Sword-wielding Sikhs clash at Golden Temple

NEW DELHI Fri Jun 6, 2014 2:46pm IST

1 of 3. Sikhs wield swords during their clash inside the complex of the holy Sikh shrine, the Golden Temple, in Amritsar June 6, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Munish Sharma

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NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Sikhs wielding swords clashed inside the compound of the Golden Temple in Amritsar on Friday, the 30th anniversary of a controversial raid by security forces that flushed out separatist militants holed up in the temple.

Television showed dramatic footage of Sikhs rushing out of their religion's holiest shrine brandishing their swords against each other in a violent confrontation in which several people were injured.

A police official said the clashes were triggered by a minor argument between temple employees and an unnamed fringe Sikh group when commemorating the victims of the 1984 temple raid.

Peace has since been restored, said the official, who declined to be named because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

"The violent clashes will be investigated and action will be taken against those who are accused," said Giani Gurbachan Singh, a leader of the elected body that manages Sikh temples.

Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards in 1984 over the army's storming of the temple to crush a Sikh militant movement that sought a separate homeland.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed in retaliatory riots against the Sikhs.

India has suffered an upsurge of violence in many forms since a general election last month won by Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

In the most heinous crime, two girls were raped and hanged in a village in Uttar Pradesh. Three men have been arrested over the killing, and two policemen suspected of helping to cover up the crime.

This week, a lynch mob in Pune killed a Muslim information technology worker. Seventeen men with links to a little-known radical Hindu group have been arrested over the killing, apparently provoked by a controversial Facebook post.

Modi, who was sworn in on May 26, has not commented on any of the episodes of violence.

(Reporting by Sruthi Gottipati; Editing by Douglas Busvine and Clarence Fernandez)

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