NEW DELHL, India, March 8, Reuter: A Sikh religious leader criticized a police raid on the Golden Temple in Punjab, denying police had sought help from temple authorities to rescue a colleague detained in the shrine. Harrinder Singh, acting President of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (Temple Management Committee) described yesterday’s raid as “extreme highhandedness”.

“If police had information about any untoward happening in the Temple, they should have first sought help of the Temple authorities,” Singh said in a statement. The Press Trust of India news agency said four unarmed policemen in plainclothes were shot and wounded by Sikh militants as they entered the Sikhs’ holiest shrine to rescue a ‘colleague held captive there.

Police said about 300 paramilitary security forces armed with rifles and automatic weapons later stormed into the Temple to bring the four wounded men to safety. One later died in hospital.

Police withdrew from the Temple last night and detained about 35 militants suspected of involvement in violence, district officials told Reuters. Punjab Home Minister, Kan waljit Singh said the Temple authorities had surrendered to militants.

“They are providing the freedom fighters with rooms and other facilities inside the Temple complex”, he told Reuters,

Political observers said the latest action could add to mounting tensions in Punjab where militant Sikhs are fighting for an independent homeland.

At least 145 people have been killed so far this year in freedom related violence in the State.

Punjab Chief Minister Surjit Singh Barnala told reporters earlier this week that he would not allow police to storm the temple, which India’s 14 million Sikhs regard as sacred.

They said the trouble was sparked by militant students who seized an off duty policeman who had gone to pay his respects to Jathedar Darshan Singh, Chief Priest of the Akal Takht, the seat of spiritual authority.

Punjab has become Gandhi’s biggest domestic problem with no political solution in sight. He has refused to consider a separate homeland for Sikhs to be called. Khalistan or, the Jand of the pure. . Freedom fighters have continued their campaign and so far this  year 145, people have been killed ; in the state.

Article extracted from this publication >>  March 13, 1987