Two groups of Sikhs clashed with swords and sticks inside the Golden Temple on Friday, turning the faith’s holiest shrine into a virtual battlefield during a ceremony to mark 30 years of a controversial army operation on the premises that killed hundreds of people.
The clash, which occurred early in the morning while prayers were being offered to those killed in Operation Blue Star, underlined lingering tensions among various Sikh groups that remain divided over a decades-old demand for a separate homeland for followers of the faith called Khalistan.
Golden Temple officials said at least 12 people sustained injuries in the violence. Jatinder Singh Aulakh, police commissioner of Amritsar, where the Golden Temple is located, said 19 people had been detained.
The violence broke out after Golden Temple officials stopped Simranjit Singh Mann, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD-Amritsar) president and former MP, from making a speech on the occasion. Mann’s supporters then raised pro-Khalistan slogans and went on the rampage with swords and sticks, injuring revered temple official, Bhai Satnam Singh.
A few Sikh youths also attempted to move towards a nearby residential area with swords in their hands but were prevented by police leading to minor scuffle between them. “We have detained around 35 persons, but overall situation is under control,” said Amritsar commissioner of police J S Aulakh.
Heavy police force, both men and women, in uniform and civvies, and sleuths of intelligence agencies were present in every nook and corner of the Golden Temple to assist SGPC’s task force. Policemen in plain clothes were seen manning a staircase leading to the Akal Takht. A contingent of the Border Security Force and Punjab Armed Police were deployed in the vicinity of the Golden Temple to keep an eye on mischievous elements.
City police had also made preventive arrests of few leaders of Shiv Sena, who had threatened to move towards the Golden Temple to protest against eulogizing and honouring of terrorists. A few Hindu groups also performed havan for the Army personnel who had died fighting the militants during Operation Bluestar.
However, the impact of Amritsar shutdown call was visible as majority of markets remained closed. At some places, Sikh youths took the round of markets to ensure the shops remained closed. Commenting about the sword-wielding youth in the Golden Temple complex , president of Sikh Youth Federation, Bhinderanwale, Balwant Singh Gopala, a staunch supporter of Khalistan, said “These are photo crazy Khalistanis. They move to raise slogans where TV cameras move.”
Source:Times of India & Hindustan Times