The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has decided to build a memorial to those who were killed in Operation Bluestar in 1984. Militant leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale's name tops the list of "martyrs" who had lost their lives in the military operation.
Although the proposal to build a memorial had been cleared on February 20, 2002, a decision to implement it was taken in an SGPC executive meeting chaired by its president Avtar Singh Makkar at Anandpur Sahib on Thursday.
While the Centre considers persons killed in the operation as militants, the SGPC has passed a resolution terming them as 'martyrs' of the Sikh Panth.
The memorial will be constructed on the right side while facing the Akal Takht, as recommended by an expert panel formed by the SGPC last year, said Makkar. Radical Sikh bodies, however, have been demanding a memorial on the left side while facing the Takht, which was damaged in the army operation.
The SGPC will conserve all the items damaged in the operation, including bullet-ridden gold sheets and Guru Granth Sahib, and display them in the memorial, he said.
Baba Harnam Singh Khalsa, head of the Damdami Taksal, will undertake the kar sewa of the memorial from May 20.
"We have finalised the site and the design will also be finalised in a week. Decisions on issues like naming the memorial and describing the role of 'martyrs', including Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, will be taken in due course. We will involve all factions of the Sikh Panth to discuss these matters," said Makkar.
Meanwhile, radical Sikh groups have welcomed the decision. "After so much delay and twists and turns, the SGPC has finally conceded to the popular demand of the Sikhs by giving its final consent to the memorial," said Kanwar Pal Singh, leader of the Dal Khalsa which had been spearheading a campaign for the memorial since 2003.
"Let's hope the proposed monument is in consonance with Sikh traditions and reflects the valour and fighting spirit of those who had laid down their lives while fighting the Indian armed forces," he said.
Kanwar Pal said the Saka Darbar Sahib Panel formed jointly by four Panthic organisations had suggested that the Maharaja Sher Singh Deori building was an ideal place to house the memorial as it still had bullet marks dating back to Operation Bluestar.