Harjit Singh Toor, a non-Namdhari Sikh, appeared before Birmingham Crown Court this week as jurors were shown video footage of the moment he pulled out a three-foot axe from his shawl during morning prayers at a gurdwara in Leicester last August. The Namdhari leader suffered a broken arm and a cut nose when he tried to shield himself from the blows in front of horrified worshippers.
Opening the case, prosecutor Gordon Aspden said Toor was motivated by religious hatred for his victim and rejected his claims that he was sexually abused by the leader in India. "The prosecution does not accept that the defendant's recent sexual abuse allegation is true. You may conclude that this attack was a result of religious hatred.
Whatever this attack was borne out of, whether it was religious hatred or revenge, the defendant had an absolutely crystal clear motive to want to kill the guru," Aspden said. According to court reports in the local media, the guru's elderly mother, who was accompanying him on his first visit to the UK, was sitting next to him and witnessed the attack.
Other worshippers inside the temple jumped on the attacker and began punching and kicking him before police arrived. "Although the defendant is an orthodox Sikh he was dressed like a Namdhari, wearing a white turban. That manner of dress meant he was able to walk into the gurdwara without being challenged," Aspden told the court.
"He walked down the central aisle and when he reached the platform, the defendant pulled back his shawl and produced an axe that he had concealed underneath it. He then attacked the guru with the axe," he added.
Shortly after the attack, Toor was heard saying that "his guru" was the Sikh holy book and he did not believe in a living guru. The prosecution described Uday Singh's position as "similar to that which the Pope occupies within Roman Catholicism".
Toor, from Leicester, admitted during police interviews to attacking Uday Singh and the charge of grievous bodily harm with intent but denies attempted murder. His trial is expected to last a week.
Uday Singh took over as Namdhari sect leader in December 2012 after the death of Satguru Jagjit Singh. His selection was opposed by some within the sect, including his elder brother Dalip Singh.
It was speculated that the attacker may have a link with the controversy surrounding the choice of sect leader. Uday Singh had travelled to the UK from India to convene a Namdhari Darbar.