Effort to avoid showdown at Akal Takht on Operation Bluestar anniversary on June 6


Jagtar Singh

Chandigarh, June 3: Wiser from the mess created last year by some elements that sent out wrong signals across the world about the Sikh community at large, a sincere effort has been initiated this time by the Sarbat Khalsa organisations and Shiromani Akali Dal chief and Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal to avoid show down and any untoward incident during the function at Akal Takht on June 6 to observe 32nd anniversary of Operation Bluestar, the heinous army attack on the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar apparently to flush out Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his armed associates, including from Babbar Khalsa.

The meeting between the five member committee of the Sikh organisations  announced at Bargari on June 1 held a meeting with Sukhbir at Badal village in the morning on Friday  and discuss all aspects of the situation. Interestingly, it was Akali Dal (Amritsar) chief Simranjit Singh Mann who had suggested at Bargari that confrontation should be avoided. The 5-member committee was given the mandate to call on Chief Minister Parkash Singh  Badal and Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee president Avtar Singh Makkar in this framework. Within hours, the committee members got a call from Makkar to meet him on June 3. Late in the night, it was Sukhbir who took the initiative and invited the committee for today’s meeting. According to the sources, the meeting was held in  an unusually cordial manner and Sukhbir too was at his humble best.

Among the proposals that were discussed, the one was that both Giani Gurbachan Singh and Sarbat Khalsa appointed Akal Takht Jathedar Dhian Singh Mand should be allowed to deliver their customary message on this day separately that is associated with grimmest tragedies in the Sikh history. They should be allotted different time slots to avoid any confrontation.

It may be mentioned that Giani Gurbachan Singh has virtually been reduced to non-functional chief of Akal  Takht in view of his boycott my most of the Sikh organisations, including Damdami Taksal thereby eroding his legitimacy. Jathedar Dhian Singh Mand  can’t function as the appointing authority otherwise is the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. The proposal to remove the three non-functional jathedars has been discussed several times by Badal within his circle.

Two other proposals too were discussed but the one mentioned above  might get through. The final decision rests with Badal who was at Begowal today. It is learnt that Sukhbir has cancelled his other engagements and is giving top priority to this issue. The two might meet later in the evening and the committee would be conveyed by tomorrow morning.

Both the sides agreed on one point that there should be no confrontation.

The anniversary of Operation Bluestar is observed every year at Akal Takht by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee. No speeches are made and only Ardas (Prayer) is performed. The gathering has been going up for the last two years and it is mainly the youth who have started participating. The authorities admit growing tendency towards radicalization among the Sikh youth, more than about two decades after militancy was controlled.

Towards the end of the function last year, about 20 persons holding naked swords had entered the Golden Temple complex shouting slogans thereby creating unruly scenes. They had also clashed with the SGPC task force. The anniversary of Operation Bluestar should be a solemn occasion, not for shouting Khalistan Zindabad slogans. Even Mann had been resorting to slogan shouting at this function earlier. He seems to have changed this time.

The state government has put in place high security arrangements. However, these security arrangements are no deterrent going by the murder of an industrialist in Jalandhar at one of the busiest places and that too when the security forces had gathered at about 100 meters from the place of crime to take out flag march.

Akali Dal  can ill-afford any disturbance  with few months to go for the Assembly elections due in February 2017 when the law and order situation in the state is already deteriorating. Better sense has to prevail on both the sides. It should be an occasion to remember those who died during that horrible operation that went wrong and admitted by those who specialize in strategic affairs. Prime Minister Indira Gandhi paid for it with her life.

The situation should be taken towards closure by all the parties involved at that time and confess their guilt.


Jagtar Singh


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