Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh was greeted on New Year’s Day with black flags by a group of Anna Hazare supporters during his Golden Temple visit on Sunday morning.
The PM along with his wife Gursharan Kaur had especially come to the holy city to seek divine blessings on the first day of 2012.
All seemed normal till the PM was inside the shrine but as soon as he emerged from the information office of the shrine, around 20-25 members including a few women of a local NGO 'India against Corruption' started raising slogans in favour of Anna Hazare just outside the Clock Tower entrance to the shrine from where the sanctum sanctorum is clearly visible.
Holding pamphlets of the anti corruption crusader, they chanted Anna Hazare Zindabad and repeatedly said PM Wapas Jao, Mazboot Lokpal Bill Le Ke Aao (PM go back and bring a strong Lokpal Bill)
The sloganeering continued for about ten minutes but the protestors made no attempts to break the security cordon and get close to the Prime Minister. The PM seemed unfazed by the protest and in his characteristic style, he waived towards the devotees present at the entrance of the shrine before getting into his car and driving off.
As all this happened, the cops made no attempts to disperse the protestors who had intermingled in the sea of devotees, who had come to pay obeisance on New Year's Day.
Amritsar police commissioner RP Mittal did head towards the protestors but then backtracked towards the PM.
The SGPC, which had accorded a warm welcome to the Prime Minister and his wife, took strong objections to the sloganeering and showing of black flags outside the Clock Tower entrance, which is part of the Golden Temple complex.
Talking to HT, SGPC secretary Dalmegh Singh said, "This is no place to stage such protests and that too against the Prime Minister, who had come to pay obeisance at Harmandar Sahib on the auspicious occasion of New Year’s Day. Moreover it was a personal visit and not a political one."
Anna Hazare supporter Parmod Kumar justified the protest and said, "If the PM can drive his car up to the premises of the shrine then we can also stage protest. Moreover we did not enter the main shrine."
Earlier, the PM with his wife were greeted outside the shrine by SGPC general secretary Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, member Kiranjot Kaur, secretary Dalmegh Singh and others.
The PM stayed for an hour inside the shrine and listened to kirtan inside the sanctum sanctorum.
He and his wife were presented Siropas (robe of honour) by Harmandar Sahib head Granthi Gyani Jaswinder Singh inside the sanctum sanctorum. The two were also presented siropas by a priest at the Akal takht.
Later at the information office, Bhaur presented a siropa and replica of Harmandar Sahib and a set of religious books to the PM. Likewise Kiranjot Kaur also honoured Gursharan Kaur.
Later, the PM and his wife paid obeisance at Durgiana Mandir where they were also honoured.Black flags not at out behest: Team Anna | PM visits golden temple, shown black flags