The 25th anniversary of Operation Bluestar carried out by the Indian Army at the Golden Temple complex at Amritsar, which houses the holiest of Sikh shrines Harmandar Sahib, remained a subdued affair Saturday with the ruling Akali Dal leadership in Punjab virtually cold-shouldering the entire event.
The main function was held behind closed doors inside the Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of the Sikh religion, which was addressed by Akal Takht chief, Jathedar Gurbachan Singh.
Though hardline leaders from Damdami Taksal, Dal Khalsa and other radical organisations were present, people did not turn out in large numbers.
"This clearly shows that the Sikh community has moved on with 1984. Even the number of devotees at the shrine today were less than normal on any weekend," said a Sikh religious leader or 'granthi', who came for Saturday's function.
The Akal Takht chief's speech too was subdued even though he did condemn the army assault.
Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Avtar Singh Makkar was present. However, the SGPC did not hold any separate function to mark the event as it did in previous years.
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is also the Akali Dal president, and other top Akali leaders were conspicuous by their absence.
Some activists of radical organisation Dal Khalsa held a silent protest outside the Golden Temple complex to mark the day.
The Indian Army had carried out its operation on the shrine, codenamed Operation Bluestar, to flush out heavily armed militants led by separatist preacher Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, in June 1984.
Over 400 people, including women, children and soldiers, were killed in the gunbattle between both sides. Unofficial reports put the toll at over five times the figure.
Nearly 100,000 troops were roped in by the central government to crush militancy in Punjab and free the shrine from terrorists. The orders for the operation were given by then prime minister Indira Gandhi.
She paid for the move with her life when her two Sikh bodyguards shot her dead at her official residence in New Delhi on Oct 31, 1984. Her death led to violent anti-Sikh riots in Delhi and elsewhere in the country, leaving over 3,000 Sikhs dead and hundreds injured and homeless.