Arson Attack on Wolverhampton Sikh Gurudwara
Three Sikh Priests were led to safety last night following an arson attempt on a Sikh Gurudwara in Bilston. The emergency services were called out just before 0100 BST to put out fires started using two large bins placed in front of the two doors of the Temple.
Guru Nanak Sikh Temple, Arthur Street is close to Bilston town centre and was attacked in what is thought to have been a racially motivated act of violence. Local residents are reported to have seen three youths running away from the Gurudwara and alerted the fire crew accordingly. The prompt response of the residents played a large part in saving the lives of the three men.
Two fires were started at separate parts of the Temple. The main worship room was saved from the fire by the aluminum shutters in place in front of the main entrance of the Gurdwara itself. The second fire burned through a side door where it spread into the communal kitchens and onto the second floor on which the priests sleeping quarters are situated.
Initial estimates place the cost of damages caused by the attack at around £20,000.
The three priests were treated for smoke inhalation and shock. Two of the priests have spoken to local residents about the trauma caused to them as a result of the arson attack. Gianni (Priest) Manohar Singh explained that although there have been incidents of racial abuse in the past, nothing was as severe as this attack, “We have received verbal and physical abuse from youths before but nothing of this level…I don’t understand what we have done to deserve this. How will be sleep at night now?”
The second Priest, Gianni Tirath Singh feared for his life after he awoke to the fire burning throughout the Gurudwara. While speaking with local residents he exclaimed : “I could see nothing but smoke around me, I couldn’t breathe and thought that this is it, we were going to die for sure.”
West Midlands Police are treating the crime as a suspected arson attack and appealing for witnesses to come forward with any information they may have by ringing Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Since 9/11 and the recent London bombings there has been an increased number of attacks on the local Sikh community in the area. Community leaders and multi faith networks are aware of the situation and are providing their full support. The community is devastated by the recent incident.