UK & World News

  • 6 June 2014, 16:47

Amritsar Sword Fight On Massacre Anniversary

Six people have been injured after members of a Sikh group brandishing swords and wooden sticks clashed with guards at the Sikhs' holiest shrine in India.

The violence broke out during a ceremony to mark the 30th anniversary of the storming of the Golden Temple by the Indian army in 1984 in the northern city of Amritsar.

Kiran Jyoti Kaur, a Golden Temple management spokeswoman, said supporters of the Shiromani Akali Dal, a Sikhism-centric political party, 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.

The 1984 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, underestimating the resistance at first before being drawn into a three-day assault more than 1,000 were massacred.

The attack outraged Sikhs and led to a catastrophic breakdown in communal relations. Recently it has emerged the British SAS had a role in helping to deal with the insurgency, offering some advice to the Indian governmentof the time.

When Ms 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.

The insurgency was stamped out in the late 1980s.

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