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Portrait of Bhindranwale installed at SGPC’s Sikh Museum
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 29
The SGPC today courted yet another controversy by installing a portrait of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale in the Sikh Museum of Golden Temple at a quiet function after sunset here today.

The SGPC wanted to make the function a low-key affair in view of criticism of the portrait-installation move by certain Hindu organisations, including the BJP. Moreover, it wanted to pre-empt the move of radical Sikhs to install a portrait at the museum, showing him wearing a revolver and other traditional weapons.

Interestingly, the SGPC had sent invitations to the representatives of certain Sikh organisations. According to the invitation, the portrait was to be installed at the museum at 7.45 am tomorrow. Spokesman for Damdami Taksal and convener of the Khalsa Action Committee Bhai Mohkam Singh, who was also invited to the function, expressed surprise over advancing the date of ceremony without any information. It was the KAC that had been spearheading the demand for the installation of the portrait.

He has asked SGPC chief Avtar Singh to explain as to why the portrait was installed after sunset while Sant Bhindranwale had been killed during sunshine in Operation Bluestar.

Though the Jathedar of Akal Takht Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, SGPC chief Avtar Singh and the son of Sant Bhindranwale were present at the function, the SGPC deliberately ignored radical Sikhs to avoid any controversy.

Dal Khalsa spokesman Kanwarpal Singh, however, said the installation of the portrait was a welcome step though the SGPC had kept the function a low-key affair, for obvious reasons.

For two decades, then acting head of Damdami Taksal Baba Thakur Singh had virtually misled people till his death in 2004 by claiming Bhindranwale was alive.

It is learnt that some radical outfits, which were instrumental in getting Sant Bhindranwale declared a “martyr” by the Jathedar, Akal Takht, sided with Baba Harnam Singh on the condition that the controversy over the death of the Sant be resolved in the future.

After unveiling the portrait of Sant Bhindranwale, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht appreciated the SGPC for taking initiative, describing him (Sant Bhindranwale) a “great martyr” of the Sikh community, who made “supreme sacrifice” for the sake of “faith”. After the installation of the portrait, Jathedar Vedanti said the SGPC had done “historical work”. The SGPC and Jathedar Akal Takht described him as the “greatest Sikh warrior of 20th century”.

The SGPC Chief, in a written statement, said the Shiromani Committee had been endeavouring to preserve the memories of the Sikh warriors, like Sant Bhindranwale so that coming generations could get “inspiration”.

The Central Sikh museum, displaying the origin and growth of Sikh religion through several artifacts, is part of the Golden Temple and SGPC complex. Established on July 11, 1958, the Central Sikh Museum is housed in a big hall and a few adjoining rooms on the second floor of temple's entrance. The museum contains a number of exhibits that include important religious documents, old coins, paintings, weapons used by great Sikh warriors and many other things relating to the Sikh history. It also has paintings of Sikh Gurus, saints, Sikh warriors and other prominent Sikh leaders who contributed to the propagation of Sikhism and spread of Sikhism.

The museum's painting gallery has many pictures from the 13th century.

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