Uneasy calm at Golden Temple complex after violent clash

Golden TempleAmritsar (IANS): An uneasy calm prevailed at the Golden Temple complex here on the 30th anniversary of Operation Bluestar Friday following a clash between Sikh activists and SGPC task force volunteers in which 10 people were injured.

Swords and sticks were freely used as scores of men from both sides chased one another outside the Akal Takht building within the complex, home to the holiest of Sikh shrines – Harmandir Sahib.

People with bleeding injuries and ground stained with blood could be seen later at the site of the clash.

Many people scurried inside buildings and other areas of the complex to save themselves.

Eyewitnesses said the clash occurred when SGPC task force volunteers stopped Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) activists, led by their leader Simranjit Singh Mann, from taking control of the microphone at the Akal Takht.

The activists were brandishing swords and other traditional weapons and raising pro-Khalistan slogans inside the complex.

The clash occurred just after the religious ceremony to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Operation Bluestar ended Friday morning.

“The radical elements tried to take control of the public address system and shouted slogans. This was opposed by the SGPC (Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee) volunteers, which led to a violent clash,” a police officer outside the shrine complex said.

Police officers, in plainclothes, could be seen trying to pacify agitated members from both sides.

Media persons were also roughed up. Tension continued to prevail till the afternoon. No uniformed police personnel were present inside the complex.

Top SGPC functionaries, including its president Avtar Singh Makkar and Akal Takht Jathedar Gurbachan Singh, were present when the incident took place.

The SGPC and the Akal Takht are likely to order a probe into the violent incident.

Security personnel were deployed outside to control any untoward situation.

The hundreds of devotees were not affected as the clash remained confined to a portion of the complex.

The rush of devotees increased towards the evening, signalling normalcy.

Shops in the vicinity of the shrine remained closed Friday following a bandh call given by the Sikh organisation Dal Khalsa. The police detained several activists for forcing the closure of shops.

“The area around the Golden Temple complex had a curfew-like look. The situation looked tense,” a local media person who witnessed the clash said.

“The incident at the shrine is unfortunate. The Dal Khalsa had nothing to do with it,” Dal Khalsa leader Kanwarpal Singh said.