Jathedar Darshan Singh Described It As State Terrorism
NEW DELHI, Jan. 18, Reuter: The entry of Indian police and paramilitary troops into the Golden Temple Complex in Punjab’s Amritsar city last night has sparked strong protests from Sikh religious leaders who described the action as State terrorism.
The leaders, who manage Sikh temples mostly in the northern Punjab state, oppose the Congress (1) supported puppet government in Punjab.
Sikhs are battling for an independent homeland in Punjab where most of India’s 16 million Sikhs live.
Unofficial figures put the death toll last year in the ongoing violence in Punjab at 697. The toll so far this year is at least 35.
Ina midnight crackdown on the Golden Temple complex housing the Sikhs’ holiest shrine, police and paramilitary troops arrested six alleged freedom fighters and detained 54 others, police said.
But the operation that lasted three hours roused strong feelings among Sikh religious leaders who. Threatened action to prevent future police entry into Sikh Temples.
“The way the police raided the Complex without solid reasons and harassed the pilgrims amounted to government terrorism”, said Jathedar Darshan Singh, head priest of the Akal Takht (The seat of Spiritual Authority) of the Golden Temple.
Police also harassed employees of the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee (SGPC) during their search, he said in a statement.
The S.G.P.C. which manages Sikh shrines mostly in Punjab, has offices in the temple complex.
S.G.P.C. acting President Harinder Singh has called an emergency meeting of the Committee on Friday to chalk out steps to check in future the entry of police and paramilitary troops into the Golden Temple Complex, S.G.P.C. officials said.
Defending the action, Punjab Police Director-general Julio Ribeiro told Reuters in Chandigarh, the State capital, that the search was based on information that two Sikhs staying there, sought by the police, were being tortured by a rival group in the Temple Complex.
He said ‘one of the arrested Sikhs was Mohinder Singh Malla, suspected to be involved in several murders.
Ribeiro denied allegations of harassing pilgrims or S.G.P.C. employees.
Police storming of the Sikh Temple in the past has created serious political problems for Punjab Chief Minister Surjit Singh Barnala.
The police action was the third in the Complex since April, 1986, when police and paramilitary commandoes swept into the area to arrest Sikh leaders who declared a sovereign Sikh nation.
The commando action split the Akali Party and 26 lawmakers formed a formed a separate rival group.
Barnala survived a no confidence motion in State parliament last month with the help of India’s ruling Congress (I) party.
The last time the police and paramilitary troops entered the Golden Temple Complex was two months ago during the elections to the S.G.P.C.
Candidates supported by the ruling Akali Dal lost and the new S.G.P.C. Committee has demanded withdrawal of paramilitary forces posted outside the Golden Temple. The State government has rejected the demand.
Sikh freedom fighters gained momentum after the Indian army stormed the Golden Temple.
Article extracted from this publication >> January 23, 1987