Arrest toll hits 4,200 as roundup of Sikhs continues in Punjab

Globe and Mail
June 21, 1984

NEW DELHI (Reuter) — The Indian Army arrested 156 more Sikhs in Punjab state yesterday, raising the toll to 4,200 since the assault on the Golden Temple in the holy city of Amritsar two weeks ago.

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared, meanwhile, that her troops would remain in the temple until all arms there were removed.

Maj. Gen. R. K. Gaur, spokesman for the army operation in Punjab, said interrogation of about half the 4,200 arrested had ended and those found not guilty would be released soon.

The roundup was part of a hunt for about 100 extremists still at large after troops stormed the temple two weeks ago.

The Press Trust of India news agency quoted Mrs Gandhi as telling a delegation from a citizen's welfare group that reconciliation, not blame, is needed.

"Everyone should feel he is in the national mainstream," PTI quoted Mrs. Gandhi. However, she dismissed speculation about a quick withdrawal of troops from Amritsar's Golden Temple, the holiest Sikh shrine. The army could leave only when weapons there had been found and removed, she said.

Mrs. Gandhi ordered the army into Punjab state on June 2. Nearly 1,000 people were killed when security forces stormed the temple complex four days later.

Security forces recovered large quantities of arms and ammunition, including light machineguns and grenades.

PTI said the Indian Supreme Court yesterday directed two of its officials to meet detained Sikh leader Harchand Singh Longowal, head of the Sikhs' Akali Dal political party.

Meanwhile, an External Affairs Ministry spokesman said the government had terminated the services of India's charge d'affaires in Oslo, Harinder Singh, who told reporters on Tuesday that he was resigning to protest against the attack on the Golden Temple

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