The foundation stone of the 1984 Sikh genocide memorial being built at Gurdwara Rakabganj Sahib Complex was laid on Wednesday.
A petition challenging the construction of the memorial on the gurdwara premises was also listed for hearing in the Delhi high court but the foundation stone was laid before the case came up for hearing.
Before the foundation stone was to be laid, there was tension at the site. A large number of Sikhs carrying swords guarded the site and the movement of every person was closely watched.
Former Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) chief Paramjit Singh Sarna had moved the Delhi high court against the building of the memorial on the gurdwara premises.
The foundation stone was laid by Takht Shri Damdama Sahib Jathedar Giani Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh and Takht Shri Keshgarh Sahib Jathedar Giani Tarlochan Singh.
Shiromani Akali Dal president and Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, his MP wife Harsimrat Kaur, DSGMC president Manjit Singh GK and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) chief Avtar Singh Makkar were present on the occasion.
The ceremony coincided with the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev. A large number of Sikhs gathered at the site.
In the afternoon, the Delhi high court refused to entertain the petition filed by Paramjit Singh Sarna saying the foundation stone was in violation of the civic body norms. Another petition seeking a stay on laying of the foundation stone was also rejected by the court.
Before the elections to the DSGMC in January this year, building of the memorial was part of the election manifesto of the SAD. "We have fulfilled our promise," said Sukhbir.
Later, addressing reporters, Sukhbir said justice was denied to the families of the innocent Sikhs killed in the 1984 riots for the past 29 years and now the Congress-led government in Delhi was trying to stall the construction of the memorial.
"Wasn't killing of innocent Sikhs illegal?" he asked when told by the media that the New Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) had served notice on the DSGMC, calling the construction of the memorial as illegal.
BJP president Rajnath Singh, leader of opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, Rajya Sabha MP Naresh Gujral, BJP's Delhi unit president Vijay Goyal, former chairman of minorities commission Tarlochan Singh and DSGMC general secretary Manjinder Singh Sirsa were also present.
Speaking on the occasion, GK said the memorial would remind the generations about the unjustice done to the Sikh community. Speaking about the memorial, GK said they had not resorted to any illegality and the DSGMC would take permission from the NDMC before starting construction of the memorial.
Parties' own issues
"Every party has the right to have a different opinion over a different issue. There is no controversy concerning the 1984 Sikh genocide memorial being built at Gurdwara Rakabganj Sahib Complex," Delhi BJP unit president Vijay Goyal said while reacting to media queries that the BJP is opposed to the Bluestar memorial in the Golden Temple in Amritsar and favours the memorial at Gurdwara Rakabganj Sahib Complex.