Police and paramilitary forces ended an asssault on the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar early this morning, but all the Sikh militants they sought had escaped before the operation began.
Julio Ribeiro, director general of the Punjab police, who showed reporters around the temple complex this morning, said, "Our main objective was to flush out the terrorists and the criminals who had taken refuge in the complex and to hand it over to the Sikh Temple Management Commitee, its legal custodian." The committee was ousted when militants took over the temple complex, the holiest site in the Sikh religion, in January.
"In that, I have succeeded in achieving the objective," he said, according to a report by the United News of India.
One youth was killed and two were injured in the 13-hour-long raid on the complex. All five members of the committee that had declared an independent Sikh state of Khalistan Tuesday at the temple complex escaped before the attack began.
There has been tacit approval of the raid among many Sikhs and the call for a protest by the Sikh Students' Federation got little support, United News of India reported. Jagjit Singh Aurora, president of the Sikh Forum, congratulated Punjab's chief minister, Surjit Barnala Singh Barnala, "for the effective and expeditious measures to rid the complex of the extremists."
Soon after the operation, Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi called Barnala to congratulate him for the prompt action, the United News of India reported.
About 300 people were detained, but most are believed to be pilgrims and temple workers.
There have been reports of widespread arrests of suspected members of the Sikh Students' Federation from several parts of the state, although most have gone underground, news agencies reported.
Gurdev Singh, proclaimed head priest by the extremists who took over the temple complex in January, was the only militant leader arrested, agencies reported.