The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has nobody but itself to blame for the controversy over former Damdami Taksal head Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale's name on the inscription of the Operation Bluestar memorial in the Golden Temple complex.
Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal trusted the SGPC when he gave an undertaking in the assembly that the memorial would be a gurdwara inside the shrine in memory of those who died during the army operation of June 1984. He had specifically given his word to the nation that it would not be in memory of any individual.
It took Damdami Taksal close to 11 months to build the memorial, but the Shiromani Akali Dal-controlled SGPC led by Avtar Singh Makkar failed to monitor its construction.
When the 'kar sewa' began on June 6, 2012, a priest of Harmandar Sahib mentioned in the ardas that the memorial would be built in memory of Bhindranwale, the latter's associates Bhai Amrik Singh, Baba Thara Singh and Shahbeg Singh and all 'shaheed' (martyrs) of Operation Bluestar. However, this reference escaped the notice of Makkar and his SGPC colleagues, who were present on the occasion. The day had marked the 28th anniversary of the army operation which claimed the lives of Bhindranwale and his armed followers.
On April 27, when the memorial was inaugurated, Makkar was not aware of the references to Bhindranwale on the memorial and on a board put up in the 'parkarma' of the shrine, close to the Akal Takht. The board mentioned in three languages the history of the operation and named all prominent associates of Bhindranwale.
Makkar expressed surprise when the media told him that at the entrance to the marble structure was written (translated from Punjabi), 'Gurdwara Yadgaar Shaheed: In memory of Damdami Taksal head Sant Jarnail Singh and other martyrs of June 1984 army attack'. Despite his assurance, he has failed to find an amicable solution, even as political parties are accusing Badal and the ruling SAD of breaching the trust of the people.
The SGPC chief is now pinning hopes on Akal Takht head Giani Gurbachan Singh, who has called a meeting of the five Sikh high priests on May 15 to discuss the Sant Samaj's memorandum against removal of Bhindranwale's name from the memorial or the board.
The directive issued on Monday by the SAD's core committee to Makkar to abide by the SGPC resolution of May 3, 2012, has complicated things. Going by this resolution, Damdami Taksal head Harnam Singh Dhumma has committed no offence as it is clearly mentioned that a memorial be erected in memory of Bhindranwale and other martyrs of Operation Bluestar.
Apparently, the SAD leadership does not want to annoy the Sant Samaj, which supported the party in the 2012 assembly polls.
SGPC resolution of May 3, 2012
The proposal to erect the memorial in memory of those who perished during the army attack on Darbar Sahib and Akal Takht in June 1984 has been adopted with the consent of Pardhan Sahib (Makkar) and other members of the executive committee. On the demand from Sikh Sangat and the sub-committee, it was decided upon that near Akal Takht, a gurdwara will be built in memory of Sant Jarnail Singh and other martyrs of June 1984. The kar sewa is entrusted to Baba Harnam Singh, head, Damdami Taksal, who will accomplish the task within one year. However, he will not place any 'tokri' (basket) for donation over there
It is also resolved that all signs of army attack, including a bullet-ridden 'bir' of Gurur Granth Sahib and bullet marks on buildings such as Maharaja Sher Singh Deori, would be preserved for times to come.