Khalistan slogans raised, death row convict "honoured"
Amritsar: Amidst separatist slogans and "honouring" of death row convict Balwant Singh Rajoana, the 28th anniversary of Operation Bluestar to flush out militants from Sikh holy shrine the Golden Temple, was on Wednesday observed at Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat, an event from which Punjab`s ruling Shiromani Akali Dal kept away.
The event passed off peacefully to mark the occasion, bricks for a controversial memorial for those who were killed in the operation by security forces were laid by the five Sikh head priests along with Jatehedar Akal Takht Gyani Gurbachan Singh and SGPC President Avtar Singh Makkar.
Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal distanced himself and the state government from construction of the Operation Blue Star` memorial in Amritsar by radical Sikhs while Congress warned him against "playing with peace" in the state.
The Operation Blue Star was launched by the army on this day in 1984 to flush out holed-up Sikh militants led by their leader Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale who was killed along with his associates in the Golden Temple.
The family members of Bhindrawale were also honoured by Jatehdar Akal Takht.
SGPC and Jatehdar Akal Takht conferred the title of living martyr to Balwant Singh Rajona who has been convicted for killing former Punjab Chief Minister Beant Singh and sentenced to death, a punishment upheld by the Supreme Court also.
The title was received by Kamaldeep Kaur, sister of Rajoana.
During a religious function at the Golden Temple, Jathedar Akal Takht Gyani Gurbachan Singh, addressing devotees, said the "Sikh community all over the world remember the unhealed wounds of Operation Blue Star".
As soon as the Jathedar concluded his speech, former member of parliament and president Shriomani Akali Dal (Amritsar) Simranjit Singh Mann raised slogans for Khalisthan and he was then joined by his handful of supporters present in the periphery of the Golden Temple.
A posse of the task force of SGPC and policemen in mufti, who were present, watched the developments and no attempt was made to stop anybody from raising pro-Khalisthan slogans.
Mann said "the wounds of operation Blue Star at Golden Temple are still unhealed".
Sukhbir told reporters in Ludhiana that the state government had nothing to do with the memorial project.
He said it was a project of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee (SGPC) and Damdmi Taksal (a radical Sikh group) which are constructing the memorial for those who were killed during the Operation Bluestar by security forces to flush out militants from the Golden Temple in Amritsar in June 1984.
BJP, an alliance partner in the state government led by SAD, has opposed the memorial saying such a move could encourage hardliners in the state.
Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee President Amarinder Singh warned Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir against "playing with peace" in Punjab.
"Punjab has suffered a lot and let us not take the state back to the dark days", he told a press conference in Jalandhar during his campaign tour for civic body elections.
He also condemned the glorification of the Balwant Singh Rajoana, convicted for assassination of former Chief Minister Beant Singh.
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