CHANDIGARH: Better late than never. The Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Badal, who is also heading the home portfolio, has done well by clarifying that the Operation Bluestar memorial will be a Gurdwara and not a monument. The Deputy Chief Minister also made it categorically clear that there will only be the Holy Guru Granth Sahib inside the Gurdwara and no pictures or names of anyone.
The assertion, rather clarification, from no less a person than the Deputy Chief Minister himself should ideally set to rest all the controversies surrounding the issue. However, the Deputy Chief Minister would have done better had he or his father and the Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal clarified it much earlier. Both the Chief Minister as well as the Deputy Chief Minister had continuously been maintaining that they had nothing to do with the memorial as it was being set up by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) which is an autonomous body.
Given the fact that the SGPC has given the responsibility of the construction of the memorial to the radical organization Damdami Taksal, there were genuine concerns among different sections of the people. The past experience has been that the radicals have used the places of worship for their political and violent ends. And there is no guarantee that the same may not be repeated again particularly when the Gurdwara, is being constructed for a specific purpose as a memorial to the Operation Bluestar.
Now it is the responsibility of the government in general and the Shiromani Akali Dal, which controls the SGPC, in particular to ensure that the Gurdwara remains so and is not used to fan and inflame the extremists and sectarian passions. Operation Bluestar is indeed a great tragedy which is difficult to be forgotten. Whether there is a memorial to it or not, this tragic memory is bound to stay enshrined in the minds of people and the generations to come. The SGPC should now spell out as who shall be in control of the “memorial Gurdwara” and who will administer it, lest it goes into those hands which can manipulate and misuse it.
All the political parties at the same time should better exercise restraint while commenting about it and their comments and observations must not be driven by the political and partisan considerations. There are so many other issues prevailing in Punjab they can take mileage from and keep the memorial issue aside. Whether somebody accepts it or not, the truth is that there is a widespread approval for the memorial and that must not be equated with support for any radical ideology, much less Khalistan.
Unfortunately, the Operation Bluestar commander General Kuldeep Singh Brar also tried to give wrong interpretation to the attack on him. That it was a terrorist attack aimed at his life and planed by pro-Khalistan elements is an undisputable fact, but to attribute it to the setting up of the Bluestar Memorial sounds little unconvincing. And this was not the first attack on General Brar as there were seven or eight attempts earlier also when there was no such memorial being set up.
Operation Bluestar memorial is now an accepted fact, it is better not to politicize it and exercise restraint while commenting on it, lest it becomes a sectarian issue and spirals out of control.