M A I N   N E W S

Sikh clergy honours Beant killer Rajoana
SGPC chief lays foundation stone of Bluestar Memorial
Perneet Singh/TNS

Amritsar, June 6
The Sikh high priests today bestowed the title of ‘Zinda Shaheed’ (living martyr) on Balwant Singh Rajoana, convicted for the assassination of former Chief Minister Beant Singh, on the occasion of the 28th anniversary of Operation Bluestar at the Akal Takht here.

The clergy led by Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Gurbachan Singh presented a plaque, a shawl, a ‘siropa’ and a sword to Bibi Kamaldeep Kaur, Rajoana’s sister, who received the title on his behalf. However, the title was not conferred in the main ceremony, but a couple of hours before it.

Similarly, in an apparent bid to avoid confrontation with “disgruntled” radical groups, the Sikh clergy and SGPC chief Avtar Singh Makkar laid the foundation stone of the Operation Bluestar Memorial in the basement adjoining Gurdwara Thara Sahib in the Golden Temple Complex much before the main programme.

The development took many by surprise since the SGPC had on May 20 held a special ceremony for the launch of 'kar sewa' of the memorial. In his address, Giani Gurbachan Singh said the memorial would inspire generations of Sikhs. He also felicitated relatives of those killed in the Army operation. Among them were Isher Singh, son of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, Gurmeet Kaur, wife of Bhai Amrik Singh, and Bibi Pyar Kaur, mother of Indira Gandhi's assassin Satwant Singh.

Later, replying to a media query regarding former CM Captain Amarinder Singh’s opposition to the memorial, Makkar said, “He should not question construction of the memorial. But if he intends to, then he must first explain why he quit the Congress after the Army operation at the Golden Temple in 1984.” The Captain’s mindset has changed after he joined the Congress, he said.

Radical Sikh outfit Dal Khalsa leader Kanwar Pal Singh also wondered how the memorial would disturb peace in the state. “The Congress had attacked the Golden Temple and, therefore, the Captain’s criticism is neither strange nor relevant,” he added.

Differences among Sikh groups over the Operation Bluestar Memorial came to the fore today. SAD (Amritsar) president Simranjeet Singh Mann led the opposition and lashed out at the SGPC for handing over ‘kar sewa’ of the memorial to Damdami Taksal Chief Baba Harnam Singh Khalsa.

Addressing a gathering in front of the Akal Takht, he said the Damdami Taksal was no longer the same organisation once led by Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. “The Taksal today is openly conniving with the RSS, the BJP and its agent, the SAD,” he alleged. 




Amarinder says it’s wrong
Varinder Singh/TNS

Jalandhar, June 6
Amarinder Singh Punjab Congress president Amarinder Singh today opposed setting up of a memorial to those killed in Operation Bluestar inside the Golden Temple complex. Dismissing Bluestar as “history”, he said there was no need to raise a memorial to the “tragedy” as it would go against the interests of the state and the country.

“I had resigned from the Congress against Operation Bluestar, but times have changed. Operation Bluestar is history,” he said.

The country does not need any such memorials, Amarinder said, referring to the support extended by SAD (B) to the memorial and another one to those killed in the 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi. Amarinder also slammed the honour for Balwant Singh Rajoana. “It is a blunder. Rajoana was responsible for assassinating the late Beant Singh, who sacrificed his life to establish peace in the state,” he said.

Lashing out at the Akalis, he said, “CM Parkash Singh and Deputy CM Sukhbir Badal are playing with peace in Punjab by raking up such issues.” 




Sukhbir distances govt from memorial
Minna Zutshi/TNS

Ludhiana, June 6
Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal today distanced the state government from the Operation Bluestar Memorial being constructed by radical Sikh groups in Amritsar. The announcement comes on June 6, the date of the 28th anniversary of Operation Bluestar.

Sukhbir said: “The state has nothing to do with the memorial,” adding it was the project of the SGPC and the Damdami Taksal, in which the state government had no role.

Sukbir’s earlier statement that appeared in the media read: “Hundreds of innocent devotees who were trapped in the Golden Temple lost their lives during the Army attack in 1984. What is wrong if a memorial is built for them?”

Last month on May 20, the foundation stone of the memorial had been laid to mark the 28th anniversary of Operation Bluestar. Kamaldeep Kaur, Balwant Singh Rajoana’s sister, had donated Rs 1 lakh for the memorial on the day of the inauguration.




BJP slams SAD over honour to terrorists
Our Political Correspondent

New Delhi, June 6
After its initial silence on the sensitive issue, the BJP today fielded its senior leader Balbir Punj to distance itself from its ally, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), which has endorsed the move to honour terrorists killed in Operation Bluestar.

Disapproving of the Akalis' decision to construct a memorial at the Golden Temple where Operation Bluestar took place 28 years ago, Punj said this will encourage "anti-national" activities and upset the march of peace and prosperity being witnessed in Punjab under the leadership of CM Prakash Singh Badal.

The BJP is also unhappy that the Akal Takht had honoured Balwant Singh Rajoana, a convict in former Chief Minister Beant Singh's assassination case, with the title of 'Zinda Shaheed' today. A death row convict lodged in the Patiala Central Jail, Rajoana's hanging was put on hold earlier this year after the state government sought a presidential pardon for him. The BJP had opposed the state government's clemency plea as the saffron party has always advocated a tough line on terrorism and terrorists. 





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |