The process for erecting a memorial to those who died while fighting the security forces during Operation Bluestar in June 1984 commenced at the Golden Temple Complex in Amristar on Friday.
The process began with the start of the akhand paath at the shrine, followed by marking of the spot where the memorial is to be built. The spot is to the right of the Akal Takht (while facing the Takht building) and in the verandah near the two Nishan Sahibs in the ‘parikrama’.
To mark the symbolic beginning of the ‘kar sewa’ for the memorial, the members of the Damdami Taksal dug out the marble slabs at the spot in the presence of its head Baba Harnam Singh Dhuma. The spot was marked with ropes so that devotees do not step on it when the construction commences.
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) entrusted Baba Dhuma with the task of building the memorial through ‘kar sewa’. The SGPC had given its approval for setting up the memorial and chosen Baba Dhuma for the task at its executive meeting held at Anandpur Sahib on May 3.
The ‘bhog’ of the ‘akhand paath’ will be performed on May 20 after which the formal launch of the ‘kar sewa’ will take place.
SGPC executive member Rajinder Singh Mehta was present when members of the Taksal ‘earmarked’ the spot with the help of ropes.
The SGPC gave its approval after its executive on May 3 accepted the report of the five-member sub-committee formed for the purpose in June last year.
The sub-committee comprised Punjabi University vice-chancellor Jaspal Singh, former pro-V-C Prithpal Singh Kapur, Damdami Taksal head Baba Harnam Singh Dhuma, SGPC senior vice-president Raghujit Singh Virk and SGPC executive member Rajinder Singh Mehta. The decision to construct the memorial was taken by the executive on July 20, 2002, but the sub-committee was formed only last year after the radical groups put pressure on the SGPC and even threatened to go ahead with the memorial if the religious body “did not honour its commitment made to the Sikh community”.
Four ‘Panthic’ radical groups had gone ahead and constituted a ‘Saka Darbar Sahib’ panel, comprising Sikh historians and intellectuals, to suggest the space and shape of the memorial. The panel submitted its final report to the SGPC last month.
These groups comprised the Dal Khalsa, Khalsa Action Committee headed by Bhai Mohkam Singh, Panthic Sewa Lehar headed by Baba Baljit Singh Daduwal and the Shiromani Akali Dal (Panch Pardhani).
The executive had accepted the suggestion of the sub-committee that the site of the memorial should be near the Akal Takht, which was damaged during the 1984 operation launched to flush out armed militants under the leadership of the then Taksal chief Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale from the shrine.
The chosen spot for the memorial is believed to be the place from where the body of Bhindrawale was found by the security forces after the 1984 operation ended.