The apex clergy of the Sikh community and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) appeared to have stirred up another controversy on Wednesday as they once again honoured the assassins of the former Army Chief, General A.S. Vaidya, at Akal Takht in Amritsar.

While Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh did not participate in the ‘bhog ceremony’, SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar has been indisposed for some time.

The kin of Harjinder Singh Jinda and Sukhdev Singh Sukha, who were hanged in Pune on October 9, 1992, six years after the assassination of Gen. Vaidya, were honoured by the manager of Darbar Sahib. SGPC secretary Dalmegh Singh was present.

Others who participated in the event that marked the 20th anniversary of the hanging of the duo included the spokesmen of the Dal Khalsa and the Damdami Taksal, Kanwarpal Singh and Bhai Mokham Singh.

Both Jinda and Sukha, who had killed Gen. Vaidya on August 10, 1986, were declared ‘martyrs’ of the Sikh community for avenging “Operation Blue Star.”

Their portraits figure in the paintings museum in the Golden Temple complex. The anniversary of their hanging has been observed at the Akal Takht since 1992 — special prayers are offered after the completion of the Akhand Path (uninterrupted recitation) of the Guru Granth Sahib.

Robes of honour

On Wednesday, “siropas” (robes of religious honour) were presented to Jinda’s brother, Bhupinder Singh, and Sukha’s mother, Surjit Kaur. The event, which comes on the heels of the attempt on the life of the only surviving commander of “Operation Blue Star,” Lt.-Gen. K.S. Brar, has created ripples in Punjab, where the opposition Congress and the ruling alliance partner, the Bharatiya Janata Party, have expressed concern over the increasing space being given to pro-hardline sections in Sikh politics.

The event is being connected to the SPGC decision to allow construction of a memorial for those who died defending the faith in “Operation Blue Star” as well as recent incidents of honouring militants inside the Golden Temple complex. Congress leaders including PCC chief Amarinder Singh and the BJP’s Manoranjan Kalia and Balramji Das Tandon have said recurring observance of such events not only revived old wounds but also created fear psychosis among the minorities in the State.

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