Divergent views on building structure, handing of ‘kar sewa’ to Damdami Taksal; stone laying ceremony today
Perneet Singh, Tribune News Service
Amritsar, May 19. Even as the stage is set for the foundation stone laying ceremony of Operation Bluestar Memorial here tomorrow, the issue seems to have divided radical Sikh outfits and Panthic organisations.
A section of radical and Panthic groups are supporting the Damdami Taksal, which has been entrusted by the SGPC with the task of raising the memorial. These groups include Khalsa Action Committee, Dal Khalsa, Panthak Sewa Lehar and SAD (Panch Pardhani).
Dal Khalsa chief H S Dhami said, “We support handing of ‘kar sewa’ to Damdami Taksal. Though the leadership of Taksal has changed with the times and with it the perception has also changed, still we are in favour of friendly relations with its present leadership to address Panthic issues.” He said they fairly give credit to Baba Harnam Singh for “preparing and prevailing upon the SAD leadership and the SGPC to decide in favour of the memorial; otherwise, left to Badals, the project would not have seen the light of the day”.
On the other hand, SAD (Amritsar) president Simranjeet Singh Mann opposed the SGPC move to hand over the “kar sewa” to Damdami Taksal while stating that the responsibility should have been given to a “neutral group”. He said the onus of constructing the memorial should have been given to an outfit or an individual who had nothing to do with the government.
He said the Sikhs should reject this move as they had done when the government had handed over “kar sewa” of the Akal Takht to Baba Santa Singh in 1984.
SAD (1920) senior vice-president Raghubir Singh Rajasansi also demanded that the “kar sewa” of the memorial should have been given to a “non-controversial personality”. He alleged that Taksal chief Baba Harnam Singh had been assigned the job by the SGPC at the behest of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. He said they will not approve the “government-sponsored” “kar sewa”.
Ram Singh, who heads the rival faction of Damdami Taksal, said, “Baba Harnam Singh is neither an architect nor he has constructed any gurdwara or memorial. He said a meeting of all Sikh outfits should have been called and “kar sewa” handed over to someone known for his work in this field. Akhand Kirtani Jatha chief Bhai Bakhshish Singh said the SGPC prepared the blueprint of the memorial and gave its “kar sewa” to Taksal “under the influence of a political party”. Apart from the issue of “kar sewa”, there are also differences among the Panthic groups regarding the form and the design of the memorial.
Meanwhile, political observers here feel that the SAD leadership was under obligation to give “kar sewa” to Damdami Taksal as the latter had openly supported the SAD during the SGPC polls and also the state Assembly elections.
Memorial to be octagonal
SGPC Chief Avtar Singh Makkar has said the memorial building will be octagonal in shape with an area of 31.5 X 31.5 ft and its height will be 18-ft
It has been ensured that the memorial’s area is less than that of the sanctum sanctorum at the Golden Temple (41-ft X 41-ft)
The memorial’s height will be less than the adjoining Gurdwara Thara Sahib and the verandah of the building will be kept intact