Amritsar: Tension prevailed at the Golden Temple complex here on Friday as 10 people, including a child, were injured at the Sikh shrine complex in a clash between task force volunteers of the SGPC and radical Sikh activists on the 30th anniversary of the army's Operation Bluestar.
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Swords and sticks were openly used as scores of men from both sides chased each other outside the Akal Takht building inside the complex, which is home to the holiest of Sikh shrines `Harmandar Sahib'. Many people could be seen running for cover to save themselves.
Sikh activists clash with members of the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee ( SGPC) during commemorations for the 30th Anniversary of Operation Blue Star at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. Photo: AFP
Police were keeping a close watch on the situation inside the shrine complex.
"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.
Eyewitnesses said the clash occurred when activists of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) were stopped by the SGPC task force volunteers from brandishing swords and other traditional weapons and raising pro-Khalistan slogans inside the complex.
This led to a clash between both sides just after the religious ceremony to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Operation Bluestar ended on Friday morning.
Tension continued to prevail inside the complex. Media persons were also manhandled during the incident.
No uniformed police personnel were present inside the complex to intervene in or prevent the clash.
Top SGPC functionaries, including its president Avtar Singh Makkar and Akal Takht Jathedar Gurbachan Singh were present inside the complex when the incident took place.
The SGPC and Akal Takht are likely to order a probe into Friday's violent incidents.
Shops in the vicinity of the Sikh shrine remained closed on Friday following a bandh call given by radical Sikh organisation Dal Khalsa.
"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.
Heavily armed terrorists, led by separatist leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, were flushed out of the Golden Temple complex by the Indian Army in its Operation Bluestar in June 1984. The then prime minister Indira Gandhi had ordered the army operation.
Punjab had witnessed a bloody phase of terrorism between 1981 and 1992 as separatists demanded a Sikh homeland - Khalistan (Land of the pure). The terrorism phase left over 25,000 people dead, including hundreds of personnel of security forces.