CHANDIGARH, India: May 26, Reuter: Police chasing militant Sikh separatists in the North Indian state of Punjab said on Thursday they had killed ‘one of their own men by mistake and wounded six.

Police in Chandigarh, the Punjab capital, said the incident occurred on Wednesday after a raid on a separatist hideout near the city of Jullundur from which some of the militants escaped.

Two groups of police ran into each other and one opened fire, killing police superintendent Telu Ram.

Police said Ram’s group returned the fire and six paramilitary police were wounded in the shootout.

Police said the group that opened fire apparently mistook Ram and his men for the militants.

They said one militant was killed in the initial raid. One of a series police are conducting to finish militants fighting for an independent Sikh homeland in Punjab.

Two other freedom fighters were killed in raids in the area around Kapurthala on Wednesday, they said.

Many of the raids are being made on the basis of information received from some 200 militants who surrendered during a 10day siege of the Golden Temple, the Sikh faith’s holiest shrine, police said.

Two other people were killed, bringing the total number of victims of separatist violence year to over 1,200.

Police have imposed a tight security cordon around the Golden Temple in the old walled city of Amritsar in a bid to ensure that freedom fighters do not take it over again.

Pilgrims, allowed back into the temple since Monday, are escorted there in groups, searched on entry, and escorted out again after making their devotions.

The temple’s management committee on Wednesday rebuffed a police demand that it give written assurances that armed gunmen would not be allowed into the vast complex.

Committee spokesman Ujagar Singh Rangretta said reporters no assurances could be given until six leaders now in prison were released.

“It is the responsibility of the government to stop the inflow of arms into the temple”, he added.

Article extracted from this publication >> June 3, 1988