Akal Takht head priest justifies pro-Khalistan slogans at Op Bluestar anniversary

Event passes off peacefully even as Giani Harpreet Singh justifies pro-Khalistan slogans raised by a section of Sikh hardliners, saying that Sikhs mitigate their pain by uttering the secessionist slogan
Akal Takht acting jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh, SGPC president Bibi Jagir Kaur and others during the 37th anniversary of the Operation Bluestar at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on Sunday. (Sameer Sehgal/HT)
Akal Takht acting jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh, SGPC president Bibi Jagir Kaur and others during the 37th anniversary of the Operation Bluestar at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on Sunday. (Sameer Sehgal/HT)
Published on Jun 07, 2021 12:04 AM IST
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By, Amritsar

The 37th anniversary of Operation Bluestar at the Golden Temple passed off peacefully on Sunday even as Akal Takht acting jathedar Giani Harpreet Singh justified pro-Khalistan slogans raised on the occasion by a section of Sikh hardliners, saying that the Sikhs mitigate their pain by uttering the secessionist slogan.

“This is a deep wound on Sikhs, which gives pain throughout the year. On its anniversary, we reduce this pain by uttering ‘Khalistan Zindabad’. It can never be forgotten. It will be part of our memory forever,” said the acting jathedar, amid echoes of slogans during his customary address from the highest temporal seat of Sikhs on the anniversary of the military action at Golden Temple in Amritsar.

Even during his address last year, the jathedar had stated that every Sikh wanted Khalistan and if the government offers them the formation of a separate nation, “they will accept it happily”.

“The Indian Army attacked Akal Takht just like it battled against China and Pakistan during wars. However, the treatment given to Sikhs was more oppressive and brutal than one given by the winning side to the losing side in a battle,” said Giani Harpreet Singh on Sunday.

The acting jathedar claimed that he had received a lot of emails seeking June 6 be declared as “Amritsar Genocide”. “However, we should remember that the Indian Army not only attacked the Sikh shrine in Amritsar, but also 37 other gurdwaras,” he said, while adding that the term genocide should rather be used for the killing of Sikhs in Delhi and other cities after Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s assassination in November 1984.

“The community has already recognised the Operation Bluestar as another ‘ghallughara’ (holocaust),” he said, adding: “We know how this deep wound is to be treated, and where its medicine lies, but how this medicine is to be arranged, we never tried to think over it by sitting together.”

This ‘josh’ keeps community alive: SGPC chief

Replying to a query on the sidelines of the function, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Bibi Jagir Kaur endorsed the jathedar’s views on pro-Khalistan slogans. “This is an expression of the Sikh youth’s ‘josh’ (vehemence). As Singh Sahib (jathedar) stated the youngsters demonstrated their sentiments and healed their pain on the occasion,” she said.

“This ‘josh’ suggests that the Sikh community is alive and acts independently. A community losing ‘josh’ is considered dead. When the youths raise these slogans, they demonstrate that they are competent to fight the enemy. So, we have no objection to it,” said the head of the apex Sikh body.

The same leniency was also shown by the SGPC while imposing no restrictions on the Sikh hardline and splinter Akali groups, such as Simranjit Singh Mann-led SAD (Amritsar), and allowing them to carry on with their activities on the anniversary, including displaying of placards with separatist demands and portraits of militants killed during the operation.

Event passes off peacefully amid huge gathering

Despite Covid-19 weekend lockdown imposed in the city, the gathering was much bigger than that seen in recent years. However, no untoward incident was reported.

“The anniversary passed off peacefully as we had made unprecedented arrangements across the city,” said Parminder Singh Bhandal, deputy commissioner of police (law and order).

Sarbat Khalsa-appointed parallel acting jathedar Dhian Singh Mand also read out his message outside the Akal Takht. In a goodwill gesture, Giani Harpreet Singh presented “siropas” (robe of honour) to Dal Khalsa leaders inside the Akal Takht, though they accepted it reluctantly. Names of the rival Sikh leaders were also mentioned in the press note released by the SGPC.

While kin of militant leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and Amrik Singh were honoured, names of other prominent militants were left out. The Sikh hardliners termed it a “fiasco” on the part of the SGPC.

Actor-turned-activist Deep Sidhu, the prime accused in the Red Fort violence case who is out on bail, also made his presence felt along with his supporters. A book authored by Malkit Singh Bhawanigarh on the army action at 37 other gurdwaras in Punjab was released. A function was also organised at Damdami Taksal’s headquarter Gurdwara Gurdarshan Parkash at Chowk Mehta in Amritsar.

SGPC to reprint white paper on Op Bluestar

SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur said the apex Sikh body will reprint the white paper on Operation Bluestar, which has been out of print for decades, to tell the people “truth” behind the army action at Golden Temple in 1984.

Speaking about the Sikh soldiers who left the barracks in protest against the operation, she said the SGPC has provided aid to these “Dharmi Faujis”. In case, any soldier was left out, they should contact us, she said.

“The SGPC will also provide free education to children who have lost their parents due to Covid-19 pandemic and children of farmers who died during the ongoing protests against the central laws,” she said.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Surjit Singh is a correspondent. He covers politics and agriculture, besides religious affairs and Indo-Pak border in Amritsar and Tarn Taran.

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