Sikhs with swords, sticks clash with guards at faith’s holiest shrine in India; 6 wounded (w/ gallery)



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Indian Sikh members of the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabhandak Committee (SGPC) hold swords during clashes with activists at commemorations for the 30th anniversary of Operation Blue Star at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on June 6, 2014. NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW DELHI — Sikhs brandishing swords and sticks and shouting for a new homeland clashed with guards at the faith’s holiest shrine in India, an official said. Six people were wounded.

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.

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 Sikh homeland.

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

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 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 assassinated 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.

05:56ET 06-06-14

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