Prayers offered at Golden Temple for Operation Bluestar anniversary

Prayers were offered at the Golden Temple complex as the 32nd anniversary of Indian Army's 'Operation Bluestar' passed off peacefully

Prayers were offered at the Golden Temple complex on Monday morning as the 32nd anniversary of Indian Army’s ‘Operation Bluestar’ passed off peacefully.

Except for a few pro-Khalistan and anti-government slogans by a small group of Sikh hardliners, the event passed off peacefully in front of the Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of Sikh religion located inside the temple complex.

Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) task force members and police personnel in plainclothes kept a close watch on the hardliners trying to hijack the ceremony.

The task force members did not allow the hardliners to take control of the function. As many as 15 companies of paramilitary forces including ITBP, CRPF, RAF, besides police personnel in strength, had been deployed. Six companies of paramilitary forces were placed at Amristar while the rest were deployed in Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Patiala.

Akal Takht Jathedar (chief) Gurbachan Singh read out his address to the Sikh community.

SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar said scores of people attended the ceremony. Security agencies were on alert in the Sikh holy city of Amritsar, ahead of the Bluestar anniversary.

Paramilitary forces and Punjab Police personnel kept a close watch in different parts of the city, especially around the Golden Temple complex.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had appealed to all sections to exercise restraint and observe the anniversary peacefully. Mr Badal also termed the ban on media coverage on June 6 inside Golden Temple Complex as “unfortunate”.

The appeal came due to apprehension of clashes between Sikh hardliners and moderates.

In the last three-four years, pro-Khalistan slogans have been raised by hardliners during the anniversary function. Clashes also took place in the last two years.

The Punjab Police detained several radical Sikh leaders ahead of the anniversary as a preventive measure. Police had rounded up activists of SAD (Amritsar) and Damdami Taksal from several places to avoid any trouble. Several activists had also gone underground in the wake of the preventive arrests, official sources said.

Sikh organisation Dal Khalsa has called for an “Amritsar Bandh” on Monday.

Operation Blue Star was an Indian military operation which occurred in 1984, ordered by former prime minister Indira Gandhi in order to establish control over the Golden Temple Complex to flush out the extremists led by Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale.

Bhindranwale, who had taken residence in the temple, made it his headquarters in April 1983.

According to the official estimate presented by the Indian government, 492 civilians were killed, though numbers put forward by independent human rights organizations are significantly higher.