Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh on Thursday defended the construction of the Operation Bluestar memorial in the Golden Temple complex, saying that “Sikhs have the right to give their martyrs a place of honour in their shrines.”
He was commenting on the statement of Congress MP from Ludhiana Ravneet Singh Bittu, who had mentioned in the Lok Sabha that photographs of terrorists had been displayed in the memorial.
In a statement issued here on Thursday, the jathedar said, “Every community has the right to honour its martyrs. Those who sacrificed their lives while defending the Golden Temple (during Operation Bluestar) are our martyrs.”
He said Sikhs who had died while defending Harmandar Sahib had always been held in high esteem.
Meanwhile, talking to mediapersons in Rupnagar on Thursday, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Avtar Singh Makkar demanded an apology from Ravneet Bittu over his remark in the Lok Sabha.
Makkar said, “Bittu should visit the shrine to see that the photos of those martyrs have been installed in the museum, not in Harmandar Sahib. Their martyrdom was recognised by the Akal Takht.
“The persons called terrorists by Bittu are martyrs for us as they made sacrifices for the cause of Sikhism and while fighting oppression,” Makkar said.
About the SGPC’s decision to built a library in memory of Air India plane hijacker Gurbax Singh, Makkar said Gurbax had fought a battle for allowing Sikhs to carry the kirpan on planes.
About the controversy regarding the Nanakshahi calendar, the SGPC chief said the issue would be resolved soon.
On the withdrawal of security to Takht Damdama Sahib jathedar Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Makkar said he had no knowledge of the matter.
Earlier, the SGPC president addressed a religious congregation on the occasion of Shaheedi Jor Mela at Gurdwara Bhatta Sahib in Rupnagar district.
Punjab education minister Daljit Singh Cheema and Anandpur Sahib MP Prem Singh Chandumajra also spoke on the occasion.
SGPC wants Sikh black list to go
The SGPC has called upon the central government to do away with the black list that contains the names of many NRI Sikhs.
“It is due to this list that a number of Sikh NRIs cannot visit the place of their birth. The government needs to look at this list afresh,” Makkar said in a statement.
He pointed out that this list even contained names of those Sikhs who had protested against Operation Bluestar. Sikhs settled in the US, England, Canada and other countries had come out in protest against the 1984 army action, he pointed out.
“Sikhs the world over were pained by the 1984 operation and they expressed their feelings in public. This led to the then Congress government putting them on the black list that debarred their entry into India,” he added.