Austrian clash forces India curfew

May 25, 2009 12:00 am

, AMRITSAR, May 25 – Indian police imposed a curfew in the northern city of Jalandhar on Monday after violence erupted over a clash between rival Sikh communities in Austria that left one man dead.

Troops in Jalandhar guarded streets to halt overnight rioting in which mobs pelted buses with stones and torched vehicles in several towns across the state of Punjab.

Rival Sikhs fought in a temple in the Austrian capital Sunday, with 56-year-old guru Sant Rama Nand shot dead and about 30 people injured.

A second guru, Sant Niranjan Dass, 66, was wounded in the dispute, which centres around caste-based disagreements.

The two gurus, who belong to a group representing low-caste Sikhs, were visiting Austria from India and were preaching when they were attacked.

The temple in Vienna, which opened in 2005, has campaigned against the caste system that remains popular among some Sikhs. It has been accused of not strictly following Sikh traditions.

In Jalandhar, where many low-caste Sikhs live, protesters furious at the guru’s death erected road blocks on national highways to stop traffic.

"Officers have been deployed at sensitive points to check any untoward incidents," said police superintendent R.K. Jaiswal.

No injuries were reported from the disturbances in Punjab.

The Sikh religious community has about 2,800 followers in Austria and 25 million worldwide, most of them in northern India.


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