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HindustanTimes Wed,30 Jul 2014

Normalcy returns to Golden Temple after clash

Harkirat Singh, Hindustan Times  Amritsar, June 07, 2014
First Published: 23:33 IST(7/6/2014) | Last Updated: 23:41 IST(7/6/2014)

Normalcy returned to the Golden Temple on Saturday with a large number of devotees paying obeisance at the shrine that witnessed a bloody clash on Friday between the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) task force members and a group of radicals.

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"The rush at the shrine was normal with the usual long lines of devotees waiting for their turn to pay obeisance at the sanctum sanctorum," said an SGPC official at the information office of the shrine.

This showed that the clash on the 30th anniversary of Operation Bluestar at the Akal Takht had not scared the devotees. This was in contrast to the post Operation Black Thunder days, when even a minor incident inside the shrine would have an immediate impact on the devotees the following day.

The clash had scared the pilgrims who were present inside the shrine when it occurred. However, by the evening, everything returned to normal and those who had checked in at the serais in the shrine complex at noon on Friday preferred to stay on and did not go back without paying obeisance, SGPC officials told HT that in the late eighties such incidents would be followed by pilgrims vacating the serais and moving out into nearby hotels and guesthouses.

Security alert
However, despite normalcy having returned, the SGPC task force remained alert inside the complex.

The police were also on the alert, particularly in the vicinity of the Golden Temple and in certain parts of the old walled city.

Additional policemen have been posted in the markets opposite the Clock Tower entrance of the shrine and even outside the main entry and exit gates leading to the serais and SGPC offices.

A joint team of the SGPC and the police saw the CCTV footage to identify those responsible for the clash. The cops have not ruled out arresting a few more persons. The arrest of SAD (Amritsar) leader Simranjit Singh Mann has also not been ruled out, though a case is yet to be registered against him.

SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar has blamed Mann for the clash. Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh, however, felt "it was the work of agencies, whose members may have infiltrated into the shrine to cause trouble in an attempt to defame Sikhs".

SGPC secretary Dalmegh Singh, when asked about a possible inquiry, said, "So far no decision has been taken. It may be taken in a day or two."

Blood donation camp
Meanwhile, the Akal Purkh ki Fauj, a social-cum-religious group, on Saturday held a blood donation camp near gurdwara Ramsar and appealed for peace and communal harmony.

Its patron Jaswinder Singh said, "The idea behind holding the camp is to send a message that instead of spilling blood we must join hands to donate blood and save lives. Gurdwaras are places of worship and not places for shedding blood."

Around 120 members of the group and their relatives and friends donated blood, according to Jaswinder Singh Jassi, a member of the group.

21 arrested sent to judicial custody
Amritsar: The 21 people arrested by the police for their alleged involvement in the clash were sent to judicial custody by the court on Saturday.

There were tight security arrangements at the judicial complex when activists of radical groups were brought to the court.

The police had arrested them when they came out of the Golden Temple complex allegedly after creating ruckus.

Police commissioner Jatinder Aulakh said efforts were on to nab the remaining seven suspects.

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