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Mrs. Gandhi offers negotiations with Sikhs

Prime Minister Indira Gandhi of India offered Monday to open immediate negotiations with Sikh leaders as a strike here and in a state bordering Punjab shut many shops, the Press Trust of India reported.

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Mrs. Gandhi told Sikh leaders she hoped Punjab's militant Sikh party, the Akali Dal, would suspend its agitation for greater religious and political autonomy and start serious negotiations. She said direct central rule was imposed on Punjab last Thursday to prevent violence between Sikhs and minority Hindus there.

In Delhi, a strike called by the opposition Janata party was partially successful. It had been called to protest last week's killing of eight Hindus by Sikh extremists in Punjab.