As the nation remembered late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on her 28th death anniversary, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) paid homage to Beant Singh, one of the PM's assassins, in the Golden Temple complex here on Wednesday.
The SGPC performed the bhog of akhand path in Beant's memory in a room adjacent to the Akal Takht. The ceremony has been an annual feature since 1985, when the SGPC observed the first death anniversary of the assassin, who was declared a 'quami shaheed' (martyr of the Sikh community) by the Akal Takht.
On October 31, 1984, Beant, an inspector in the Delhi Police who was on Gandhi's security duty, along with another bodyguard, Satwant Singh, had assassinated the then PM at her residence. The assassination was aimed at avenging the army action on the Golden Temple in 1984 (Operation Bluestar).
Beant was shot dead by other cops on the spot, while Satwant was taken into custody. Another conspirator, Kehar Singh, was arrested later. Satwant and Kehar were hanged to death on January 6, 1989, and were thereafter declared "martyrs of the Sikh Panth". Their death anniversary, too, is observed in the Golden Temple by the SGPC.
On Wednesday, the ardas at the bhog ceremony was performed by Harmandar Sahib priest Giani Rawel Singh. Golden Temple manager Harbans Singh Malhi, SGPC assistant managers Baldev Singh and Bhupinder Singh Bhinda, and Satwant's brother Waryam Singh Agwan were among those present on the occasion.
However, Akal Takht jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh and SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar did not attend the ceremony.
Waryam was honoured with a 'siropa' by Rajdeep Singh, another priest of Harmandar Sahib. No speeches were made and those present dispersed quietly after the hour-long ceremony.
No representative of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the party that controls the SGPC, was present. Since the past decade or so, senior Akali leaders have been keeping away from such ceremonies. On October 9, the SGPC had observed the death anniversary of Harjinder Singh Jinda and Sukhdev Singh Sukha, Operation Bluestar commander Gen AS Vaidya's assassins, who were hanged on October 9, 1992.