Massive ongoing sword fights over leadership at Greenwood temple

Factions of Sikh residents who worship at a Greenwood temple have been feuding for weeks, which erupted into a massive group of men fighting with swords on Sunday afternoon.

More than 100 people were involved in a massive fight, including using swords and attempts to pull beards off other men, at the temple on Sunday afternoon. The sheer size of the dispute resulted in every police officer or sheriff’s deputy working in Johnson County, as well as some state police, being dispatched to the temple, Greenwood Police Assistant Chief Matt Fillenwarth said.

Three people were injured and taken to Franciscan Health Indianapolis, Fillenwarth said. Their injuries were not believed to be life threatening, Fillenwarth said.

Police officers stopped the fights and sent everyone home.

The disputes are about the leadership elections that are conducted every two years at the Gurdwara Shri Guru HarGobind Sahib Ji temple on Graham Road, near Allen Road. In past years, police officers have been dispatched to fights involving angry men waving swords, and officers have had to draw their guns to gain control of the situation, Fillenwarth said.

This is at least the second massive dispute at the temple during this year’s leadership election.

Last weekend, the temple had hired three off-duty police officers to help keep the peace at the temple, but large fights still erupted and every police officer on duty had to be called to put an end to it, Fillenwarth said.

This week, Greenwood Police Chief John Laut has been talking to temple membership in an effort to help them calm the situation, Fillenwarth said. They’ve inquired about trespass orders but police have told them they have to pursue the appropriate civil procedures, Fillenwarth said.

Sunday’s dispute was reported about 2:40 p.m. More than 50 police cars were dispatched to the temple, and eight firetrucks and multiple ambulances responded, because the incident could have become a mass casualty, Fillenwarth said.

Sikhs practice Sikhism, a monotheistic religion that started in India. The Greenwood temple was built in 2014, but the congregation has been gathering in the city for more than a decade.