Perneet Singh, Tribune News Service
Amritsar, May 28. Twenty-eight years after Operation Bluestar spelt doom for their flourishing trade and left deep scars on their lives, businessmen having shops around the Golden Temple have finally heaved a sigh of relief as the Punjab and Haryana High Court recently ordered allotment of an alternative place for their rehabilitation. However, not all of them were lucky enough to see the day. Of the 133 shopkeepers who used to run their businesses from rented shops in three markets, over 40 have died.
While a few of them died after contracting different diseases during adverse circumstances prevailing after the tragedy, some others committed suicide in view of their deteriorating financial state. For instance, Rajinder Singh, who owned two shops of artificial jewellery in Shaheed Market, committed suicide by jumping into the ‘sarovar’ at the Golden Temple in 1993. His wife Manjeet Kaur then took to stitching to bring up her daughter and two sons – Surinder Singh and Jaswinder Singh who now frame photographs to earn a livelihood.
Traders Gurjit Singh Bhola and Subhash Kapoor said the HC had ordered allotment of two plots, one measuring 3.75 acres and the other of 2 acres, near Jain Temple on the GT Road. The government will also extend them aid in constructing the shops, each of which will measure around 27 square yards.
Asked whether all these traders were in a position to build their shops on the land allotted to them, they said half of them will not have much problem in constructing shops while the rest would have to arrange funds through bank loans and other means.A section of these traders are living in penury and barely manage to earn two square meals a day.
Physically challenged septuagenarian Daljeet Singh, who ran a wholesale shop of ‘kara’/’kangha’ before the Army operation in 1984, now moves on a tricycle in the narrow lanes of the walled city selling undergarments to eke out a livelihood.