Sikh clergy meets today to discuss Operation Bluestar memorial issue | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Sikh clergy meets today to discuss Operation Bluestar memorial issue

The Sikh high priests are meeting on Wednesday wherein they will discuss the references made to former Damdami Taksal head Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale on the 'Operation Bluestar' memorial in the Golden Temple complex. Indications are that the clergy will keep the issue pending for further discussions. No concrete decision is likely to be taken with the 29th anniversary of Operation Bluestar just round the corner (June 6).

punjab Updated: May 15, 2013 21:08 IST
HT Correspondent

The Sikh high priests are meeting on Wednesday wherein they will discuss the references made to former Damdami Taksal head Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale on the 'Operation Bluestar' memorial in the Golden Temple complex.


Indications are that the clergy will keep the issue pending for further discussions. No concrete decision is likely to be taken with the 29th anniversary of Operation Bluestar just round the corner (June 6). The anniversary is observed every year as 'ghallughara divas' (genocide day) at the Akal Takht and the clergy is aware that any decision to erase Bhindranwale's name from the memorial will come handy for the radicals to try and browbeat the moderate Akali elements and even the jathedars of the takhts at the function on June 6.

So, the jathedars will let the function pass-off peacefully and wait for the dust to settle before announcing its decision.

The meeting has been called by Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh, following a deadlock between the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and the Damdami Taksal-led Sant Samaj - a conglomerate of 10-11 Sikh religious groups. While the SGPC favours removal of all references made to Bhindranwale, the Sant Samaj is against any such move.

The meeting, in which heads or representatives of all the five takhts are expected to be present, will discuss threadbare the May 6 memorandum submitted to Giani Gurbachan Singh by the Sant Samaj. In the memorandum, the Sant Samaj categorically stated that it was against removal of Bhindernwale's name from the entrance of the octagonal marble structure and on a board in the 'parikrama' of the shrine close to the Akal Takht.

The memorandum sought to remind the Akal Takht Jathedar that while constructing the memorial through 'kar sewa', the Damdami Taksal led by its current head Harnam Singh Dhumma had gone by the May 3, 2012 resolution passed by the SGPC executive. The resolution clearly states that a "gurdwara will be built in memory of Sant Jarnail Singh and other martyrs of June 1984".

The core committee of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which also met on May 6, had directed SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar to find a solution to the controversy in accordance with the resolution of May 3 last year.

The core committee directive is in total contrast to the assurance given by chief minister Parkash Singh Badal in the state assembly that the memorial will be a gurdwara where there will be 'parkash' of the Guru Granth Sahib and that it will not be dedicated to any individual. The CM had been under tremendous pressure, particularly from his party's alliance partner, the BJP, after Bhindranwale's name was found etched at the entrance of the memorial on the day of its inauguration (April 27).

Makkar, on his part, too, had repeated the words of the chief minister when the memorial was under construction by Dhumma and his Taksal followers. However, he was taken aback when after its inauguration, the media told him that Bhindranwale's name was kept concealed with a garland of flowers and unveiled by Dhumma after the function.

In a bid to find an 'amicable solution', Makkar sought the help of the Akal Takht and formed a 3-member committee. The committee, comprising the jathedar, Harmandir Sahib head granthi Giani Mal Singh and SGPC executive member Rajinder Singh Mehta, too, failed to convince Dhumma to erase his former head's name from the memorial entrance and from the board in the 'parikrama' which narrates the history of the June 1984 army operation which brought to an end the reign of Bhindranwale and his band of armed followers from the holiest Sikh shrine.

The board also bears the names of Amrik Singh, Shahbeg Singh and Thara Singh, all of whom were killed with Bhindranwale in the operation.

Dhumma, backed by influential Sant Samaj leaders, has so far stood his ground even after Makkar reminded him that it was the SGPC that administers the Golden Temple and reserves the sole right 'to remove or erect any board' inside the shrine. During their meeting on May 2, Dhumma took exception to the SGPC replacing the wall clock containing a photograph of Bhindranwale from inside the memorial, which was handed over to the religious body by the Taksal after its inauguration.

The SGPC chief who has come in for a great deal of criticism is banking on the Sikh clergy to bail him out of the crisis and get the references to Bhinderanwale removed. The memorial took close to 11 months to build and all this while the SGPC failed to take notice of the 'secret plans' of the Taksal.

Radical group Dal Khalsa will submit a memorandum to the clergy just before the start of the meeting, demanding that the matter be resolved through a 'larger Sikh conclave' at the Akal Takht. In the memorandum, it will also seek directions from the Akal Takht to SAD, asking the BJP to halt its interference in Sikh religious matters.