Clashes between two rival groups were witnessed Friday inside the Golden Temple, the Sikh religion's holiest site, on the 30th anniversary of Operation Blue Star, which was conducted by the Indian government to stamp out a separatist revolution.
Several people were injured and taken to hospitals when clashes began after a local leader attempted to forcibly deliver a message to those gathered inside the temple, local reports said, and because troops are not allowed inside a religious site in the country, the temple's guards attempted to control a swordfight that had broken out between the two sides while more than 1,500 troops were deployed across the city outside.
“Today is very important day for us. But we are also sorry that today this incident happened. We condemn it. This should not have happened," Prem Singh Chandumajra, a member of Shiromani Akali Dal, a local political party, said according to Press Trust of India, adding that an inquiry would be conducted into the source of the violence.
Operation Blue Star was the culmination of efforts by the Indian government to wrest control of the Golden Temple from Sikh separatists who demanded to secede from India to form a separate nation. While official figures put the casualty count from the offensive at about 400 people and 87 soldiers, some Sikh groups have estimated that more than 1,000 people were killed in clashes between the Indian army and the armed separatists inside the shrine.
Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards in October 1984 in retaliation for ordering the operation, which in turn triggered race riots in the country and claimed the lives of more than 3,000 people.