CHANDIGARH, India: May 9, Reuter: Sikh freedom fighters fought a three hour gun battle with police at their religion’s holiest shrine, the Golden Temple in Amritsar, on Monday, seriously wounding a senior police officer.

According to spokesman of police in the State capital, Chandigarh, freedom fighters fired on a police party led by Deputy Inspector General S.S. Virk which tried to stop the militants from building a brick emplacement near one of the entrances.

Virk was wounded when the militants opened fire at about 1.30 p.m. Police said two passersby were also injured in the firing that continued until at least 4.30 p.m.

“We are keeping all our options open, but we have not decided to enter the temple yet,” said Ribeiro.

Police have tightened security around the sprawling temple complex and taken positions on building overlooking the temple walls in response to what police have said was a separatist drive to fortify the shrine.

In June, 1984, the Indian army assaulted the complex and killed at least 10,000 pilgrims in that operation which alienated many of India’s 16 million Sikhs.

Since then, however, the freedom fighters have gradually regained control of the complex.

Police immediately imposed curfew in the city.

In New Delhi, Home Minister Buta Singh met police officials from Sikh dominated Punjab and neighbouring Hindu majority Haryana state to discuss the mounting violence.

Police across northern India were put on maximum alert! At the weekend following the massacre by three separatist gunmen of 13 people at a wedding party in Haryana.

Article extracted from this publication >> May 13, 1988