NEW DELHI, India, June 12, Reuter: Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi said on Sunday he was determined to press on with a security plan involving demolition around the Golden Temple, the holiest Sikh shrine.

“If necessary, bulldozers will be pressed into service both political as well as diesel operated bulldozers,” the Press Trust of India (PTI) quoted him as telling reporters on his way home from a four nation tour.

The razing of houses crowded around the Golden Temple in Amritsar had been delayed by disputes over alternative homes for people displaced.


PTI said the first house was demolished on Saturday. Under the government plan all except historic buildings within 30 meters of the vast Temple complex. Will be pulled down within six months to clear an easily policed area.

The government was in a hurry to start the work after paramilitary forces laid siege to the Golden Temple for 10 days in May to appease the Hindu passions on the eve of Parliamentary by-election scheduled for June 16.

Nearly 200 of the militants who have been conducting a campaign for a homeland in the northern state of Punjab surrendered during the siege and New Delhi said it was determined not to allow the militants back into the shrine.

Ultimately the security plan officially called the Golden Temple area beautification plan will see the demolition of nearly all the buildings within 300 meters.

Shopkeepers and other residents of buildings due for immediate demolition staged protests that delayed the start of work for nearly a week, demanding that alternative accommodation be provided before they were moved out.

A series of meetings between the residents and top Punjab government officials resolved the problem and more than 1,000 shops and houses were made available along with monetary compensation, newspaper reported.

Acting on confessions from the militants who surrendered, Punjab police and paramilitary forces have stepped up their actions against the separatists and appear to have at least temporarily cut down the number of killings.

Nearly 1,250 people have been killed in the campaign this year, more than in the in whole of 1987.

Over the last week, daily police reports of deaths have dropped to only a few from the double figure tolls which had become almost routine.

Article extracted from this publication >> June 17, 1988