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Sikh temple director arrested in connection with melee
A Sikh temple director was arrested on Wednesday in connection with the weekend melee at the Tierra Buena Gurdwara that sent three people to the hospital.
Mangal Singh Sanghera of Yuba City was booked into the Sutter County Jail on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon. Sanghera is being held without bail on a probation violation, Sheriff J. Paul Parker said in a press release.
"The investigation is ongoing and more arrests are expected in coming days," Capt. Lewis McElfresh said.
Sanghera, 43, is accused of stabbing 46-year-old Balbir Bains in the stomach on Sunday, authorities said. McElfresh said Bains identified Sanghera as the suspected attacker.
A second man, age 30, was stabbed in the shoulder. Another man was also hospitalized with head injuries.
Deputies were called around 6:30 p.m. Saturday to the temple in the 2400 block of Tierra Buena Road and found dozens of people fighting with sticks. Deputies estimated between 50 and 100 participated in the brawl.
The Sheriff's Department said a motive for the violence remains under investigation.
Numerous directors said Saturday's clash was the latest and most disturbing chapter in an ongoing dispute between rival factions on the temple's board of directors. The 73-member board has split between a controlling group of directors, mostly elected around 2008, and an opposition group. More than 4,400 people attend the temple on Tierra Buena Road.
Tensions center around elections for new board members which the group in power voted to scrap earlier this year. The controlling group, which includes board President Paul Purewal, voted in August to extend its own term limits by another two years over the heated objections of the opposition.
Sanghera is a member of the controlling group of directors, the Sheriff's Department said. Multiple directors said Sanghera was only recently appointed to the board.
The Sheriff's Department arrested Sanghera in November 2010 on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, according to Appeal-Democrat archives. Disposition on that case was not available Wednesday night.
Attempts to reach Purewal were not successful.
A Sutter County judge denied a petition in September from five opposition board members seeking to force the scheduled election.
Longtime director Dave Chima criticized Sunday's violence and said he hopes to start a new movement among temple goers seeking to remove the board.
"I'm pushing for elections because that's the only way I can see to eliminate the friction between the two groups," Chima said Wednesday. "I'm hoping the worshipers will rally together and condemn this type of violence in their place of worship."
Deputies hope additional witnesses will come forward.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Sheriff's Department at 822-7307 or leave a tip on the sheriff's website at www.suttersheriff.org.
CONTACT Rob Parsons at firstname.lastname@example.org or 749-4785. Find him on Facebook at /ADcrimebeat or on Twitter at @ADcrimebeat.