No member of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) attended the 30th anniversary commemoration function of Operation Bluestar held at the Golden Temple complex here on Friday.
For the past few years, the ruling Akali leaders, including MLAs and party functionaries, have been keeping themselves away from the function. Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal had attended some of the anniversary functions in the eighties and early nineties, but never as a chief minister.
However, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhik Committee (SGPC) leaders, including its chief Avtar Singh Makkar, were present on the 30th anniversary. In fact, being the organiser of this event, all SGPC chiefs' made it a point to attend this annual event despite their being members of the ruling SAD because the SGPC is the organiser of this event.
This is for the first time that a clash broke out during the commemoration function. In past too, leaders like Simranjit Singh Mann, have raised pro-Khalistan slogans, but physical confrontation had never taken place. Even when Badal attended the event, he never got provoked by Mann's attitude.
In the past, differences were limited to verbal duels between SGPC leaders and radical group members over one issue or the other, including the raising of 'Khalistan' slogans.
During the functions in 2010-11, radical groups like Dal Khalsa had raised their voice for building a memorial in memory of those killed during Operation Bluestar. However, the matter was amicably resolved with the SGPC giving assurance that it was under consideration.
The memorial issue was not raised last year by the Dal Khalsa as the SGPC had conceded to their demand. The memorial was inaugurated in April last.