The 32nd Operation Bluestar anniversary Monday has the state police on its toes that have grappled with violent clashes in the past two years on this day. Security around the Golden Temple has been strengthened and at least 10 more hardliners were detained Sunday as a preventive measure. Several hardliners were detained Saturday as well.
“We have deployed three layers security for the anniversary day,” said Amritsar Police Commissioner Amar Singh Chahal. “The first layer will be around the Golden Temple. The second will be at the wall of old city and the third layer will be at all entry points of the city. Border Security Force has also set up check posts in Tarn Taran and Gurdaspur districts.”
“Around 9,000 security personnel, including six companies of paramilitary forces, are in the city” said Chahal.
“We have held a series of meetings with the SGPC task force. We are better prepared this year. We have installed CCTV cameras at critical locations, too.”
The Dal Khalsa has called for a bandh on the day but police are confident that it will pass off peacefully.
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“Anyone can participate in the bandh. But we will not allow anybody to force it upon anyone else in the city,” said Chahal adding more hardliners could be detained soon.
Seven recovery vans and two cranes will be used to ensure smooth flow of traffic on the day.
While all political parties have asked people to maintain peace, each is trying to outdo the other in terms of attendance at the Golden Temple, which was the site of the Indian Army operation against Khalistani militants.
Last year, the Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh’s speech was interrupted by those who were against the government. This time, the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) asked its leaders in Mahja region to mobilise party workers to the Akal Takht from Sunday evening itself. “Hardliners create much trouble. So, we have decided to outnumber them,” said a SAD leader.
“I appeal to all to reach the Golden Temple premises at 10 pm today (Sunday) and attend the anniversary function in morning. At least 10 people from each village should reach for function to pay tribute to martyrs,” said SAD leader Ravinder Singh Brahmpura at Dhotian village.
“It is our responsibility to mobilise workers for the anniversary so that we can remember martyrs. It is the day when we need to remind how then Congress president Indira Gandhi had attacked oSAd, ur Akal Takht and demolished it,” he told The Indian Express.
When asked why the party had never made such efforts in the past, he said, “It is not like that. But there were some events in recent past in which anti-social elements tried to take advantage by indulging in violence. We want this ceremony to be observed peacefully so that no untoward incident happen.”
On Sunday, however, it seems the Akali plans hit a hurdle. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) tried to block devotees from occupying the air-conditioned Diwan Manji Sahib that it had reserved for SAD supporters. But given the flow of devotees into the area, the SGPC Task Force had no option but to allow them in.
The Manji Sahib hall is the biggest in the Golden Temple complex and a preferred area for devotees in the summers given the air-conditioning. Brahmpura has been tasked with finding alternate accommodation for SAD supporters arriving on the day.
Another worry for the SAD is the fresh dispute between Sikh preacher Ranjit Singh Dhadrianwale and Damdami Taksal head Harnam Singh Dhuma. The party fears that the occasion may be used by either of the two sects to prove their supremacy in Sikh politics.