SGPC taskforce evicts Mann and his supporters

Swords were brandished, lathis swung, turbans tossed and blood was splattered on the marbled floor of the holiest shrine of the Sikhs, the Harmandar Sahib (Golden Temple), at Amritsar on Friday. Members of a radical group, led by former MP Simranjit Singh Mann, clashed with the task force deployed by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee causing injuries to at least seven people.

The clashes broke out when some supporters of Mr. Mann raised pro-Khalistan slogans and disturbed the jathedar of the Akal Takht, Giani Gurbachan Singh, who was delivering his message on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Operation Blue Star.

Mr. Mann was prevented from addressing the devotees from the rostrum of Akal Takht. He, however, arranged for a portable megaphone and shouted his demand for a separate homeland for the Sikhs. He also targeted the leadership of the ruling Akali Dal for aligning with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh to sabotage the Sikh cause. This led to a clash between the two groups after which the SGPC taskforce evicted Mr. Mann and his supporters from the shrine.

The melee, however, resumed after Mr. Mann left the shrine, and for the next one and a half hours it was a free for all. Members of rival groups chased each other and beat up whoever they could corner. Terrified devotees scrambled to exit the shrine. Journalists, especially those from the television channels, and photographers became the targets of menacing members of both sides. Though security personnel, including the rapid action force, were deployed outside the shrine they did not go inside as they did not have the orders. The situation came under control only after the Akal Takht Jathedar appeared again on the ramparts and appealed for calm. Political parties have demanded strict action against the perpetrators of the violence inside the Golden Temple.