Bowing before the oft repeated demand of radical Sikh groups, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandik Committee (SGPC) has agreed to set up a memorial to the memory of those who perished during 'Operation Bluestar', launched by the army in June 1984 to flush out armed militants, led by the then Damdami Taksal head Jarnail Singh Bhinderwale, from the Golden Temple complex.
This announcement was made by SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar in Amritsar on Monday while addressing a gathering at the Akal Takht on the occasion of 27th anniversary of the army operation, while paying tribute to the 'martyrs' who died in the army action.
In doing so he also honored the decision taken by the SGPC executive in the past.
He announced that a 5-member committee would be constituted in the next two days to decide on the shape and location of the 'martyrs memorial'. This committee will be free to consult experts and take the opinion of different Sikh religious organizations while deciding about the memorial.
"The committee will submit its report within two months of its constitution", Makkar announced.
Welcoming the announcement, the Khalsa Action Committee (KAC) and Dal Khalsa in a joint statement said, "Though the step is belated but nevertheless it is welcome as our long standing demand has been considered. We will wait for the submission of the report and if it is not done within the time frame, we will take the Sikh 'sangat' into confidence and start construction of the memorial".
Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh in his address paid tribute to the 'martyrs' and said that the wounds of 1984 had not yet healed. The Sikh youth continue to languish in jails and no efforts are being made by the government to free them, he added.
He called upon all Sikh religious organisations and the 'sangat' to make efforts for the release of all Sikh youths who were imprisoned since the days of militancy.
He also appreciated the efforts of the SGPC in beginning a signature campaign from the village level for 'saving' Khalistan Liberation Force (KLF) activist Devinderpal Singh Bhullar whose mercy petition in a 1993 bomb explosion case was rejected by the President last month.
The function passed of peaceful except for the shouting of some anti-national slogans by Akali Dal (Amritsar) chief Simranjit Singh Mann and his handful of supporters.
After the 'bhog' ceremony in memory of the 'martyrs', the Jathedar honored the relatives of Bhinderwale, Bhai Amrik Singh, Baba Thara Singh and Shahbeg Singh, all of whom were killed in the army operation.
To the demand of certain sections to declare the four as 'Panth Ratan', the Jathedar said, "The status of a 'martyrs' of the 'quam' is higher than any other title".
A blood donation was also organised by Akal Purak Ki Fauj outside the shrine and other places in the city.