Amritsar: The Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) is likely to meet various political parties in Chandigarh on Saturday over its decision to install the portrait of slain rebel Sikh leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale in Amritsar's Golden Temple.
The face of the Khalistan movement in the 1980s, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, has been portrayed as a martyr by the members of SGPC.
Staunch followers had long been demanding that Bhindranwale's portrait be added to the Sikh museum's collection.
“The controversy is over. We have installed the portrait. It’s a religious matter,” says President SGPC, Avtaar Singh Makkar.
In the early 1980s, Bhindranwale had led an armed movement in the Golden Temple complex till his death in Operation Bluestar in 1984.
In 2003, the Akal Takht had awarded Bhindranwale the status of a martyr but he was not honoured in the museum at that time.
“He laid down his life in the massacre of 1984 to uphold our honour,” says Chief of Damdami Taksal, Harnaam Singh Dhooma.
The ruling Akali Dal has been quiet over the SGPC move and close ally BJP is not too impressed either. BJP has asked the SGPC to review the portrait's installation while the Punjab Congress has sought the intervention of Prime Minster Manmohan Singh and Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil in this matter.
BJP leader from Punjab, Balbir Punj told CNN-IBN that the decision to take Bhindranwale’s picture off ultimately lies with the SGPC.
“Golden Temple is open to all communities. It has been a symbol of peace for centuries. Millions visit it in search of solace and millions get inspired by the peaceful atmosphere over there. The character of Bhindranwale, as we know it, is inconsistent with the nature of that place. Therefore we find it very inappropriate that the picture or statue or any type of memorial is put on display there. So we have appealed that the picture be taken off. Ultimately the decision has to be taken by SGPC and we have appealed to them to review their decision,” he says.