Fight outside Sikh Temple. Photo courtesy Appeal Democrat
YUBA CITY, CA - A nasty power struggle resulted in violent fight outside a Sikh temple in Yuba City Saturday night, according to witnesses.
Two people were stabbed, another person was assaulted and more than a dozen people were pepper-sprayed.
"All of a sudden a commotion erupted and I looked over and fighting had broken," said Sukhraj Pamma.
He and other Tierra Buena SikhTemple board members wrapped up a meeting just before 7 p.m. Saturday and walked out into the north parking lot.
He said that's when about a dozen armed young men in their 20s approached them.
"They came with shovels, sticks, knives, tightening rods for trucks," said Pamma.
Someone called the sheriff's department. When the confrontation was all over, two people had been stabbed, another person was assaulted, and more than a dozen people were pepper-sprayed.
One of the stabbing victims, Ajab Singh, said he said he was trying to break up the fight when he was stabbed in the shoulder
No one has been arrested yet. Sheriff's deputies were still trying to identify the assailants.
"It is because you have two independent factions fighting. It's difficult to sort things out," said Capt. Lewis McElfresh with the Sutter County Sheriff's Department.
"I think their mission was to scare us because they want certain board members not to attend the meetings," said Pamma.
"These are not the good Sikhs. Sikhs are very peaceful. They don't do these things. We serve the community. We do good stuff for the community," said Dr. Sumanpreet Randatwa, a Sikh community member.
A temple director said there has been at least one other skirmish here before. Following the last fight, the temple director brought in five security guards.
"It was similar type of situation but it didn't go far," said Rashpal Parewal, temple president.
Temple members believe the violence stemmed from an ongoing power struggle among the old leadership and new leadership. Some members were upset that scheduled elections were cancelled.
Parewal believes it was all a big misunderstanding and that everyone truly wants to work toward a peaceful resolution.
"We're trying to just work peacefully, you know, verbally. Rather than trying to, you know, attack each other. Work together trying to find our differences," said Parewal.
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