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Sikh members claim 'hostile takeover' led to April fight at Greenwood temple, multiple charges filed

Posted: 1:49 PM, Jul 02, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-03 03:39:42Z
Charges filed after April Sikh temple fight

GREENWOOD, Ind. -- Multiple people have been charged more than two months after a large fight in a Greenwood Sikh temple. 

The Johnson County Prosecutor's Office filed charges against 18 people, after a fight on April 15 injured nine people at the temple in the 1000 block of Graham Road. 

Members of the congregation describe the fight as a "hostile takeover" that ended with a new group of people in power. 

"This was a very sad day on our holiest day when a few bad elements of our community, they became the culprit of this broad," said Grinder Singh Khalsa, Chairman of Sikh's PAC. 

All those injured in the fight were treated and released from local hospitals.

One of those victims, 13-year-old Manreet Mahal, is still recovering from the brawl. 

"We came here to pray and then we were waiting in my car and I saw police cars rushing in. So I rushed and because my mom was inside," said Mahal. "I stood next to a guy that I thought I knew and he started pepper spraying me and the crowd. I got scared so I froze for a minute. I walked around so I could kind of go away and I eventually went outside for fresh air."

Mahal says she's missed family trips and had to quit track and cross country because of complications from her injuries. 

The 18 people were charged with disorderly conduct, but two of them were also charged with battery resulting in bodily injury. Those two used mace and a board with nails in it during the fight, a representative with the prosecutor's office said. 

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The 16 charged with just disorderly conduct will get a summons to appear, while the other two will likely have an arrest warrant issued.

Harpreet Singh, 37, and Amardeep Singh, 25, were charged with battery resulting in bodily injury. 

"We are a very peaceful people," said Khalsa. "Even those ones who started the fight. We want to make sure they are punished through the justice system but once they are finished with the justice system they are welcomed back."

Johnson County Prosecutor Brad Cooper says they carefully reviewed video evidence from the fight and they believe all aggressors have been charged. 

"It was one individual we could see with on video whacked somebody with a vase," said Cooper. "However he had two people that were trying to choke him at the time so he grabbed what was near and swung backward and hit them. That is self-defense. He was not charged with a crime. The people that were choking him were."

Rubaldeep Pawra is the new vice president of the temple, he says their group didn't start the fight. 

"If someone attacks, we attack back," said Pawra. "These charges, it can't be charged because we were attacked. We defend ourselves."

The prosecutor says those charged in the fight could face up to a year in jail plus upt to a $1,000 fine. 

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