Three-tier security has been put in place in Amritsar and elaborate security arrangements have been made in several other parts of Punjab ahead of the 32nd anniversary of Operation Bluestar on Monday.
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar on Sunday appealed to all sections to exercise restraint and observe the anniversary peacefully.
Nearly 8,000 police personnel, besides six companies of paramilitary forces, have been camping in Amritsar for a week now, deployed at 200-odd checkpoints.
“We have made sufficient deployment of security forces in Amritsar, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Patiala,” a senior Punjab police official told PTI on Sunday.
As many as 15 companies of paramilitary forces including ITBP, CRPF, RAF, besides police personnel in strength, have been deployed.
“Six Companies of paramilitary forces have been placed at Amritsar while rest will be deployed in Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Patiala,” he said.
As part of a statewide police crackdown on radical Sikhs, police has already rounded up activists of SAD (Amritsar) and Damdami Taksal from several places to avoid any trouble.
Several activists have also gone underground in the wake of the preventive arrests, official sources said.
Sikh radicals gathering every year at the Akal Takht to remember the 1984 military raid on the shrine to flush out militants had clashed with the SGPC Task Force in 2014 and 2015. On June 6 last year, five youths were injured in a clash inside the Golden Temple .
This year, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has doubled the strength of its task force and installed more security cameras inside the shrine.
“We are confident about the city’s security plan and banking upon the border range police to keep an eye on the rural segments,” said police commissioner Amar Singh Chahal. Police are deployed both inside and outside the shrine, besides markets and entry points.
“Other than screening and profiling potential troublemakers, we’ll have a secret network for inputs. We will not allow anyone to force closure of shops,” said the police commissioner. During ‘Genocide Remembrance March’ on June 3, Sikh radical organisation Dal Khlasa had called for a shutdown in Amritsar on Monday.
Media allowed inside Golden Temple
Meanwhile, taking a u-turn, the SGPC decided to allow media coverage in the Golden Temple premises on Monday.
“We are allowing the media with the humble request that they should maintain the sanctity of the Golden Temple, since certain media people some time create interruption in SGPC programmes. We always require media coverage and support,” SGPC chief secretary Harcharan Singh said on Sunday.
In a letter to the Police Commissioner and the district Public Relation Officer, Singh had on Saturday sought police help to keep the media away from the periphery of the Golden Temple on June 6 when the anniversary of Operation Star is to be observed.
He had alleged that media always interfered in SGPC programmes, hence coverage by electronic media as well as photo journalists won’t be allowed as it may hurt the sentiments of Sikh devotees.
On June, 1984, over 1,000 lives were claimed during Operation Bluestar, the raid on Sikh’s holiest shrine Golden Temple to cow down extremists led by Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale. Bhindrawale and his associates were killed in the operation.
(With inputs from PTI)