Delhi Gurdwaras To Hail Indira Gandhi ‘s Killers As Martyrs?


AMRITSAR – For the past 10 years, the Nanakshahi calendar of the ShiromaniGurdwaraParbandhak Committee (SGPC) – the largest representative body of the Sikhs – has marked a few ‘historical days’. These days – which include the death anniversaries of the assassins of Indira Gandhi and former Army chief ArunVaidya as well as terrorist leaders like Bhindranwale – have been observed at the Golden Temple in Amritsar with akhand path and other ceremonies.

Now these controversial celebrations seem set to be held in Delhi too, as the new management of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) says it is not averse to observing these anniversaries.

“The SGPC is already observing these occasions. And if we are directed by the jathedar of the Akal Takht, we, too, will definitely hold these anniversaries. How can we say no to him?” says Manjit Singh, newly-elected president of the DSGMC, which is backed by the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal).

On his part, Giani Gurbachan Singh, jathedar of the Akal Takht – Sikhism’s supreme temporal seat – when contacted, told TOI that “the anniversaries should be observed by Sikhs wherever they are living and that it was the duty of the community to remember its martyrs.” When pointed out that the ‘martyrs’ were considered as terrorists and anti-national elements by many, the jathedar responsed, “People may call them terrorists but they are martyrs of our community.”

The Nanakshahi calendar – with its controversial anniversaries – was adopted by SGPC in 2003. The brainchild of Canadian scholar Pal Singh Purewal, the calendar’s ‘historical days’ section lists a number of ‘martyrdom’ days like that of Indira Gandhi’s assassins Kehar Singh, Satwant Singh (January 6) and Beant Singh (October 31). The day separatist leaders Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and Amrik Singh were killed by the Army in Operation Bluestar is listed (June 6) and so is the death anniversary of Sukhdev Singh Sukha and Harjinder Singh Jinda (October 9) who killed Arun Vaidya, the Army chief when Operation Bluestar was conducted.

Avtar Singh Makkar, SGPC president, also gave his backing to the DSGMC observing these occasions. “DSGMC is an independent elected body; if they observe these anniversaries we will support them. After all these are the historical days prescribed in Nanakshahi calendar”.

For almost a decade, DSGMC was controlled by the Delhi Akali Dal, which is backed by the Congress. This, say observers, explains why the question of observing these anniversaries was never even raised although SGPC was observing them in Amritsar. Things, though, look set to change in Delhi from this year on.