Black flags, swords raised inside Golden Temple complex

Amritsar, Nov 11 (IANS) Tension prevailed as black flags were shown and swords were brandished inside the Golden Temple complex on Wednesday by radical Sikh elements who were opposing the Akal Takht jathedar (chief) Gurbachan Singh issuing his Diwali message for the Sikh community.

In a related incident at the same venue, radical Sikh leader Dhian Singh Mand, who was appointed interim jathedar of the Akal Takht by an unofficial ‘Sarbat Khalsa’ (grand assembly of Sikhs) on Tuesday, managed to reach the area in front of the Akal Takht and delivered his address to the Sikh community.

Mand, in his address, called upon the community to socially boycott Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Scores of policemen in plain clothes remained present inside the shrine complex, which is home to the holiest of Sikh shrines Harmandar Sahib, but were unable to prevent Mand and his hardline supporters from reaching near the Akal Takht.

Hundreds of Sikhs, mostly hardliners, were present near the Akal Takht, located just about 100 feet from the sanctum sanctorum, when the black flags were waived.

However, no clash was reported from inside the complex.

In an late night swoop on Tuesday, Punjab Police arrested radical Sikh leaders from in and around Amritsar to prevent a religious showdown at the Golden Temple complex.

Those arrested included radical leader Mokham Singh, separatist leader and former IPS officer Simranjit Singh Mann and Amrik Singh Ajnala.

While Mokham Singh and Mann were taken to a police station here, Ajnala was put under house arrest.

The arrests came within hours of a ‘Sarbat Khalsa’ congregation at Chaba near Amritsar on Tuesday in which controversial decisions, including the sacking of jathedars (chiefs) of three takhts (temporal seats) of Sikh religion, were taken and convicted Khalistani terrorist Jagtar Singh Hawara was named as the Akal Takht chief.

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