The narrow lane leading to the Garodia Nagar ground in Ghatkopar on Thursday was lined with hawkers selling Sikh articles of faith such as kirpan and kada. But, there were also turbaned men holding posters that demanded justice for the 1984 riots.
Just inside the ground, the makeshift pandal led to a kirtan durbar, where raagis recited the Gurbani. On the community’s holiest festival, Gurpurab, prayers to Guru Nanak and protests against the government marked the day.
“These are peaceful protests. There has been no agitation or violence since morning,” said Manmohan Singh, general secretary of Shri Guru Singh Sabha, the central community body for Sikhs in the city that had organised the celebrations.
“This is a manifestation of the youth’s feelings. This year marks the 30th anniversary of the horrific events, and they are just expressing themselves,” Singh said, adding that a change in the government at the Centre had given the community renewed hope.
Amreek Singh, a businessman, who was holding a placard that read ‘30 years of injustice from June 6, 1984, to 2014; we now want justice’ in Hindi, said, “We do not belong to any organisation. We are just regular people who want to be heard within and outside the community, and ask the government to take some action.”
Meanwhile, the ground was packed as community members flocked to the venue from all over the city for celebrating the 546th birth anniversary of Guru Nanak. Raagis from Amritsar’s Golden Temple had specially flown in for conducting kirtan and katha.
Health camps and stalls, selling holy books and T-shirts, were set up. Langar, or free community kitchen, serving daal, vegetables, rice, chapatis and kheer, was a special attraction and hosted a whopping 1 lakh people, according to Singh.