LUDHIANA, India, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- One person died and 12 were hurt Saturday when Sikh protesters clashed with Indian police in Ludhiana, medical officials said. A local hospital spokesman reported the casualties as police used batons and tear gas to disperse radical Sikhs protesting the staging of a religious gathering by Ashutosh Maharaj, leader of the Hindu sect Divya Jyoti Jagran Sansthan, the Times of India reported. Witnesses told the newspaper the protesters, led by Sikh radicals who consider the sect blasphemous and some of whom were brandishing swords, got to within a mile of the spot where Maharaj's followers were congregating. Ludhiana Range Police Deputy Inspector General Sharad Chauhan told the Times police tried to stop the protesters at a barricaded checkpoint, but they allegedly refused to heed orders to disperse. Police then fired into the air, he said. "We fired in the air after tear gas failed to stop the protesters, who damaged a number of police and private vehicles," Chauhan said.