Amritsar — to complete unfinished task of ‘Operation Blue Star’ paramilitary forces again invaded the Golden Temple before dawn Saturday on the pretext of arresting suspected assailants of Congress (1) leader R. L. Bhatia who was shot at a day earlier.
Five pilgrims and two employees of the kitchen (Langar) were arrested and govt. officials claimed that they have recovered a shotgun, a hand grenade and a homemade pistol from the temple complex. This claim was questioned by the Temple sources and they said that no arms were recovered from the complex and police was using its timeworn practice of planting arms to justify its illegal actions.
Police said that the troops searched the residential areas of the complex, and did not enter the holy places. Authorities did not identify the arrested men or say what they were accused of.
“The soldiers broke locks, stole office records and harassed pilgrims. It was nothing but predawn banditry,’’ Sikh religious council leader Prem Singh Lalpura said.
Jagdev Singh Talwandi, a leader of the Sikhs’ Akali Dal party, called the raid a second ‘‘Operation Blue Star.”’ That was the codename for last June’s army assault on the temple.
He told the United News of India the assumption that assassins or criminals were hiding inside the shrine was “baseless.”
Last June, army troops assaulted the temple and in a three-day battle, sources said about 6,000 Sikhs and 200 soldiers were killed.
Saturday’s raid was the first time security forces had entered the temple complex since Oct. 1, when police broke up a demonstration by militant youths.
The police and the Central Reserve Police Force entered the complex Saturday to look for men who on Friday shot and wounded R.L. Bhatia, leader of the governing Congress Party in Amritsar, and killed another man.
Authorities said they also were looking for radical youths who publicly demanded secession and praised Mrs. Garidhi’s assassins during the Sikhs’ Baisakhi festival celebrations in Amritsar earlier this month.
Article extracted from this publication >> April 26, 1985