Chandigarh: The Akalis have sparked off a controversy on the 28th anniversary of Operation Blue Star by raising a memorial for militants killed in the operation and honouring former chief minister Beant Singh's assassin Balwant Singh Rajoana.
The memorial inside the Golden Temple complex glorifies militant leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and Maj Gen Shabeg Singh, among others, killed in the operation. The Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) dominated by the Akali Dal says the memorial serves a historic purpose. "The Indian government shelled the Golden Temple. Bhindranwale and others became martyrs," says SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar.
Apart from this, the Akalis have also honoured Rajoana with the title of a living martyr. This has evoked a strong protest even from Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)'s ally the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). However, the Punjab government justifies it. "The memorial is for all those who died during Blue Star, there were thousands of people inside the Golden Temple then," says Deputy Punjab Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal.
Amid all the politics, there are many who are seeking closure from the horrific episode of 1984 that left in its wake a trail of death, destruction and revenge. Pakistan-trained militant Satnam Singh Satta triggered twin blasts at the Jalandhar bus-stand in 2006 killing three people. A Khalistan Zindabad Force operative, Satta, admitted that the blasts were his way of avenging the 1984 riots.
Punjab Police recently nabbed two terrorists near Jalandhar with a haul of RDX, weapons and ammunition. Sociologists, meanwhile, blame the SGPC and the Akali Dal for mixing religion and politics. The mash-up, they fear is a regressive step.
"As people will keep seeing what and how things have been done regarding the Operation Blue Star, the religious fundamentalism is only more encouraged," says Panjab University's Sociology Professor Manjeet Singh.