June 6, 2000, AMRITSAR, India (AP) - Four human rights activists were among 20 people detained by police outside Sikhism's holiest shrine Tuesday when they tried to enter with pictures of separatist leaders and placards bearing anti-government slogans.

Police said they were afraid the group would try to stir up violence during a prayer service being held inside the Golden Temple early Tuesday in memory of those killed during the military's storming of the shrine in 1984.

Battle tanks broke into the temple's marbled complex on June 6, 1984, and soldiers were involved in bloody gunbattles with armed Sikh separatists holed up in the complex. The insurgency that began in 1980 was largely quashed by the early 1990s.

Inside the temple complex, plainclothes policemen mingled with devotees and relatives of the people killed in Operation Blue Star, as the army action was called. Outside, police frisked the devotees as they entered the temple's huge gates.

Armed police guarded the paths leading up to the temple located in the northern Indian city of Amritsar.

The prayer meeting, held to coincide with the 16th anniversary of the storming of the temple, passed peacefully.

Giani Joginder Singh Vidhanti, the head priest of the Golden Temple, conducted the prayer service and honored the dead separatists as martyrs.

"The martyrs of 1984 have made the community proud and have continued the Sikh tradition of sacrifices," he said.

more from beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad