Man who led Vienna attack also in hospital

May 29th, 2009 - 5:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Vienna, May 29 (IANS) One of the six people detained for attacking two sect leaders at a gurdwara here is in critical condition himself, with gunshot wounds, an Austrian official said Friday. The death of one of the sect leaders sparked violent protests across the Indian state of Punjab early this week.
While sect head Niranjan Dass was recovering in a Vienna hospital, his second-in-command Rama Nand Dass was killed in the attack.

The man suspected to have led the group that attacked the two sect leaders and others last Sunday is in critical condition.

Austrian police spokesperson Michael Takacs told IANS that the man of Indian origin has been in hospital since Sunday where he is being treated for gun wounds received in the head.

“Yes, his condition is critical,” Takacs said.

Takacs said no fresh arrests have been made since Sunday but dozens of eyewitnesses continued to be interviewed.

“We expect a breakthrough over the weekend. At the moment we continue to collect information,” Takacs said.

In India, Punjab witnessed widespread violence for two days with followers of the Dera Sachh Khand sect damaging public and private property to protest the attack on their leaders in the Austrian capital.

Som Dev, president of Vienna’s Shri Guru Ravidass Sabha, told IANS: “On May 24 Sant Niranjan Dass ji and Sant Ramanandji were shot at our temple at point blank range. This is not a feud between two families or between two Sikh sects. It is a premeditated, planned and unprovoked attack on us by Sikh extremists. One of our gurus died.

“Many women and men have been hurt and children were used as shields by the perpetrators. This violence took place before the Guru Granth Sahib the holy book. Our mission is for peace, unity and equality and this was the message that Guru Ramanandji was preaching when he was assassinated on Sunday.”

According to the police, violence took place after six men abruptly stood up during a service at the gurdwara run by devotees of Guru Ravidass, a 14th century saint.

Located in Vienna’s busy 15th district the gurdwara turned into a battlefield when the two sect leaders from India were attacked while addressing a congregation of about 200 devotees.

A gun was fired and the attackers brandished knives. Rama Nand Dass, 56, who received wounds in the chest and back, died. More than 16 people were wounded.

Vienna public-prosecution office spokesman Gerhard Jarosch told reporters it was still not clear whether six people attacked the two sect leaders or more people were involved.

Jarosch said one of the suspects shot in the head was still in hospital under police guard and five others were in detention.

Four of the six men are asylum seekers.

Jarosch added that one had been living in Austria since 2001 and two others since 2008.

Niranjan Dass, 68, is recovering in hospital and is guarded by members of the elite Cobra unit. Dass received his first visitors Tuesday.

The two sect leaders had come to Vienna from India especially for the Sunday service.

The Indian government has demanded the extradition of the attackers to India and a full report about the attack from the Austrian government.

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