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Sikh factions fight
By:Mandeep Singh Bajwa
Date: Monday, 25 May 2009, 3:05 pm

Austria: Indian Sikh dies after Vienna attack

Vienna, 25 May (AKI) - An Indian Sikh guru has died in Vienna after an armed attack involving rival Sikh groups at a temple in Austria. Police said on Monday the 57-year-old guru, Sant Rama Anandin, died of injuries he allegedly received in an attack by six men armed with knives and a pistol during a religious ceremony on Sunday.

A second guru, Sant Niranjan Dass, aged 68, was reported to be stable after undergoing emergency surgery, doctors said.

At least 16 people were injured in the clashes, according to the Austrian APA news agency. APA said.

The brutal attack, carried out by bearded and turbaned men, triggered panic among the temple's congregation of 250 people, and immediately provoked riots between rival Sikh groups in cities and towns across the Indian state of Punjab where 16 dead and 71 injured have so far been reported.

Indian police said protesters in the Punjabi city of Jalandhar set fire to vehicles, damaged government buildings and put up roadblocks.

Thousands of protesters poured out into the streets in protests that erupted late on Sunday and a curfew was imposed across Jalandhar, reports said.

It was a dramatic reaction to the Vienna attack which reportedly began when fundamentalist Sikhs from a higher caste attacked the preachers, who, they believed, were disrespectful of the Sikh holy book.

During the mayhem, members of the congregation pounced upon the attackers and overpowered them, severely injuring them, police said.

Police spokesman, Michael Takacs, was quoted as saying the scene was "like a battlefield".

The visiting gurus Anandin and Dass had previously been guests at the temple, located in Vienna-Rudolfsheim, in the 15th district of the capital.

The Rudolfsheim temple is run by devotees of Shri Guru Ravidas, who founded a Sikh sect called Dera Sach Khand.

Anandin and Dass, both followers of the Shri Guru Ravidas movement, were rejected by a rival Vienna Sikh community.

Police believe the conflict was based on doctrinal differences between the two groups. It is estimated that fewer than 3,000 Sikhs live in Austria.