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Two groups clashed inside the Golden Temple premises for close to half an hour this morning leaving at least 12 persons injured, even as the temple city observed a bandh to mark the 30th anniversary of Operation Bluestar.
Brandishing swords, spears and sticks, video footages showed people clashing and chasing each other outside the Akal Takht building inside the complex. Some others were seen running for cover.
The situation took an ugly turn when one of the Akali Dal factions led by former IPS officer Simranjeet Singh Mann along with his supporters tried to raise pro-Khalistani slogans from the rostrum of Akal Takht, Amritsar Police Commissioner Jatinder Singh Aulakh said.
Mann was prevented from delivering his speech during a ceremony organised to mark the 30th anniversary of Operation Bluestar following which a clash broke out between activists of his group Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) and guards of Shiromani Gurudwara Parbhandhak Committee (SGPC), he said, adding that swords were used in the violence which left five members of SGPC task force injured.
Police personnel are not permitted inside the Golden temple premises where security and other issues are under the control of the task force, Aulakh said.
"The situation has been defused and things are under total control," he said.
When contacted Jathedar of Akal Takht Giani Gurbachan Singh said the the incident is being investigated.
"Preliminary reports suggest that some unscrupulous elements were responsible for it," he said.
There was no disruption of worship at the Golden Temple, an official said.
Mann accused the SGPC and the ruling Akali Dal government in Punjab of not addressing the issues faced by the Sikh community and also targeting groups seeking resolution of these problems.
The anniversary of Operation Bluestar was observed at Akal Takht at the marbled periphery of Harmandhar Sahib popularly known as Golden Temple.
In June, 1984, more than 1,000 people were killed in Operation Bluestar, the raid on Sikhism's holiest shrine to flush out Sikh extremists led by Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale from the Golden Temple. Bhindrawal and his associates were killed in the operation.
Five months later, in retaliation, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards at her residence.
During the day, Mann's supporters raised pro-Khalistan slogans. The trouble started when the Akal Takht head was addressing the gathering and Mann tried to stop him. During the melee, many panic-striken devotees ran for safety.
Meanwhile, 1,500 personnel of anti-riot police were deployed in several places in Amritsar in