On Sunday 24 May 2009, several people in the Guru Ravidass Gurdwara in Vienna, Austria, were attacked by six men carrying knives and guns.[1] Two of the victims were identified as visiting Dera Sach Khand head Niranjan Dass,[2] 68, and another leader, Ramanand Dass,[2] 57, who suffered multiple gunshot wounds and died the next day in hospital. At least 15 others were injured, including 4 of the attackers, who were in the end subdued by the other worshipers.[3][4][5] It was described as a terrorist attack committed by Sikh fundamentalists.[6] The incident sparked riots across Northern India.[7][8][9][10][11]

2009 Vienna temple attack
LocationRudolfsheim, Vienna, Austria
Date24 May 2009
TargetDera Sach Khand followers
PerpetratorsKhalistan Zindabad Force

Claims and denials of responsibility


An email reportedly received by Radio Akash in London, purportedly from the Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF), claimed responsibility for the attack.[12][13] The Austriantimes.at reported that a later email purported to be from the Khalistan Zindabad Force denied all involvement in this attack. The later email appeared to have a scanned copy of KZF’s letterhead and contained a date change in longhand. This cast doubt on its authenticity. Austriantimes.at also reported that the visiting leaders had been warned for some time of possible violence against them. [12]

A 28 May 2009 Diepresse.com article reported that the identities of the 6 alleged Sikh attackers had been established.[1] Five of the six had been questioned thoroughly, but the last, the alleged leader, was still too ill to interview, having been shot in the head. Of the six, all were males between 24 and 45 and from Punjab and other regions in northern India, two had entered the country illegally, and four had applied for asylum. It reported that Nirajnan Das was "on the road to recovery". Both the sixth alleged attacker and Niranjan Das were reportedly under heavy guard at the hospital.[13]

An email received by The Tribune newspaper, purported to be from Ranjit Singh Jammu of the KZF, expressed sympathy for the "Ravidassia brotherhood" and denied any involvement.[14]

Akash Radio reported on its web site that it had received, on 29 May 2009, a third email purported to be from the KZF. In this third email, Akash reports, the KZF stated that "Indian agencies" used its letterhead to deny responsibility, and went on to emphasize that it took responsibility for the attack that resulted in the death of Rama Nand, and that KZF had sent the letter to an Indian newspaper which did not print the claim of responsibility, but which was quick to print the retraction.[15][citation needed]

Arrest and trial


One of the six suspects detained in connection with the attack was released due to lack of evidence. Four of the six offenders were Non-Resident Indian asylum seekers living in Austria and were identified as Satwinder Singh, 28, Jaspal Singh, 34, Tasum Singh, 45 and Sukhwinder Singh, 28. The other two attackers - Hardeep Singh, 33 and Charnjit Singh, 24, entered Austria illegally, authorities said.[16] Amritpal Singh, a 26-year-old Sikh man of Indian origin, was arrested after a firefight with commandos of the Austrian police who raided his apartment while investigating the murder.[17][18]

After nearly 11 hours of deliberations, the jury found main defendant Jaspal Singh guilty of shooting Ramanand to death and he received a life-sentence; he was also convicted of attempted murder. Four men were convicted of aiding Singh and were sentenced to between 17 and 18 years, while one was found guilty of attempted coercion and received a 6-month sentence. The prosecutor had alleged that some of the men had travelled to Vienna from Barcelona in Spain with the aim of carrying out their crime.[19]


  1. ^ a b Page, Jeremy (2010-02-04). "Ravidassia sect sends shockwaves across worlds Sikh community". The Times. London.
  2. ^ a b Singh, I P (5 June 2009). "Lakhs attend state funeral for Sant Ramanand". The Times of India. Archived from the original on 24 October 2012. Retrieved 2009-06-05.
  3. ^ "Preacher dies after Vienna clash". BBC News. 25 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-31.
  4. ^ POLGREEN, LYDIA (May 25, 2009). "Killing of Sikh Leader Sets Off Riots in India". The New York Times. Retrieved 2009-05-31.
  5. ^ Page, Jeremy (May 25, 2009). "Riots after Sikh guru Sant Rama Nand shot dead in Vienna". The Times. London. Retrieved 2009-05-31.
  6. ^ "Chronik: Terroranschläge in Österreich mit tödlichem Ausgang". 20 January 2015.
  7. ^ "South Asia | Punjab riots after Vienna killing". BBC News. 2009-05-25. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  8. ^ "From Vienna To Jalandhar". www.outlookindia.com. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  9. ^ "Riots after Sikh guru Sant Rama Nand shot dead in Vienna". Archived from the original on 11 December 2011. Retrieved May 30, 2009.
  10. ^ "Europe | Preacher dies after Vienna clash". BBC News. 2009-05-25. Retrieved 2009-08-09.
  11. ^ "KZF claims responsibility for Vienna attack; Babbar Khalsa condemns killing". The Hindu. 2009-05-27. Archived from the original on 1 June 2009. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
  12. ^ a b "KZF takes responsibility for Vienna temple massacre". Austriantimes.at. 29 May 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-06-03. Retrieved 2009-05-31.
  13. ^ a b "Sikh: Alarm vor Tag der offenen Tür in Wien (loosely "Sikh: Alarm before "Open Day" in Vienna)" (in German). Die Presse. 2009-05-28. Retrieved 2009-06-02.
  14. ^ Sanjeev Singh Bariana (May 28, 2009). "KZF denies involvement in attack". The Tribune. Retrieved 2009-05-31. People are being misled in the name of the KZF. The incident has hurt the entire Ravidassia brotherhood. The KZF begs pardon from the entire Sikh panth and also from the Sant Ravidass brotherhood.
  15. ^ "KZF claims Indian agencies used its letterhead In its third e-mail sent to Akash Radio yesterday 29th May 09". Akash Radio. 30 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-02.
  16. ^ "Vienna gurdwara attack: Detained suspect released". Indian Express. 2009-06-06. Retrieved 2018-07-24.
  17. ^ "Mainstream news of the marginalized". TwoCircles.net. Retrieved 2018-07-24.
  18. ^ "India Current Events, Current Affairs 2018, News on Business, Politics, Government, Sports". Headlinesindia.mapsofindia.com. 2018-07-20. Retrieved 2018-07-24.[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ "Indian temple attackers get jail in Vienna". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2018-07-23.