Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Seven people arraigned on riot, assault charges for violent fight at Sikh temple in Queens
Seven people were arraigned on riot and assault charges Monday for their roles in a vicious turf battle at a Sikh temple in Queens.
Assailants wielding cricket bats and small swords disrupted prayer services Sunday morning at the Baba Makhan Shah Lubana Sikh Center in Richmond Hill, police and witnesses said.
"I'm going to kill you," defendant Harinder Singh, 47, screamed before punching Joginder Singh in the face, says a criminal complaint filed in Queens Supreme Court.
Gurnam Singh, 47, rushed into the temple swinging a stick and lunging at others while religious ceremonies were underway, the complaint says.
A cop managed to wrest away the stick before the suspect flailed his arms wildly to prevent being handcuffed, police say. At least one cop was injured.
Several of the defendants were charged with disrupting a religious service.
Temple President Jarnail Singh said the melee was caused by a dissident group of followers who don't want to see membership rolls opened at the 101st Ave. temple.
"We tried to open membership, and a group didn't want it," he said yesterday. "They want to fight it."
The dispute is at the center of a pending lawsuit in Queens Supreme Court. The temple president said he hopes the warring factions will let a judge mete out justice instead of resorting to violence.
"What the court decides I will believe," he said. "It's his decision."