Vienna, May 30 (DPA) Some 1,000 members of an Indian Sikh sect met Sunday in Vienna to commemorate the assassination of their deputy leader Sant Nama Rand during his visit to the Austrian capital a year ago, media reported.
The attack on the temple of the Dera Sach Kand sect, allegedly carried out by a radical Sikh, had triggered widespread violence in India’s northern state of Punjab, leaving three dead and dozens injured.
Six Indian-born Sikh men were charged earlier this month with various crimes ranging from murder to attempted assault. A Vienna prosecutor said they had premeditated the attack on the temple May 24, 2009, in which 16 people, including the group’s leader, were injured.
At the memorial service, believers came not only from the small community living in Austria, but also from other European countries, from Canada and the US, Austrian press agency APA reported.
For security reasons, no high-ranking religious sect leader attended the event, which was closely guarded by an anti-terrorism police unit.
Vienna Dera Sach Kand spokeswoman Jasbir Jnagal said that the relationship between her group and mainstream Sikhs had cooled down in the past year. ‘There are no conflicts in Austria. We want everything to remain peaceful,’ she was quoted as saying.
Mainstream Sikhs often consider sects such as Dera Sach Khand to deviate from their true religion and practices, even though they share some teachings.
Sant Nama Rand had toured several European counties with sect leader Niranjan Dass last spring, which a group of radical Sikhs living in Madrid allegedly took as an opportunity for their plot. Several of the six suspects had travelled from Spain to Austria shortly before the attack, according to the prosecutor.