Tensions running high at the DDO Sikh congregation

By Robert Frank
www.thesuburban.com

THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON MAY 25, 2011

At least five police cars were called to respond to a dispute, May 21, at Gurudwara Sahib of Greater Montreal in Dollard des Ormeaux.

Doors of the Sikh place of worship, which is usually open 24 hours a day, have since been locked and patrolled by private security guards. The Suburban investigated after a citizen complained about the guards’ overbearing conduct.

“My wife was walking down the sidewalk, which was blocked with vehicles,” said the Dollard resident, who did not want to be identified for fear of reprisal.

“They were ordering pedestrians onto traffic along Hyman Drive.”

According to a French Canadian neighbour who is well acquainted with Gurudwara Sahib Congregation members, various factions have been at odds since elections took place and the heightened security was implemented to attenuate the risk of violence.

“It’s normally a very peaceful place,” she said of the congregation, which opened its doors in 1989.

However, during the past week, rocks thrown from bushes adjacent to the facility smashed side windows and many unhappy members have congregated in their cars immediately outside the entrance.

One witness who also feared being identified told The Suburban that the factions took their case to court earlier this week. “It’s like a freaking religious war, though at least it is not as bad as what happened in Vancouver or Toronto.”

Two men dressed in traditional Sikh garb slowly paced the perimeter, but declined to be interviewed. Through an intermediary, they told The Suburban that the congregation would not respond to questions until May 27. All phone calls to Gurudwara Sahib were answered by individuals who claimed only to speak Punjabi.

Immediately after The Suburban began photographing the exterior of the building, the security guards’ telephones began to ring and they subsequently told our photographer that he was not allowed to take any pictures. A muscular man wearing a Tri-Mark Security uniform ran up and ordered The Suburban’s reporter and photographer to leave, however the confrontation ended without violence after it was pointed out that both were standing on the sidewalk, which is city property over which the congregation has no jurisdiction. 

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