The influential Akal Takht on Saturday said that the Sikh community is not averse to the idea of a separate state if there is an offer from the government as some hardliners raised pro-Khalistan slogans in the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar on the 36th anniversary of Operation Blue Star.
Around 100 activists led by Imaan Singh Mann, son of Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) president and former MP Simranjit Singh Mann, raised slogans at the Akal Takht -- the highest temporal seat of Sikhs.
Members of Sikh hardliner group Damdami Taksal along with Akal Takht Jathedar (head priest) Giani Harpreet Singh and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee officials honoured the families of those who were killed during Operation Blue Star, which was carried out in 1984 to flush out heavily-armed terrorists holed up in the Golden Temple.
Addressing the gathering, Giani Harpreet Singh said the Sikh community will always remember the unhealed wounds of Operation Blue Star.
Later while talking to the media, when asked if the demand for Khalistan was justified, the Jathedar said, "If we get it, then what else do we need? If the government of India offers us, then we will accept it."
"Which Sikh in the world does not want it?" Singh added.
Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee president Gobind Singh Longowal also endorsed the views of the jathedar and said if Khalistan is given to the community, it would be acceptable to Sikhs.
To a question on pro-Khalistan slogans raised at the Golden Temple complex, Harpreet Singh said, "There was nothing wrong in it. But they should have done it after the conclusion of the religious programme which was in progress at the Akal Takht."
'Parallel Jathedar' of Akal Takht Dhian Singh Mand, who entered the premises with the Mann-led group, also addressed the gathering.
The main programme to honour the families was organised by the Akal Takht. There was heavy barricading by police around all entry points to the Golden Temple.
Due to entry restrictions in view of the coronavirus pandemic, not more than 1,000 people gathered at the shrine.
Usually more than one lakh people visit the shrine on this day every year.
Earlier in the day, there was a minor scuffle between policemen and the group led by Maan as they were initially denied entry inside the Golden Temple. Maan sustained a foot injury during the scuffle.
Later, the group was allowed entry following intervention of senior police officers present on the spot.