 100 protestors in attendance. Officers spoke with the complainant and the group who was protesting. Officers remained on scene to keep the peace. The protest lasted approximately three hours," says RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Tammy Lobb.

RCMP says the event was peaceful and there were no arrests or incidents related to the protest.

The secretary for the Okanagan Sikh Temple, Andy Sandhu, says the temple does not permit candlelight vigils, and after speaking with its membership, they decided against allowing the event to take place at the temple.

"When something is controversial, such as this, we share that information," Sandhu said, adding the congregation supports the decision completely.

"We pray and we read our holy book but the temple was closed and a whole bunch of people (showed up). This is not the way to do things. They were calling us names, that's when we called the RCMP," Sandhu says.

One of the organizers of the event indicates they were kicked out of the temple because it is private property, "all (we) wanted to do was have a tribute an Indian hero, Deep Sidhu."

Andy Sandhu says the temple is a place of worship, "this is not the place for grievance. If they are unhappy with the Indian government they can go to the Consul General of India."

Sandhu believes things have cooled down since the tensions boiled over on the weekend, but he feels intimidated, "we did nothing wrong."

"We welcome them. They used to come, eat and serve and pray (at the temple) and the doors are still open for them."

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