At least two people were injured in a post-function clash on 31st anniversary of Bluestar between a group of Sikh radicals and the SGPC officials on Saturday afternoon. The radicals were raising pro-Khalistani slogans inside the Golden Temple while brandishing swords when they ran into a scuffle with SGPC task force.
This after the function organised at Akal Takht to commemorate the anniversary in the morning passed off peacefully amid heavy sloganeering of Khalistan Zindabad by radicals who brandished sheathed swords and some other sharp edged articles of faith carried by them.
Police detained as many as 45 persons after SGPC task force thrashed the members of group who were moving around the Golden Temple parikarma raising pro-Khalistani slogans while waving swords. The clash took place near the Akal Takht at about 1:15 pm.
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A police official said the radicals had nearly completed two rounds of the parikarma raising the pro-Khalistani slogans and were adamant to make as many as 11 rounds in total.
They ran into a scuffle with SGPC task force over this who told them not to indulge in such kind of practice in the shrine and who mostly used canes to thrash them. The radicals were then handed over to the police.
Amritsar Deputy Commissioner of Police Parampal Singh said, “Two persons have been injured. One has sustained injury on head and had to be administered two stitches and other has sustained injury on lips”.
SGPC secretary Roop Singh said, “We handed over as many as seven persons to the police and among them three were non-Sikhs who were wearing headgears (dumaale) and were carrying swords”.
Earlier, the police detained more than 30 other radical Sikhs who left the Golden Temple premises raising Khalistan Zindabad slogans and entered a market nearby.
They were lathi charged by the police and taken into “preventive custody”. Amritsar Deputy Commissioner of Police Parampal Singh said the radicals were taken into preventive custody from the market as they were resorting to “hooliganism” and were hitting at the shutters of the shops. Dal Khalsa had given a call of Punjab bandh on Saturday. Amritsar witnessed a complete shutdown till the evening.
Police also detained as many as 10 Shiv Sena leaders in the morning to prevent any clash with Sikh hardliners as the Shiv Sena leaders had planned a march up to Jallianwala Bagh, DCP said.
Earlier, Akal Takht chief Giani Gurbachan Singh in his address said wounds of 1984 (Operation Bluestar) were “unforgettable” and appeared as if it had happened on Friday.
In his address to the Sikh community from Akal Takht, Singh condemned then union government for trying to end the existence of holiest of shrines Golden Temple, and the Akal Takht. He added that like August 15 was celebrated with great fervour as Independence Day, June 6 would always be called a day of huge grief for Sikh community.
“The sacrifice of thousands of Sikhs have made this week a martyr week, the pain of which would remain in the hearts of Sikhs till eternity,” Singh said.
Before his address, a prayer (ardas) was read out from Akal Takht by Takht Keshgarh Sahib chief Giani Mal Singh to condemn the Operation Bluestar and to eulogise those killed in the shrine during army operation.
The prayer invoked the name of slain Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as it condemned her and the union government for “attack” on Golden Temple and killing Sikhs leaders led by Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale and Amrik Singh.
The situation turned tense soon after address of Akal Takht chief was over and Sikh leaders started to move out from Akal Takht. The pro-Khalistani slogans were initially raised by a group of people who were moving behind Damdami Taksal chief Harnam Singh Khalsa and United Akali Dal president Mohkam Singh.
The pro-Khalistani sloganeering went viral in the crowd in no time. It further escalated after SAD (Amritsar) leader Dhian Singh Mand started to make an address. He was representing the party in the absence of party president Simranjit Singh Mann who did not turn up for the function due to health reasons as he was being “monitored” for a cardiac problem at PGI, Chandigarh.
After slogans of Khalistan Zindabad echoed around Akal Takht for nearly half an hour, the radical Sikhs then started a march in the Golden Temple parikarma, carrying a banner seeking Khalistan and raising Khalistan Zindabad slogans. It was after the radicals started to move around parikarma Sikh clergy including Akal Takht chief, and SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar came out of Akal Takht and left from there.
Amritsar Deputy Commissioner of Police Parampal Singh told late Saturday evening that after preliminary investigations out of nearly 80 persons detained by police in connection with two incidents, one relating to clash in the Golden Temple in the afternoon and other relating to “hooliganism by miscreants” in the morning, preventive action was being taken against as many as 31 persons and remaining were being let off.
Akal Takht chief calls for ending the political evils, drug menace
In his address, Akal Takht chief Giani Gurbachan Singh said that the youth were earlier ruined by the government and now drugs were ruining the youth. He called for a joint effort to end the menace of drugs and to wean away youth from addiction to save Punjab from drugs.
He also called upon to respect the women and to end the malpractice of female foeticide. Akal Takht chief also gave a message to end apostasy (patitpuna) among the Sikhs, besides remaining aware of evil designs of self styled gurudom. He also batted for the release of Sikh detainees lodged in various jails for a long time
Meanwhile, a similar function at Sikh seminary Damdami Taksal witnessed a massive turnout. SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar and DSGMC president Manjit Singh G K were among those who attended the function at Mehta.