NEW DELHI, India, June 8, Reuter: The Indian government bowed to protests of Punjab residents on Wednesday and postponed demolition of houses and shops for a security zone around the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the Press Trust of India (PTI) said.

Julio Ribeiro, advisor to the Punjab Governor, told a news conference in Amritsar the demolition originally scheduled to begin on Tuesday would be ‘put off until the residents could be “conveniently” relocated, the Press Trust of India (PTI) said.

The conference in Amritsar followed meetings by Home Minister Buta Singh, Punjab Governor S.S.Ray and local officials.

Demolition to clear an area of about 300 meters around the Temple Complex, the holiest shrine of the Sikh faith, had been stopped by residents who demanded relocation to permanent quarters before their homes were knocked down.

“It has been agreed in principle that we will not demolish anything and will not put anybody to any inconvenience. First we have to rehabilitate them.” Ribeiro said PTI reported.

The news agency said, however, that state officials expected to satisfy the residents’ demands and begin demolition with the next few days. It said about 800 families were affected.

The government has been anxious to establish security zone, dubbed by officials “Golden Temple area beautification plan,” to prevent rein filtration of the 16th century complex by militants fighting for an independent Sikh homeland.

Article extracted from this publication >> June 17, 1988