New Delhi: Former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's assassins were eulogised as "martyrs" and their families honoured at a function attended by Akali Dal leaders here on Sunday.
Held under the aegis of the Sikh Student's Federation at Moti Bagh Gurdwara here, the event saw a 'bhog' being organised "in the memory" of Gandhi's killers Kehar Singh, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh, and recitation of the 'Akhand Path'.
The ceremony witnessed the assassins of the former PM being described as "martyrs of the Sikh Panth". Head granthi or priests of the gurdwara later presented "siropas" (robe of honour) to the widow of Kehar Singh, who resides in Delhi.
Present at the bhog was former Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) chief Avtar Singh Hit, chairman of "Dharam Prachar committee" of DSGMC Paramjit Singh?and Sikh Students Federation president Gurmeet Singh.
"The Akali Takht, which is the highest temporal seat of Sikhs, has already declared Beant Singh, Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh as 'shaheeds' (martyrs) and we are only commemorating their death anniversary," Gurmeet Singh said.
Parminder Pal Singh, spokesperson of Delhi unit of Shiromani Akali Dal and DSGMC said, "The speakers at the bhog ceremony eulogised Kehar Singh, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh for their supreme sacrifice for the Sikh panth... People also said if Nathuram Godse's anniversary can be celebrated by Hindu Mahasabha why can't the Sikhs mark the death anniversary" of the three.
Asked about the event, Manjit Singh GK, who heads the the SAD's Delhi unit and DSGMC said, "They were not crimials or terrorists.... It is the natural right of a person that their last rites are performed as per their religious beliefs."
He added that though the court sentenced them to death, the Sikh community is still waiting for justice for 1984 anti-Sikh riots that followed Indira Gandhi's assassination. Though the DSGMC lent support to the event, GK was not present there.
Shiromani Akali Dal is part of the ruling alliance with BJP in Punjab which goes to polls in early 2017. BJP had in the past objected to Gandhi's killers being honoured.
Both Satwant Singh and co-conspirator Kehar Singh were hanged on January 6 for Gandhi's death. Beant Singh was shot dead at the time of assassination on October 31.