Clash at Sikh shrine in India wounds half a dozen

Photo: Clash at Sikh shrine in India wounds half a dozen / Other News

Half a dozen people were wounded Friday as members of a Sikh group brandishing swords and wooden sticks clashed with guards at the Sikhs' holiest shrine in India, an official said.

The clash occurred during a ceremony marking the anniversary of the storming of the shrine by the Indian army in June 1984 in the northern city of Amritsar, said Kiran Jyoti Kaur, a Golden Temple management spokeswoman, AP reported.

Kaur said supporters of the Shiromani Akali Dal, led by Simranjeet Singh Mann, turned violent and then were chased away by temple guards. They were shouting slogans for an independent homeland for the Sikhs.

The CNN-IBN television channel said police detained nearly 50 people, and that many shops closed because of the tension in Amritsar city.

Naresh Gujral, a leader of governing Akali Dal group in the state, condemned the clash inside the shrine.

The 1984 Indian army operation to establish control over the shrine, ordered by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, was one of the most contentious episodes in India's battle against Sikh separatists in the 1980s.

Sikh militants had holed up in the temple for months. The Indian army botched an attempt to clear them from the holy site, badly underestimating the resistance at first before being drawn into a three-day assault.

The attack outraged Sikhs and led to a catastrophic breakdown in communal relations.

When Gandhi was killed by her Sikh guards in a revenge attack a few months later, the country erupted. Mobs overran trains and went house to house across northern India, beating and killing thousands of Sikhs, hacking many to death and burning others alive.

The insurgency was stamped out in the late 1980s.

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Tags: clashes, India