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N.J. Gurdwara Altercation: Judge Shuts Down Temple
By CAROL COMEGNO
The authors may be reached at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org. The elitist nature of the Khalsa Darbar of South Jersey, Inc. is evident from the "initial membership fee of $1125" and an "annual membership fee of $225" per the gurdwara's constitution.
The Courier-Post, Mount Holly, Apr. 26, 2005
Photo: Paramjitinder "P.J." Singh Dhillon, president of the executive committee at Khalsa Darbar of South Jersey, Inc., Burlington, New Jersey
A judge has temporarily closed a Sikh temple in Springfield at which several members were stabbed during a dispute over church leadership.
Superior Court Judge Ronald E. Bookbinder shut down the temple pending a hearing this week in a civil lawsuit the Sikh organization filed last year.
Issues in the ongoing civil case apparently led to the melee Friday night inside the Gurdwara Sahib Temple at 1040 Old York Road.
Five members were slashed with kirpans, or crescent-shaped ceremonial knives worn in a belt.
Two members - K. Singh Sandhu, 40, of Yardley, Pa., and Alamjit Singh Gill, 39, of the first block of Chambord Lane in Voorhees - were charged with aggravated assault.
Bookbinder has jurisdiction over the civil case but not the criminal charges.
Khalsa Darbar of South Jersey, Inc., the organization that operates the temple, had sought a temporary restraining order in December against what it said were dissident, disruptive members.
Bookbinder issued the order but has continued to work with both sides over the past four months to reach a resolution.
The stabbings occurred two days after the two sides had agreed to appoint a mediator to settle their differences.
The judge closed the temple on the recommendation of Gregg A. Shivers, a security custodian Bookbinder appointed on Saturday after learning of the stabbings.
Bookbinder decided there was an imminent danger based on the findings of Shivers, a former assistant Burlington County prosecutor.
Khalsa Darbar of South Jersey, Inc. on Dec. 9 asked for a temporary restraining order against Sukhdarshan Singh and 13 others.
Court documents allege they threatened church leaders with violence.
The leaders of the temple allege that Singh and some of his supporters had not paid dues and were not members in good standing. Singh and his supporters, however, previously said in court that temple leadership was not properly elected.
Singh was escorted away by Springfield police after he and his supporters tried to take over the temple by force in December, court papers show.
When Springfield police removed Singh, his supporters began to become violent, punching and kicking and striking others, including executive committee president S. Paramjitinder 'P.J.' Singh Dhillon, the papers said.