Golden Temple closed 1 day after reopening

Globe and Mail
June 27, 1984

NEW DELHI (AP) — Indian authorities abruptly closed the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Punjab state, yesterday, a day after the Sikh shrine was reopened for the first time since army troops stormed the temple compound three weeks ago.

The reason for the closing was not announced, but officials may have feared they could not control crowds trying to enter the shrine.

The gates to the temple were shut after 300 pilgrims were allowed inside, the United News of India news agency reported. Officials turning back hundreds of others said they were trying "to maintain law and order."

It was not known whether the temple would be opened today.

On Monday, 10,000 pilgrims flocked to the white marble and burnished copper temple, forming long lines at the gates. No violence was reported, but witnesses said many pilgrims were highly agitated over what they considered desecration of the shrine. Some cursed the presence of troops and vowed to seek revenge.

The army stormed the temple compound on June 6 to attack Sikh extremists accused of waging a terror campaign for Sikh autonomy in Punjab state. The Government says 492 Sikh militants and 92 sol­diers were killed in the battle, but police and military sources in Amritsar place the toll at about 1,000 Sikhs and 220 troops.

Army troops remain inside the compound. On Monday, officials said the temple would be open daily for three hours in the morning, from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.

Many of the pilgrims who streamed through the temple on Monday were weeping over the assault and crying "Let the army go" and "We want revenge." Some picked up charred scraps of holy Sikh manuscripts, kissed them and kept them as relics, said Sikh pilgrims who toured the battered complex.

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