India: Warriors in the Temple

Sikhs and Hindus engage in frenzied clashes

In normal circumstances, entering the Golden Temple at Amritsar, Punjab, the holiest of Sikh shrines, is a serene and majestic experience. Over the past few weeks, however, the temple has become a formidable fortress. Religious symbols mix with modern rifle muzzles, automatic weapons, swords and battle-axes. Even women are armed, and some children as young as five have daggers hanging from their belts. The Sikhs, a sect of 12 million that broke with Hinduism at the end of the 15th century, are known equally for being charitable hosts and aggressive warriors. Today they seem...

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