Temple has had a long history of internal strife
WSO President Prem Singh Vinning (right) and Hindu Temple President Parshottam Goel look at one of the windows that was smashed by two youths.
BY RATTAN MALL
THE smashing of windows at Surrey’s Laxmi Narayan Mandir by two youths who were caught on the security video clearly appears to be mischief – not hate crime – and Surrey RCMP say that unless some new evidence proves otherwise, this is a case of nothing more than mischief and wilful damage.
Many even in the Hindu community didn’t like the attempt by some temple leaders to sensationalize the vandalism in an obvious attempt to garner publicity, sympathy and support for Tuesday’s candlelight vigil in memory of the victims of the 1985 Air India bombing.
This Hindu temple has had a history of internal strife since 2000 with arson that destroyed the construction office with important financial documents, threats and assaults, theft of the ‘golaks’ (donation boxes), stolen temple checks, and court cases by rival groups.
Some years ago, even I was threatened by the then president and his supporters for exposing their shameful behaviour. That president even denied giving me an interview, alleging that I had published lies, until I told him that I had recorded our conversation!
In fact, there will soon be another court case involving a dispute over cancellation of the life membership of almost 400 people who refused to pay extra fees that were allegedly arbitrarily imposed last year. It is being alleged that this was done as part of a power struggle in the temple.
The baseball bat left behind by the vandals. Photo courtesy CTV
Interestingly, a perusal of the membership list shows that the majority of them are actually Sikhs, some prominent Hindu community members point out. They also note that many Sikhs are volunteers at the temple.
One member told Asian Journal: “I don’t think the Sikhs were involved it. If they had done such a thing they would never have left the baseball bat behind. I suspect this is a setup.”
Several others also told this newspaper that it made no sense for the culprits to leave behind their baseball bat with a Sikh name and a Sikh symbol.
“It was left behind as if it was being purposely displayed. If someone indulges in such an act he would never leave this evidence behind,” they said.
“If Sikhs give donations to the temple, if the majority of the members are Sikhs, if a lot of volunteers are Sikh, why would Sikhs do that? It doesn’t make sense to me,” they added. “It could just be mischief by two youths.”
THE World Sikh Organization of Canada condemned the vandalism and its president, Prem Singh Vinning, visited the temple and met with its president Parshottam Goel to express his concern.
Vinning said: “Any attack on a place of worship must be strongly condemned. The perpetrators must be brought to justice as soon as possible. While we truly hope that this was not an attempt to create friction between the Sikh and Hindu community, the responsible thing to do is to let the RCMP complete its investigation before drawing any conclusions.”
The vandals caught on security video
CITIZENSHIP, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney said: “The act of vandalism that took place against the Vedic Hindu Temple on June 23rd, when vandals smashed three windows near the temple’s entrance overnight, is contrary to Canadian values and repugnant to our tradition of religious tolerance, which dates back centuries and is one of our greatest strengths.
“It is particularly disgusting that this happened on the anniversary of the Air India bombing, where 329 people, mostly Canadians, were killed in the bombing of Air India Flight 182 on June 23, 1985.
“As the Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism, I encourage each and every Canadian to categorically reject such cowardly acts of bigotry, and I ask that anyone with information please contact the appropriate authorities so the perpetrators can be brought to justice as swiftly as possible.”
NDP MP and Immigration Multiculturalism and Citizenship Critic Jinny Sims said she and the entire New Democratic caucus strongly condemned the acts of vandalism that took place at the temple.
Shortly after the incident took place, Sims contacted members of the temple to show her support and condemn the vandalism.
She said: “My colleague Jasbir [Sandhu] and I unequivocally condemn such heinous acts of violence on a place of worship. Surrey is a shining example of Canada’s diversity, where faith based organizations and temples are institutions of peace that celebrate Canadian multiculturalism. Attacks on such institutions should not be taken lightly.”
She added: “The united condemnation from people of all faiths is an example of both the Canadian spirit and the resiliency of Surrey residents. I have full confidence that the police and authorities will take the appropriate steps to ensure perpetrators are held accountable.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: This issue’s news deadline was Thursday morning as it was brought out a day earlier because of the long weekend. Next week’s issue’s news deadline will also be Thursday morning.