Golden Temple sees thick security blanket, mild fall in pilgrims’ number

  • Aseem Bassi, Hindustan Times, Amritsar
  • Updated: Nov 11, 2015 17:20 IST
Devotees pay obeisance at Golden Temple on the occasion of Diwali festival in Amritsar on Wednesday . (Sameer Sehgal/ HT photo)

Amid the simmering tension in Amritsar after the Sarbat Khalsa, the Golden Temple on Wednesday not only witnessed a mild fall in number of pilgrims but also a thick security blanket thrown around the holy shrine.

The Plaza outside the Golden Temple, which is normally packed with pilgrims, this Diwali witnessed deployment of Rapid Action Force (RAF) and Punjab police cops, numbering around 250.

A major reason for the mild fall in number of pilgrims visiting the shrine was due to the SGPC’s decision of not celebrating Diwali this year due to the incidents of Guru Granth Sahib sacrilege. The SGPC had also appealed to the Sikh Community to refrain from fireworks and the ceremonial lighting.

Meanwhile, police officials claimed that after Sarbat Khalsa’s announcement that the jathedars will be going to Akal Takht to give a ‘sandesh’ to quam, possibilities of a clash emerged. This could be another reason for the fall in number of pilgrims, claimed cops.

As the SGPC had rejected all the resolutions of the Sarbat Khalsa, the SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar had also announced that Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh will give ‘sandesh’ to the quam on Bandi Chhor Diwas.

The security has been beefed up inside the shrine as well. Not only the cops and intelligence officials were seen in plain clothes, SGPC’s task force too was maintaining a tight vigil outside the Akal Takht.

The SGPC had also called in its employees who were on leave to ensure that the day passes off peacefully.

As Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh is likely to give ‘Sandesh’ at around 5:00 pm, security has been highly beefed up as due to speculations that panthic bodies could raise opposition.

No march towards Akal Takht

As announced during the Sarbat Khalsa, no march was taken out to Golden Temple till the filing of this report.

Since the police had started conducting raids, the cops had detained SAD (Amritsar) chief Simranjit Singh Mann and United Akali Dal head Mohkam Singh in the early hours of the day.

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