CHHANDIGARH, India, Dec. 30, Reuter: A strike called’ by Sikh students to protest against death sentences imposed on Indira Gandhi’s alleged assassins paralyzed life in Punjab for a

second day today, police said. Few vehicles were seen on the streets of major towns in Punjab and the state capital Chandigarh, and merchants kept their shops shuttered’ down across the state.

A police spokesman told Reuters only a few incidents were reported in the state including the cutting of transmission lines along railway tracks in strife torn Amritsar district.

The general strike began yesterday as a direct challenge to the minority State government of Chief Minister Surjit Singh Barnala which has been struggling to maintain security in the restive north Indian state.

Nearly 700 people have been killed so far this year in Punjab, where Sikhs maintain a clear majority of the 18 million population.

The State Government had cancelled most public transport including local bus services and deployed additional policemen at sensitive spots to curb any outbreak of violence.

The police spokesman said about 560 people had been placed under preventive arrest to forestall violence during the strike.

The strike was called by the All India Sikh Student Federation (AISSF) and was the first major protest against the sentence of death by hanging down last January against three Sikhs convicted in connection with the 1984 killing of Indira Gandhi.

The sentences were confirmed by an appeals court this month, leaving the condemned with one further appeal to the Indian Supreme Court in New Delhi and a last-ditch appeal for mercy to the President of India, Zail Singh.

The Federation also has demanded the release of hundreds of Sikhs detained after troops stormed the Sikhs’ holiest shrine, the Golden Temple, in June, 1984, in Amritsar city.

Article extracted from this publication >>  January 2, 1987