At a low-key function on Saturday, religious seminary Damdami Taksal handed over charge of the controversial memorial to “martyrs of Operation Bluestar,” constructed within the precincts of the holiest Sikh shrine Harmandar Sahib (Golden Temple), in Amritsar to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.
After the “bhog” of “Akhand Path” (uninterrupted recitation of scriptures), Taksal chief Harnam Singh Dhuma handed over the keys of the memorial to SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar. The memorial, built as a shrine, has been named Gurdwara Yadgar Shaheedan and has been dedicated to the memory of militant leader Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and other martyrs of “Operation Bluestar,” which took place in 1984.
Sant Bhindranwale was the 14th chief of the Damdami Taksal, which was entrusted with the task of building the memorial by the SGPC about 11 months ago. Following criticism from various quarters that it would fuel fundamentalist politics, Punjab’s ruling party, the Shiromani Akali Dal, which controls the SGPC, distanced itself from the memorial. The construction was scheduled to be completed by the next anniversary of the Army action on the shrine, which falls on June 6.
The Taksal chief, while interacting with reporters, said the memorial was constructed through “kar sewa” and contributions by the Sikh “sangat” settled globally.
He said that while the construction was completed within a record time, the Taksal had not maintained any records of the utilisation of funds.
The memorial’s completion fulfilled the aspirations of all those Sikhs, who wanted to pay a tribute to those who sacrificed their lives defending the holiest shrine, he said.
Reacting to the memorial’s completion, radical organisation Dal Khalsa thanked Damdami Taksal and the SGPC for fulfilling the Sikh Panth’s long standing desire and is a step towards recognising the martyrdom of those who fought till their last breath against the desecration of Darbar Sahib and Akal Takht. H.S. Dhami, party president and spokesperson Kanwar Pal Singh through a release said the memorial would be a fitting reply to those who had been lecturing the Sikhs to forget the events of 1984.
They said the memorial would also convey the message that the Sikhs had deep respect for the martyrs of the faith.