Perneet Singh, Tribune News Service
Amritsar, June 6. The Sikh high priests today bestowed the title of ‘Zinda Shaheed’ (living martyr) on Balwant Singh Rajoana, convicted for the assassination of former Chief Minister Beant Singh, on the occasion of the 28th anniversary of Operation Bluestar at the Akal Takht here.
The clergy led by Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh presented a plaque, a shawl, a ‘siropa’ and a sword to Bibi Kamaldeep Kaur, Rajoana’s sister, who received the title on his behalf. However, the title was not conferred in the main ceremony, but a couple of hours before it.
Similarly, in an apparent bid to avoid confrontation with “disgruntled” radical groups, the Sikh clergy and SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar laid the foundation stone of the Operation Bluestar Memorial in the basement adjoining Gurdwara Thara Sahib in the Golden Temple Complex much before the main programme.
The development took many by surprise since the SGPC had on May 20 held a special ceremony for the launch of ‘kar sewa’ of the memorial. In his address, Giani Gurbachan Singh said the memorial would inspire generations of Sikhs. He also felicitated relatives of those killed in the Army operation. Among them were Isher Singh, son of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, Gurmeet Kaur, wife of Bhai Amrik Singh, and Bibi Pyar Kaur, mother of Indira Gandhi’s assassin Satwant Singh.
Later, replying to a media query regarding former CM Captain Amarinder Singh’s opposition to the memorial, Makkar said, “He should not question construction of the memorial. But if he intends to, then he must first explain why he quit the Congress after the Army operation at the Golden Temple in 1984.” The Captain’s mindset has changed after he joined the Congress, he said.
Radical Sikh outfit Dal Khalsa leader Kanwar Pal Singh also wondered how the memorial would disturb peace in the state. “The Congress had attacked the Golden Temple and, therefore, the Captain’s criticism is neither strange nor relevant,” he added.
Differences among Sikh groups over the Operation Bluestar Memorial came to the fore today. SAD (Amritsar) president Simranjeet Singh Mann led the opposition and lashed out at the SGPC for handing over ‘kar sewa’ of the memorial to Damdami Taksal Chief Baba Harnam Singh Khalsa.
Addressing a gathering in front of the Akal Takht, he said the Damdami Taksal was no longer the same organisation once led by Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. “The Taksal today is openly conniving with the RSS, the BJP and its agent, the SAD,” he alleged.