AMRITSARS, JUNE 6, REUTER — Bulldozers headed for the north Indian city of Amritsar on Monday to start demolishing houses and clear a security zone around the Golden Temple, the holiest shrine of the Sikh faith.

Demolition of the maze of houses nestling around the vast temple complex was due to start ‘Of Tuesday, three weeks after a 10day siege of militant Sikh separatists inside the temple.

The revived “Golden Temple area beautification plan”, long lying in a bureaucratic pigeon hole; was resurrected in a bid to prevent Sikhs using the Golden Temple to fight for an independent Sikh homeland in the state of Punjab.

The siege ended on May 18 with the surrender of the last 46 barricaded militants fighting for a homeland they call Khalistan (Land of the Pure),

The government victory, however, has not halted the separatist movement in Punjab. More than 1,200 have been killed this year, only slightly fewer than in the whole of 1987.

Punjab officials said Tuesday’s start of the demolition might only be symbolic as bulldozers sent from Chandigakh, the Punjab capital, and New Delhi might not arrive on time,

But they said the bulldozers would start work as soon as they did arrive on razing houses in the narrow lanes around the Golden Temple.

They have provided clandestine routes into the complex the Indian’ government is determined to shut off, It says a cleared area will be easier to watch and make it easier for police to prevent the freedom fighters from getting into the temple.

In the first phase of demolition, scheduled to take six months, the bulldozers will clear a 30meter (100foot) swathe of ground the Temple officials said.

A second phase of the plan would take the cleared area to 100 meters (330 feet).

Article extracted from this publication >> June 10, 1988