People who fell victim to bullets of militants in Punjab will soon have a befitting memorial.
The memorial, a concrete structure, will come up inside the Durgiana Mandir complex. The construction is set to begin soon with the Shri Durgiana Committee having given its go-ahead to the project.
The proposal was cleared by the general house of the committee last year and by the executive a month ago. It is a bold step with the committee having received threatening letters from the militant outfit, the Khalistan Commando Force (KCF), after the proposal was cleared by the general house.
A similar threat from the same outfit was received a few days ago, with a clear warning that the proposal be dropped. However, the committee was unanimous in its view that the memories of those who were shot dead by terrorists or those who had sacrificed their lives while fighting militancy be kept alive.
So now the holy city will have two memorials -- one that remembers the terrorists who killed innocents and the other that will tell a silent story of the heroics of the security forces personnel and of innocent men, women and children who fell to the bullets of the militants. The first one stands in the Golden Temple complex and was got built by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) last year amid controversy while the second will come up just 2 km away.
Idea after Bluestar memorial
"Yes, we took the decision to build the memorial only after the Bluestar memorial came up. We thought of the need to have a structure in memory of those who were killed by terrorists or those who died fighting terrorists, which include our police personnel and army jawans," Durgiana Committee general secretary Ramesh Chander Sharma told HT.
He said, "Without caste, creed or religion, this memorial will be a tribute to all those who attained martyrdom for the sake of the Hindu dharam in any part of the country or abroad."
When asked to clarify, Sharma said it would go beyond the times of terrorism in Punjab, though a major portion of it would pertain to the terrorist period. Guru Tegh Bahadur attained martyrdom while defending the Hindu dharam, then there were many others thereafter, who too had sacrificed their lives while defending Hinduism, he explained.
"Even in Punjab, the terrorists wanted to create a communal divide, so they targeted a number of Hindus.
So that is why we are dedicating it to all those who sacrificed their lives for Hindu dharam," he said.
The memorial will not highlight any particular political party and will contain the names of Communist, Congress, BJP, Akali and other party leaders who were targeted by terrorists. These include BJP leaders Hit Abhilashi, Harbans Lal Khanna and Tarsem Singh Bahar, former chief minister Beant Singh, Congress leaders Brij Bhushan Mehra, Darshan Singh Kaypee and Tarlochan Singh Riasti, Akali Dal leaders Sant Longowal and Balwant Singh and communist leaders Darshan Singh Canadian, Sarwan Singh Cheema and Chanan Singh Dhoot.
The Durgiana Committee after shortlisting three sites has approved a 600-yard space just behind the Shani temple inside the Durgiana Mandir complex. It will have an entry from inside the temple as well as a separate independent entry.
A reputed architect has been asked to submit a suitable design of the memorial to the committee. An initial proposal is to have a multi-storey structure, but this will depend on a final approval of the design by the committee.
The committee, which is currently busy with the festive season, hopes to lay the foundation stone of the structure in a month. The minimum cost worked out by the committee is Rs 2 crore and it will bear the entire cost.
According to Sharma, the memorial will contain the photographs of all those who had lost their lives during terrorism and even before that period. It will also have photographs of Punjab police, paramilitary force and army personnel, as they all had a major role to play in bringing peace and normalcy to Punjab, he added.
He said they had already started contacting some terrorist-affected forums for collecting details of terrorist victims. Likewise, they would contact security personnel for getting the details of their officers and jawans who died while combating militancy, he added.
"We will also establish contact with panchayats to get information of persons killed by terrorists in villages," he added.