The foundation stone of the 1984 Sikh genocide memorial was laid at Gurdwara Rakabganj Sahib Complex here on Wednesday in the presence of high priests of the Sikh community and senior leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) and the Bharatiya Janata Party.
The foundation stone was unveiled by head priests – Jathedar of Takht Shri Damdama Sahib Giani Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar of Akal Takht Giani Gurbachan Singh and Jathedar of Takht Shri Keshgarh Sahib Giani Tarlochan Singh. The event coincided with the martyrdom day of fifth Sikh Guru Arjan Dev.
Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) president and Deputy Chief Minister of Punjab Sukhbir Singh Badal, his wife and Bathinda MP Harsimrat Kaur and Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) president Manjit Singh GK were also present.
The ceremony was also attended by senior leaders of the BJP including its national president Rajnath Singh, Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj, Delhi unit chief Vijay Goel and Rajya Sabha MP Naresh Gujaral. Former Minorities Commission chairman Tarlochan Singh and DSGMC general secretary Manjinder Singh Sirsa were among the other important dignitaries present.
Mr. Badal said the Congress governments at the Centre and in Delhi have repeatedly denied justice to the Sikhs and those accused of genocide against Sikhs – such as Congress leaders Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler – are roaming scot-free.
“When we are not getting justice where would we go? We are left with no option but to raise a memorial for those who were killed. At least coming generations would know that innocents were mercilessly killed,” he said, adding that 14,000 innocent Sikhs were killed all over the country during the genocide and over 4,000 of them were murdered in Delhi alone.
Reacting to the notice served by the New Delhi Municipal Council last week, Mr. Badal said that while the Delhi Government was saying that the proposed memorial is being illegally built, he urged them to understand that killing innocent people is a crime against humanity.
Mr. Manjit Singh said the memorial will remind the coming generations about the injustice done to the Sikh community. He clarified that no illegal construction took place and that the DSGMC will take all permissions from the NDMC before starting construction of the memorial. He further added that 14 designs of the memorial have been received and a final design will be selected soon.
Mr. Sirsa thanked Sikhs worldwide for calling the memorial a symbol of victory for the Sikhs.
The construction of the memorial was approved by about 700 Singh Sabha gurdwaras in Delhi before being approved by the executive committee and general house of DSGMC. The Committee has also given a worldwide call inviting concept, model and design of the proposed memorial and clarified that it would not be a gurdwara in itself, said a statement.