AMRITSAR – Clashes broke out between sword-wielding Sikhs on Friday at the Golden Temple in northern India on the 30th anniversary of a notorious army raid on the site.
At least two people were wounded in the violence, according to an AFP photographer at the temple in the city of Amritsar, which is the holiest shrine in the Sikh religion. Hundreds of Sikhs had gathered at the shrine to pay their respects to those killed in the June 6, 1984 raid of the temple by the Indian troops aimed at flushing out ‘separatists’ demanding an independent Sikh homeland.
“Today we were supposed to have a solemn remembrance for the martyrs of 1984 so what has happened is very sad,” said a spokesman for the Shiromani Akali Dal – a radical outfit – whose supporters were involved in the clashes. “The temple has once again been dishonoured today,” the spokesman Prem Singh Chandumajra told reporters.
Television footage showed two groups of Sikhs sporting blue and saffron turbans chasing each other with swords on the marbled staircase of the revered shrine in Punjab state. The clashes broke out after members of Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) insisted they be allowed to speak on the microphone first.
At least 400 people were killed in the army’s Operation Blue Star in 1980, the anniversary of which is commemorated on June 6.