Tribune News Service
Karnal, October 10
From a solitary poster placed inconspicuously in a corner of a local gurdwara, Khalistan idealogue Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale’s posters now adorn the facades and walls of nearly all gurdwaras in Karnal district.
These posters seem to be the Sikh community’s reply to Chief Minister ML Khattar’s “slight” after he cancelled his visit to Raj Kareyga Khalsa Gurdwara in Dachar on September 28.
Scheduled to pay obeisance during the annual ‘naam simran’, which concludes on October 27, Khattar abandoned the visit on the grounds that Bhindranwale’s picture stood in one corner of the langar hall and sought that it be removed. The gurdwara committee, that had made arrangements for 100 siropas (robe of honour) and 30 kirpans, was deeply disappointed.
“The CM’s staff told us that he would have kheer (rice pudding) made of jaggery instead of sugar. Nearly one lakh devotees were eagerly awaiting his arrival. But he chose to spurn our love and respect,” rued Sarabjit Singh, a sewadar.
Piqued, the ‘sangat’ has now put up Bhindranwale’s posters across all gurdwaras in the district. The Nissing gurdwara’s main entrance has three posters of Bhindranwale. Dera Kar Sewa Gurdwara, Manjhi Sahib Gurdwara and Gurdwara Singh Sabha in Karnal city too have displayed his posters prominently.
In Assandh’s Shekhpura, a few youngsters have mounted these on electricity poles and wherever they could. The community has announced Khattar’s boycott as also that of the BJP.
"The CM refused to visit the Dachar gurdwara because of one poster. He has disrespected us. This is our way of hitting back,” said Jatinder Singh Virk of Gobindgarh.
The Sikh clergy believes the controversy is entirely of the CM’s making. “The Akal Takht recognises Bhindranwale as a martyr. There is a memorial in the Golden Temple complex in honour of those killed during Operation Bluestar. Foreign dignitaries and political leaders from all parties and castes have had no hesitation going there. What was the CM’s objection, is not clear. He could have simply come, offered prayers and returned,” remarked Baba Gurmeet Singh of the Dachar gurdwara.
Gurtej Singh Khalsa, one of the members of the delegation that went to meet Khattar when invited for talks on the matter, did not rule out the conspiracy angle. “Ill-informed, the CM ended up humiliating and antagonising the community.”
The Chief Minister’s media adviser, Rajiv Jain, said the CM had already explained on several occasions that Bhindranwale’s poster at the gurdwara premises was the reason for his keeping away. “There is nothing more to it.”