Barring a couple of minor incidents of clash between policemen and protesters, the city witnessed a peaceful and complete shutdown following a call given by the Dal Khalsa on the 31st anniversary of Operation Bluestar on Saturday.
As the bandh call was given a few days ahead of the anniversary, the entire city remained closed, while the roads were swamped by police and paramilitary troops, including Border Security Force (BSF) and Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF).
Although there was no indication of the deployment of paramilitary troops in Amritsar by Friday evening, police commissioner Jatinder Singh Aulakh claimed that a last minute message from the Centre and one company each of the CRPF and the BSF were sent to us.
Over 3,000 cops were deployed in the city since morning to ensure that no procession was taken out and no outfit forced shopkeepers to shut their establishments.
Police also carried out flag marches — led by the police commissioner and deputy commissioner Pardeep Sabharwal and deputy commissioner of police (DCP) Parampal Singh — in areas around the Golden Temple and in the walled city to instil a sense of security among residents.
Considering the situation tense, police took taken no chance and threw a thick security blanket in and around the city. Besides, policemen in civil clothes were deployed in the shrine.
The impact of the bandh was such that the roads wore a deserted look, while major markets, petrol pumps and even some of the private banks remained closed.
At Atta Mandi, police chased down a group of youths and detained some of them when they were trying to come out on the streets with swords in their hands. At least 15 youths were detained by police, who also resorted to mild lathi charge to disperse them. Police also detained around 15 activists of the Shiv Sena on suspicion that they could hold parallel protests in the city. The DCP, however, said a total of 111 people were detained from various parts of the city.
Speaking to Hindustan Times, Aulakh said: “Our main motive was to stop outfits to go to the streets to force shopkeepers to shutdown their establishments. We did not let it happen. Though an incident took place near Atta Mandi, cops immediately swung into action and detained those who were trying to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere.”
“We are keeping a close eye on all hotels and entry points to the city to ensure that no anti-social element tries to create any sort of problem,” said Aulakh.
“We will not compromise with the security of the city and the paramilitary forces will stay here for a couple of days to ensure that the atmosphere remains peaceful,” he added.
As police and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) taskforce had blocked the stairs of the Akal Takht, photojournalists were not allowed to go inside. Also, when the clash broke out, photojournalists who were outside the shrine were not allowed to move inside the shrine. However, they went inside later.