New Delhi, India — Police raided Sikh temples and homes Saturday and arrested more than 100 suspects, including army officers, in a search for the assassins of two governments. Officials, the Press Trust of India said.
Some of those arrested had definite “terrorist” connections, the domestic news agency said.
A police spokesman in New Delhi declined to confirm or deny the report, which the Press Trust attributed to “police sources.”
Sikh temple officials confirmed police entered New Delhi’s Rakabganj temple at 4 a.m. to search for suspects, but said they did not know of any arrests.
The Press Trust said about 24 of the suspects including a senior army officer, could have been involved in the assassinations of Parliament member Lalit Maken and Delhi Councilman Arjun Dass. The news agency said the suspects included army officers and government officials but did not identify them or say how many.
The two members of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s ruling congress were killed for their alleged roles instigating anti-Sikh riots last November following the assassination of Gandhi’s mother, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, by two of her Sikh bodyguards.
Lalit was killed July 31 and Arjun Dass on Sept. 4 by men firing submachine guns. The killers fled on motor scooters. Me)
The police sources quoted by the Press Trust said two of the three killers of Maken were identified as Bakhshish Singh and Harjinder Singh Jinda, both Sikhs from Amritsar district in the northern state of Punjab, where militant Sikhs would like to set up a separate state.
The two men were also suspects in the murder of Dass.”
“We have been on the trial of the killers, but unfortunately we missed it at certain places in Punjab,’ the Press Trust quoted one source as saying.
“This morning we sent about half a dozen police parties to several places for tracking the killers,’ he said,
The Press Trust said the police parties raided four Sikh temples in New Delhi along with a number of other suspected hideouts:
The English language Evening News said “Delhi police (are) slowly and surely tightening the noose on the killers.”
Police also made arrests in Jalandhar district in Punjab state, the Press Trust reported.
The agency said the number of arrests was “quite substantial.”
It said the arrests were made to forestall plans to disrupt state election set for Sept. 25.
Sikhism was founded in the 16th century as a mystical, monotheistic alternative to Hinduism and Islam. The sturdy, industrious Sikh peasantry has made the northern state of Punjab, where they form a majority of the population, the richest state in India.
But relations between the Sikhs and Hindus have been strained since 1982, when the Sikh political party, the Akali Dal, launched a movement against, the central government in an attempt to win more political, economic, and religious autonomy for Punjab.