The controversy surrounding the Operation Bluestar memorial took a new turn on Friday as a Sant Samaj faction led by Bhai Ram Singh dubbed the octagonal marble structure in the Golden Temple complex "incomplete memorial that fails to convey the message of sacrifices made by the 'qaum' (community) in its long struggle against repression and injustice."
The stand was reflected in a resolution adopted unanimously at a conclave of 'Shabad Guru Prachar Sant Samaj' held here. Besides its president Bhai Ram Singh, other prominent persons present included faction's chairman Bhai Ghala Singh and Giani Kewal Singh, a former jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib, Raghubir Singh Raja Sansi of Akali Dal 1925, Darshan Singh Issapur, a former SGPC secretary, Karnail Singh Peer Mohammed, president of Sikh Students Federation faction, and Baldev Singh, president of All India Dharami Fauji (army deserters of 1984) Federation. Apart from heads of certain Nihang groups and 6-7 religious groups involved in 'kar sewa' at Sikh holy places, relatives of few persons who died during Operation Bluestar and anti-Sikh riots of 1984 also attended the conclave.
Appreciating the efforts made by Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee in getting the memorial constructed, Bhai Ram Singh read out the resolution and stated that a memorial in the shape of gurdwara could not termed an appropriate memorial. In this shape, it failed to convey the message of the Sikh struggle to the future generations, he claimed.
Not favouring the demolition of the structure, the resolution stated that it should convey the entire history of the Sikh "struggle" starting from Sikh-Nirankari clash of 1978 in Amritsar to Operation Bluestar and anti-Sikh riots of 1984 etc.
"References should be made not just to Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale but to all those who perished along with him in the 1984 army operation. The names of those who died in the clash with Nirankaris, anti-Sikh riots in Delhi, Kanpur and other places and even those who were victims of police atrocities should be included on this memorial," Bhai Ram Singh told media persons later.
He mentioned the names of Beant Singh, Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh, involved in the Indira Gandhi assassination case, to be put on the memorial. "References on the memorial should also be to those who made sacrifices in this struggle, including the army deserters of 1984," the Sant Samaj faction leader added.
Interestingly, Bhai Ram Singh, who is still a member of the Damdami Taksal, had lost the race for the headship of the seminary to Harnam Singh Dhuma a couple of years ago. Despite staying away from the Taksal headquarters at Mehta Chowk for quite sometime, Bhai Ram Singh felt that Dhuma had taken the right step by inscribing the name of Bhindranwale on the memorial despite "opposition" from the SGPC and the Punjab government.
"One name or photo will not suffice. We must have names and larger photos of all our martyrs," he said when asked about the controversy over inscription of Bhindranwale's name above the entrance to the memorial.
'Memorial internal matter of Sikhs'
Agreeing with the views of Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh and Dhuma, Bhai Ram Singh also termed the memorial an "internal issue of the Sikhs."
"The BJP, the RSS and the Congress should keep their hands off our issues. If they can have an airport named after Indira Gandhi (IGI international airport) and a memorial to Beant Singh (former Punjab CM), why can't we have memorials to our martyrs," he added.
'Will meet Akal Takht Jathedar'
Bhai Ram Singh indicated that he would meet with Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan singh after his returns to the city and put forth his viewpoint. The Jathedar is currently abroad and is expected back next week.
Even as Dhuma with the backing of Sant Samaj has outrightly rejected the demand to remove the name of Bhindranwale from the memorial, a meeting of the Sikh high priests on May 15 to discuss the issue failed to come up with a solution.
The clergy are seeking opinion from different sections before arriving at any solution. It is in this context that Bhai Ram Singh too is keen on putting forth his views before the Sikh clergy.