NEW DELHI, India, May 26, Reuter: The Indian government banned on Thursday the storage of arms and the sheltering of criminal suspects in temples in its continuing crackdown on Sikh militants waging an armed separatist campaign.
The decree prohibits sheltering of accused or convicted persons inside a religious place, and bans storing of arms and ammunition and construction of fortifications,
It was promulgated a week after more than 150 Sikh militants fighting for an independent homeland surrendered to paramilitary forces after a 10 day siege at the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the holiest shrine of the Sikh faith.
Earlier on Thursday, police in Amritsar said they found five decomposed bodies from a heap of rubble inside the temple.
- Somiah, a senior Home Ministry official, told reporters the ordinance says managers or employees of religious institution can be jailed up to five years or fined up to 10,000 rupees (800 dollars) for breaking the new law.
It is applicable to all religious institutions but Sikhs will still be allowed to wear their ceremonial swords as required by their religion inside their shrines.
The shrine in Amritsar is now under the control of security forces in the North India state of Punjab which has asked Sikh temple authorities to give written assurance they would not allow it to be misused by militants.
The temple authorities have blamed the government for smuggling of weapons into the temple and refused to give such an assurance.
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