PM prays at Golden Temple, faces black flags

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur were shown black flags when the duo visited the Golden Temple here on the occasion of new year.

Zeenews Bureau

Amritsar: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur were on Sunday shown black flags allegedly by supporters of anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare when the duo visited the Golden Temple here on the occasion of new year.

Around 30-35 protesters including women, raised slogans against corruption and in favour of Lokpal as soon as Singh and his wife came out after paying obeisance at the Golden Temple.

The protest caught the security agencies completely off guard.

Though none of the protesters could reach anywhere near the Prime Minister, they were able to register their symbolic protest as they shouted pro-Anna Hazare and pro-Jan Lokpal Bill slogans.

The supporters also raised slogans asking the PM to go back (PM wapas jao), while showing small black flags.

The government failed to get the Lokpal Bill passed in the Rajya Sabha on December 30 after opposition from parties, including ally Trinamool Congress.

PM Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur reached the shrine complex around 6.30 am and went around the `parikarma` of the sacred pond before entering the sanctum sanctorum. Wearing a white kurta-pyjama and a dark grey jacket, the Prime Minister offered prayers along with his wife. He later sat down in an enclosure inside the sanctum sanctorum to listen to hymns.

Of the over one hour that he was inside the shrine complex, the Prime Minister spent nearly 45 minutes listening to mellifluous prayers and hyms with his eyes shut.

He and his wife were presented a `siropa` (robe of honour) by the `granthi` (priest) of the shrine.

Thousands of devotees were present at the shrine complex when the PM arrived amid tight security.

He and his wife later paid obeisance at the Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of Sikh religion, inside the shrine complex. He was escorted by Special Protection Group (SPG) personnel and scores of `sewadars` (volunteers) of the shrine.

The PM had arrived here on Saturday evening from New Delhi. He stayed overnight at the government Circuit House.

The visit was a "private one", a police officer said.

The Prime Minister, who lived and studied in Amritsar after his family migrated here from Rawalpindi after partition, also has some relatives who are settled here.

Meanwhile, Team Anna has denied involvement of its members in showing black flags to PM and said it was the people`s own reaction.

"I don`t think it was done at the behest of Team Anna but it is reflection of what people feel and think," Team Anna member Shazia Ilmi said.
(With agency inputs)

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