Violent clashes broke out between two Sikh groups inside the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar today, the 30th anniversary of Operation Bluestar to flush out militants in 1984.
Amritsar Police detained at least eight persons over the clash between task force volunteers of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and radical Sikh activists still fighting for the lost cause of an independent 'Khalistan'.
Trouble reportedly started after members of the Shiromani Akali Dal-controlled SGPC protested Shriomani Akali Dal (Amritsar) leader Simranjit Singh Mann's attempt to give a speech from the rostrum of the Akal Takht.
This infuriated Mann supporters, with one of them trying to snatch the microphone from the Jathedar of Akal Thakt, Giani Gurbachan Singh.
The SGPC-run Golden Temple Task Force swung into action immediately against Mann supporters. Soon it was a free for all, with both sides reacting violently with swords, kirpans (traditional Sikh knives) and lathis. At least six people were injured.
The task force members forced Mann supporters out but they regrouped and attacked again. Members of the media were also targeted.
The Akal Takht is one of the five seats of power of the Sikh religion. It is located in the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) complex.
Giani Gurbachan Singh later said, ''Deliberate attempts were made to start violence, perpetrators will be punished. People are injured in clashes,some outside agents came in, started violence.''
The situation is reported to be tense in parts of Amritsar, with many shops downing shutters. After radical Sikh outfit Dal Khalsa's call for the shutdown, at least 70 per cent of the city's commercial outlets were closed.
Dal Khalsa spokesman Kanwarpal Singh and 50 supporters were detained outside the Golden Temple. Anti-riot Police from Bhatinda and Jalandhar have been rushed to Amritsar and patrolling outside Golden Temple intensified to prevent further trouble.
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) is a splinter group of the SAD, led by Simranjit Singh Mann which advocates formation of Khalistan, an independent state for the Sikhs through democratic process.
Following the clashes, Simranjeet Singh Mann said, ''Khalistan is the only solution, it's in the interest of all communities.''
"Everyone has heard that the Sikh community has just one demand - Khalistan. It would be a buffer state between, Pakistan, China and India, all three of which are lanced with nuclear power. Hindus, Muslims, Christians and Sikhs would feel safe in this Sikh nation and peace would prevail forever in South Asia. Khalistan is in favor of all the nations and religions."