50,000 pound reward offered for catching London gurdwara ‘arsonist’

May 16th, 2009 - 8:57 am ICT by IANS  

Harbhajan Singh London, May 16 (IANS) Complaining of police inaction, members of a London gurdwara which was gutted in a suspected arson attack two months ago have offered a 50,000 pound reward for catching the culprit.
Devotees also held a demonstration at the site of the gurdwara.

“This is more than just an arson attack on the building. It was an attack on the Sikh religion itself,” said Jagmohan Singh, a trustee of the Gurdwara Sikh Sangat, the east London shrine that was burnt down March 16.

“Police could be doing more, so we have to assist them with the reward. The community won’t sleep until the intruder is caught and brought to justice,” he said.

Speaking at a news conference held inside a tent in a park opposite the gurdwara Friday, Singh said the reward was aimed at tracking down and convicting an alleged intruder or arsonist who was spotted by a witness.

“This is a cause of concern for us that nobody has been arrested at the present moment, therefore now we are becoming proactive in order to facilitate their (police) investigation,” he added.

As many as 14 Saroops - Sikh holy books - were lost in the fire, which was described by police as suspicious.

With the fire having destroyed 75 percent of the temple building, including the roof, authorities said they needed to raise at least four million pounds to rebuild the gurdwara.

Singh said the entire community was devastated.

Devotees began rebuilding the gurdwara April 17 - a process that has the blessing of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) - with repair works to a first floor hall and langar (mess and kitchen) on the ground floor.

“These facilities are being created on a short term basis, whilst the plans for the main hall are in process,” said the gurdwara management, which has been in regular touch with the SGPC seeking advice and information.

“SGPC President Jathedar Avtar Singh sent a ‘Darshani Chanani’ from Sri Harmandar Sahib (complete with the set of Rumalai sahib) to inaugurate the first Diwan at Gurdwara Sikh Sangat. These chanani and rumalai sahib were personally delivered to Gurdwara Sikh Sangat by the Manager of ‘Sri Darbar Sahib’ Sri Amritsar Sahib, Sardar Harbhajan Singh Ji,” the gurdwara management said in a statement.

During his visit earlier this month, Harbhajan Singh also toured the damaged gurdwara and saw the repair work in progress.

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