As the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) gears up for the June 12 foundation-laying of a '1984 Sikh genocide memorial' inside Gurdwara Rakabganj Sahib complex in the heart of the national capital, the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) on Friday served a notice on the DSGMC, cautioning it against any "illegal structure" in the complex.
On Friday, the NDMC notice was found pasted on the main gate of the gurdwara complex, which at present has a brick platform around four feet high that would be unveiled as part of the stone- laying ceremony by the five Sikh high priests.
"Construction of illegal platform approx 2 feet by 3 feet and 4 feet height in open ground: You are hereby required to show cause within 2 days of the receipt of the notice as to why order for stoppage of unauthorised constriction be not made," says the NDMC order, adding that in case the DSGMC fails to comply, an order for stoppage of illegal construction shall be made immediately.
Top leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal-Badal - which wrested control of the DGSMC from the Paramajit Singh Sarna-led SAD-Delhi after a decade in polls held earlier this year - are scheduled to attend the June 12 ceremony. SAD-B patron and Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal, party president and Punjab deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal, BJP national president Rajnath Singh, Lok Sabha leader of opposition Sushma Swaraj and CPM leader Brinda karat have already confirmed their presence.
In the face of the notice, DSGMC president Manjit Singh GK remained defiant. He told HT over phone, "Nothing illegal is being done, and the construction of the memorial will not stop."
Strangely, NDMC director OP Mishra denied that any notice had been sent, even though DSGMC office-bearers have met him over the issue. "We have conveyed to the NDMC that we will demolish about 15,000 square feet of the present building and construct a new structure with 10,000 square feet covered area. When we built a serai (guesthouse), the NDMC had raised no objection," said DSGMC general secretary Manjinder Singh Sirsa, stressing that no government agency should involve itself in Sikh issues.
"The perpetrators of the genocide of Sikhs in 1984, including Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler, were elevated to the posts of ministers. Government stalled justice for the victims, and is now creating hurdles in the way of a peaceful attempt by the DSGMC to constrict a memorial on the land which belongs to the community," said Manjit Singh, who also met senior officials of the Delhi Police over the matter. "The memorial is not to hurt anyone, but is actually to be a symbol of peace, humanity and compassion."
In November last year, an attempt to dedicate a park in Punjabi Bagh area to the victims of the 1984 riots was stalled by the Sheila Dikshit-led Congress government. The riots memorial plan had gathered steam after Congress leader Sajjan Kumar was acquitted on April 30 in one of the riots cases.