37th anniversary of Operation Blue Star: Damdami Taksal’s research for memorial project reflects lack of info on devotees killed

Despite the long history of politics over the issue, no Sikh body has accurate data on those killed during the operation.

THE DAMDAMI Taksal, which is working on a ‘memorial gallery’ on the premises of the Golden Temple in Amritsar to honour those who perished during Operation Blue Star, has managed to collect information of around 900 people, most of whom are militants, with hardly any data on devotees who were killed at the time.

Despite the long history of politics over the issue, no Sikh body has accurate data on those killed during the operation.

“We have around 900 names so far. Around 80 per cent of these are Sikh fighters. We have managed to collect around 600 pictures of those killed inside Golden Temple. These pictures will be displayed in the gallery,” said Sarchand Singh, spokesperson of the Damdami Taksal.

Asked how many devotees were killed during the operation, he put the approximate number at 3,000.

“It was very difficult to collect data about those who were killed inside the temple…there is no good source to identify all. Earlier, a directory of 220 Sikh fighters were available, but we managed to collect 900 names. Around 80 per cent of these were Sikh fighters. But we know that there were more devotees and fighters. We hope their relatives will come forward with names and pictures. So far we have collected 600 pictures.”

A gurdwara called ‘Operation Blue Star Memorial’, was constructed in the Golden Temple premises in 2013 and the new gallery will come up in the basement of this memorial.

In 2011, there was hue and cry when plans for the memorial were announced, and the matter became a major issue during the 2014 parliamentary elections. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) had in 2017 permitted the Damdami Taksal to start the construction work on the memorial gallery.

The Damdami Taksal plans to set up a multimedia supported gallery to display pictures and paintings of those died
during Operation Blue Star. However, in the past four years, it has managed to collect only pictures.

“In the first phase, we will display pictures. Multimedia work will come in the next phase. No work could be done for the last one year due to Covid-19,” said Sarchand on the delay in construction.
He further said: “We will try to use all available media tools to explain what happened in 1984 during Operation Blue Star and why it happened…”

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