Assassin's Widow Charged With Murder After Rioting In Golden TempleBRAHMA CHELLANEY , Associated Press
Jun. 5, 1986 11:08 AM ET
AMRITSAR, INDIA AMRITSAR, India (AP) _ Police today charged the widow of one of Indira Gandhi's assassins with murder for leading Sikh militants on a rampage through the Golden Temple in which a guard was stabbed to death.
Bimal Kaur Khalsa, 35-year-old widow of Beant Singh, was charged with murder, criminal assault and participating in a terrorist attack, said H.K.S. Kahlon, the Punjab state police superintendent.
About 200 Sikh militants armed with iron bars, swords and bamboo staves stormed the temple Wednesday after a ''Martyrs' Day'' rally marking the second anniversary of the Indian army assault on the white-marble complex, the holiest Sikh shrine.
Kahlon said 307 people were arrested.
Of those detained, 101 people, including Mrs. Khalsa, were charged with murder, criminal assault and participating in a terrorist attack. Another 55 were charged with terrorism and rioting. Twenty people were jailed under preventive detention, said Kahlon. He said police still were screening detainees and filing charges.
Mrs. Khalsa was not among those detained, and Punjab security forces today searched 60 villages in Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts, both strongholds of Sikh rebels, looking for her.
Eyewitnesses said the guard slain in Wedesday's violence was a volunteer without a gun who tried to escape but was attacked by the mob and stabbed in the back with a three-foot sword. They said Mrs. Khalsa, a member of a radical women's ''commando force,'' had tried to grab his sword.
About a dozen journalists witnessed the guard's death.
Mrs. Khalsa, an English-speaking New Delhi nurse who is very popular among Sikh peasants, narrowly was defeated in a state assembly election last September.
Her husband was killed by commandos at the scene of the Gandhi assassination Oct. 31, 1984. Another Sikh guard, Satwant Singh, was convicted of murder and conspiracy and sentenced to death. He has appealed the sentence.
Mrs. Khalsa was an honored guest at the ''Martyrs Day'' rally which drew about 5,000 people Wednesday. The gathering commemorated the army raid on the shrine June 4-7, 1984. An estimated 1,000 Sikhs and 200 soldiers were killed. Militant Sikhs had declared this week ''Genocide Week'' in commemoration of the raid.
Several speakers at the rally called for the death of Punjab's moderate chief minister, Surjit Singh Barnala, and the crowd shouted for Khalistan, which means ''land of the pure'' in Punjabi.
On April 30, Barnala had ordered a raid on the temple to flush out Sikh radicals who had declared a separate nation. Police in India usually do not enter places of worship.
During the rally, about 3,000 police and paramilitary officers were deployed around the temple complex and along the highways leading to it.
Punjab has been the center of an ongoing Sikh agitation for greater political and religious autonomy. Sikh militants, however, are demanding a separate state.
More than 4,500 people have been killed in Punjab-related violence in the last four years. More than 80 people, mostly Hindus, were killed last month in Punjab by Sikh separatists.
India has 13 million Sikhs, about 2 percent of the population, but they are a majority in Punjab, a state of 18 million people.