Thanks to political exigencies, the Akali Dal leadership on Wednesday got the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) to remove militant leader Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale’s picture from a memorial, constructed for those who died during Operation Blue Star, within the precincts of the Harmandar Sahib (Golden Temple) in Amritsar.

SGPC officials replaced the clock that carried Bhindranwale’s picture with an ordinary one and erased his name from the golak (service offerings case). However, his name is still inscribed on a marble slab on top of the entrance to the memorial, which was constructed by the Damdami Taksal, a religious seminary where Bhindranwale was the 14th chief when the Army stormed the Golden Temple in June 1984 to remove him and his armed associates.

Though the SGPC, which manages affairs of historic shrines in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh, entrusted the Taksal with kar seva of the memorial last year, differences between the two cropped up after Bhindranwale’s name and photograph appeared on the memorial gate and inside the shrine. While the SGPC said it was agreed upon that no name would be put up on the memorial, the Taksal justifies its action saying that Bhindranwale led the resistance by those who laid down their lives.

SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar asked a three-member committee headed by the Jathedar of the Akal Takht, Giani Gurbachan Singh, to resolve the issue. While the Jathedar is away in Delhi, the present chief of the Taksal, Baba Harnam Singh Dhuma, refused to be part of parleys until he met the Jatedhar.

The Akali leadership, which previously defended construction of the memorial, has expressed its displeasure over the use of Bhindranwale’s name.

Even its alliance partner, the BJP, made known its apprehension over the building of the memorial which, it said, could jeopardise communal harmony in the State.