This article appears in today's Leicester Mercury:
Guru injured in axe attack
by Alan Thompson
Worshippers at early morning prayers looked on in horror as a man in the congregation took out an axe and attacked a visiting guru.
About 300 people were at the Gurdwara Namdhari, in Leicester, on Sunday morning when the horrific attack took place on Sri Satguru Uday Singh Ji, spiritual head of the Namdhari community worldwide.
The guru, who had been taking prayers, was hit on the right wrist as he tried to defend himself. The blow broke a bone. As worshippers stared in disbelief, the attacker struck again, cutting open his forehead.
Several members of the congregation then rushed the attacker, pinning him to the floor until police arrived.
The guru's elderly mother, who is accompanying him on his first visit to the UK, was sitting next to him and witnessed the attack.
The guru's wounds were tended by members of the congregation until paramedics arrived and he was taken to Leicester Royal Infirmary. He was later discharged.
His programme of activities in the UK, visiting members of the Namdhari community across the country, has been severely curtailed by the attack.
Witness Ranjit Singh Flora, vice-president of the Sikh community in the UK and secretary of the gurdwara, said: "This chap was in the congregation for the prayers, which began at 3.30am and were ending at 5.30am, just before sunrise. He walked in through the doors into the hall. He was wearing a religious outfit like the rest of the congregation and covered himself with a shawl."
He said the man had a strap of cloth across his chest, into which, it emerged, he had put what Mr Singh described as "an axe, about 30 inches long".
"I was sitting right at the front," said Mr Singh. "The programme was about to finish and the hall was full.
"He walked slowly down the walkway, then faster. As he came to the place where you bow down, he quickly took off the shawl and pulled out the axe, jumping on to the stage. He brought the axe down and Guru Ji put up his right arm to defend himself, which was fractured in the attack. He took a second swing at him, splitting his forehead above the left eye, down to the nose. It all happened so fast. There was a lot of blood.
"Members of the congregation, which came from all over the country, got up and overpowered him, asking him why he had done it.
"Everyone was shocked and shaking. Guru Ji's visit was very important to us. It was his first trip to England.
"He has a scar on his forehead and his right arm is in plaster.
"A chunk of flesh came off when the axe struck and it broke his wrist, but he is quite strong and energetic.
"He came back for morning prayers again this morning and police provided security."
Mr Singh Flora described the incident at the gurdwara, in Linden Street, Evington, as "very disturbing".
He said: "We are a peace-loving people. An attack like this is beyond our understanding. We don't know what his motive was."
Sri Satguru Uday Singh Ji became the head of the Namdhari sect in December, after the death of the previous leader.
Indian news organisation Punjab Newsline reported that since then there had been a "consistent campaign against him", launched by followers of another claimant for the Namdhari gaddi, or throne. It is not yet known whether disquiet over the accession had any link to the attack.