The highest body of Sikhs in the Capital, the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), on Wednesday decided to lay the foundation stone of a memorial being constructed in memory of those killed in the November 1984 riots close to Parliament House in the Gurdwara Rakabganj Sahib Complex on June 12.
At a meeting of the Committee, it was decided that the five head priests of the Sikhs, the Panj Pyaras, will lay the foundation stone and top Shiromani Akali Dal-Badal and Bharatiya Janata Party leaders would also participate in the ceremony.
The foundation stone laying ceremony would coincide with the martyrdom day of fifth Sikh Guru Arjan Dev.
Announcing the decision to proceed with the memorial, DSGMC president Manjit Singh GK, while speaking in the presence of general secretary Manjinder Singh Sirsa, said as decided earlier, the memorial would come up adjacent to Parliament House in the Gurdwara Rakabganj Sahib Complex.
Mr. Singh said the proposal for constructing the memorial has been cleared by an 11-member ‘November 1984 Yaadgar Committee’ which has also provided the schedule of the foundation stone laying ceremony. The committee comprises Mr. Singh and Mr. Sirsa and other prominent Akali leaders including Avtar Singh Hit, Onkar Singh Thapar, Vikramjit Singh Sahni, Jatinder Singh Sahni, Mahinder Singh Matharoo, Harcharan Singh, Kuldip Singh Bhogal and Birender Singh. Senior advocate H. S. Phoolka, who has been fighting for the riot victims in the courts, is also a member of this panel.
The decision to build a memorial has come close on the heels of acquittal of Congress leader Sajjan Kumar -- who was facing allegations of perpetrating 1984 anti-Sikh riots -- by a Karkardooma court on April 30.
The DSGMC president added that June 12 would be a historic day as the memorial would be dedicated to all those innocent people who were killed in the 1984 carnage all over the country. As many as 4,000 innocent Sikhs were killed in Delhi and about 14,000 all over the country, he said. “It would have been good had the government given us land for the same. On the contrary an effort in November last year to name a park to commemorate killing of innocent Sikhs was scuttled by the government,” Mr. Singh said, adding that the families of those killed were happy that a memorial was now finally being built.
Mr. Sirsa, who is a councillor from Punjabi Bagh in West Delhi, had in November 2012 proposed in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi that a park in the area be named ‘1984 riot victims’ commemorative park’ but the move was allegedly scuttled at the last hour by Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, the DSGMC leadership alleged.
The Akali leaders said the foundation stone ceremony of the memorial is expected to be attended among others by SAD patron and Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, SAD president and Punjab Deputy CM Sukhbir Singh Badal, BJP president Rajnath Singh, Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj and leaders of other sects, religions and political parties.