DAYS AHEAD of the anniversary of Operation Blue Star, Amritsar police and health authorities deployed to maintain Covid-19 protocol have tightened checks on devotees visiting the Golden Temple. There are more restrictions on the entry of devotees as compared to the peak days of the Covid-19 lockdown, when curfew was imposed across the state.
The boundary of the Golden Temple is now properly fenced and devotees are discouraged from going further. There were very few devotees inside the Golden Temple premises on Wednesday as word about increased restrictions spread.
Denied permission for march: Dal Khalsa
Political outfit Dal Khalsa has alleged that police have made it impossible for devotees to enter Golden Temple due to the anniversary of Operation Blue Star, to be observed on June 6. It also said it has been denied permission by Amritsar police to carry out its annual ‘Ghallughara Yadgaari’ march — an annual activity for the last 15 years — on June 5 in the city due to Covid-19 protocol.
“We have been denied permission to carry out the remembrance march. We understand that it is an extraordinary situation due to Covid-19. But it is also true that the Indian government has already decided to open religious places on June 8. Except Sikhs, no other religious community across the globe is observing anything like the anniversary of Operation Blue Star. So some relaxations should be given to the community,” said Dal Khalsa spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh.
He further said, “We have a perfect example from London, where local authorities have given permission to organise functions to observe the anniversary despite Covid-19 protocol. It is clear that local police and government have been using Covid-19 an excuse to not allow Sikhs to reach Akal Takht on June 6.”
SGPC Chief Secretary Roop Singh said, “We cannot interfere in the functioning of the administration. But it is possible that they are more active to keep a check on devotees due to Operation Blue Star anniversary. However, we have to maintain protocol inside Golden Temple. From the very first day, we have made devotees follow social distancing…We will continue with it.”
He further said, “The anniversary will be observed at Akal Takht like in previous years. Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh will address the community on June 6 and martyr families will be honoured. It is possible that Covid-19 restrictions will impact the number of Sikhs attending the anniversary, but I still feel people will come, though in small numbers.”
Amritsar Commissioner Sukhchain Singh Gill said, “We have been taking all precautions like last year. We have 3,000 local personnel and 1,600 security personal have been brought in. Covid-19 will not impact out security preparation for the anniversary.”
He denied the allegations of the Dal Khalsa. “We are outside the Golden Temple only to maintain law and order. We are not there to stop anyone,” said Gill.
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