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Volunteers have been guarding the £14 million Sikh Temple overnight amid fears London riot-style copycat attacks could be carried out on the iconic building.

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The new Gurdwara Management Committee quickly mobilised a plan to defend the country’s largest temple of Saddington Road and Khalsa Avenue, Gravesend, as riots across London this spread to other parts of the country.

Civil unrest which started in Tottenham following a peaceful protest concerning the shooting of local man Mark Duggan, 29, spread around the country with four nights of serious disorder from.

Gurdwara President Jaspal Singh Dhesi said; “We quickly realised we must take steps to protect our place of worships from looters and the potential threat of vandalism.

Asked if those guarding the temple were armed, he added: “There are about half a dozen volunteers who stay inside overnight. In the day it is busy with people coming and going so it is not a problem.

“Those staying there remain in the building so they are safe and do not have anything in their hands. If trouble comes they will alert the police.

“We are proud of our relations in Gravesend but we will not give up the temple to looters.”

Gravesham Mayor Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, who at 32 is the country’s youngest Sikh Mayor, said he was “extremely proud” how Gravesham had not been tarred with scenes witnessed in London and said it was right members kept a “watchful vigil” over the temple.

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