The assassins of former prime minister Indira Gandhi were hailed as “martyrs of the Sikh Panth” and their families honoured at a function attended by Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leaders in the national capital on Sunday.
The Sikh Students’ Federation organised a ‘bhog’ in the memory of Indira’s killers Kehar Singh, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh besides an ‘akhand paath’ at Moti Bagh Gurdwara here.
Head granthis (priests) of the gurdwara later presented ‘siropas’ (robe of honour) to Kehar Singh’s widow who lives in Delhi.
Among those present were former Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) chief Avtar Singh Hit, DSGMC Dharam Prachar committee chairman Paramjit Singh and Sikh Students Federation president Gurmeet Singh.
Both Hit and Paramjit are Akali leaders. Hit was Punjab State Industries Development Corporation (PSIDC) chairman till 2014 when he quit the post to contest from the Hari Nagar assembly segment in New Delhi on BJP symbol.
“The Akal Takht, which is the highest temporal seat of Sikhs, has already declared Beant, Satwant and Kehar Singh as ‘shaheeds’ (martyrs) and we are only commemorating their death anniversary,” Gurmeet Singh said.
Parminder Pal Singh, spokesperson of SAD’s Delhi unit, said, “The speakers at the bhog ceremony hailed the three for their supreme sacrifice for the Sikh panth. People are of the opinion that if Nathuram Godse’s anniversary can be celebrated by Hindu Mahasabha, why Sikhs cannot mark the death anniversary of the three.”
When contacted, DSGMC president Manjit Singh GK, who was not present at the function, said, “They were not criminals or terrorists. It is the natural right of a person that his last rites are performed as per his religious beliefs.”
He said though the court sentenced them to death, the Sikh community is still awaiting justice for the 1984 anti-Sikh riots that followed Indira Gandhi’s assassination.
The SAD is part of the ruling alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party in Punjab. The BJP has in the past objected to Gandhi’s killers being honoured.
Both Satwant Singh and co-conspirator Kehar Singh were hanged on January 6 1989. Beant Singh was shot dead soon after Indira’s assassination on October 31.
(With HT inputs)