Amritsar on alert ahead of Operation Bluestar anniversary

Amritsar, June 5 (IANS) Security agencies were on alert in the Sikh holy city of Amritsar, ahead of the 32nd anniversary of army’s ‘Operation Bluestar’ in the Golden Temple complex to be observed on Monday (June 6).

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar appealed to all sections to exercise restraint and observe the anniversary peacefully.

The appeal came due to apprehension of clashes between Sikh hardliners and moderates.

Paramilitary forces and Punjab Police personnel were keeping a close watch in different parts of Amritsar city, especially around the Golden Temple complex.

Prayers were held at the Akal Takht inside the Golden Temple complex on Sunday. The prayers will conclude on Monday.

In the last three-four years, pro-Khalistan slogans have been raised by hardliners during the anniversary function. Clashes also took place between both sides in the last two years.

Badal told media in Tarmala village in Muktsar district on Sunday that the state government was committed to maintain peace and communal harmony.

“The state government is keeping a strict vigil over the entire situation and every effort would be made to maintain law and order,” he said.

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Makkar on Sunday reversed a decision by the SGPC chief secretary barring media from entering the Golden Temple complex and regretted such a notice was issued.

Badal also termed the ban on media coverage on June 6 inside Golden Temple Complex as “unfortunate”.

“I have called up the SGPC Chief Secretary today (Sunday) morning and urged him to reconsider these orders. Such orders are totally against the spirit of democratic nations as media is the fourth pillar of democracy,” he said.

The Punjab Police detained several radical Sikh leaders ahead of the anniversary as a preventive measure.

In Ludhiana, hardliner Sikh leaders Daljit Singh Bittu, Manvinder Singh Giaspura and Jaswant Singh Cheema were detained.

Radical leader Dhian Singh Mand, who was last year appointed as interim jathedar (chief) of the Akal Takht by Sikh hardliners at a congregation near Amritsar, was also taken into custody by Ferozepur police.

Mand was detained to prevent him from reaching the Akal Takht to address people during functions to mark the anniversary.

In Bathinda, the police detained hardline leader Gurdip Singh and Hardeep Mehraj.

Radical Sikh organization Dal Khalsa has called for an ‘Amritsar Bandh’ on Monday.

Several people, including security personnel, were killed ‘Operation Bluestar’, the Army’s action on Amritsar’s Golden Temple complex in June 1984 to flush out armed extremists.



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