Memorial For Punjab Militants At Golden Temple Divides Sikh Community

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AMRITSAR – The attack on Lt Gen (retd) KS Brar renewed the debate on Punjab government’s decision to allow the construction of a memorial dedicated to militants killed during the Operation Bluestar in Amritsar’s Golden Temple in 1984.

Though the construction is going on in full swing, the Sikh community is still divided over it. The ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (B) has been giving tacit support to the construction, but the Congress in Punjab is opposed to it.

Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee president Amarinder Singh has accused chief minister Parkash Singh Badal of playing the militancy card and not letting old wounds heal. Damdami Taksal, a Sikh seminary once headed by Sikh militant leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, is building the memorial.

Current Damdami Taksal chief Baba Harnam Singh Khalsa said, “The memorial will be a temple of peace, compassion and non-violence. The work should be completed by next June,” said Khalsa, often ‘blamed’ for not adhering to Bhindranwale’s ideology.

“Sant Jarnail Singh did whatever he felt was right for the welfare of the panth then. I am doing what I feel is right for the panth now,” said Khalsa.

The 18-feet memorial will be a gurdwara-like structure with round-the-clock ‘Parkash’ (installation) of Sri Guru Granth Sahib. The memorial is coming up around the Golden Temple near the supreme temporal seat of the Sikhs — Akal Takht. Like Sikh radical organizations wanting a memorial for community members killed in the army operation, Hindu organizations, too, demanded a memorial for all victims of militancy.