For the first time in over two decades, there will be no ceremonial lighting and fireworks at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on the occasion of Diwali even as Sikh bodies have decided to take their protest against alleged desecretion of the Guru Granth Sahib to Delhi.
“Incidents of sacrilege of the holy book have hurt Sikh sentiments so much that illumination and fireworks will be kept a low-key affair,” said Avtar Singh Makkar, president of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee (SGPC).
Diwali also marks the Bandi Chhor Diwas, and with spectacular fireworks and lighting, the event attracts tourists from across the world to the Golden Temple. The last time no celebration was held on this day was in 1992 when Harjinder Singh Jinda and Sukhdev Singh Sukha, the two assassins of General A.S. Vaidya were hanged. Before this, a “Black Diwali” was observed in 1984, the year when Operation Bluestar was conducted by the Indian Army to flush out militants from the Golden Temple. The SGPC chief said that the Sikh community has been told to show solidarity on the occasion and not indulge in extravagant celebrations. While protests have considerably dwindled in Punjab, Sikh outfits are clearly dissatisfied with the steps taken by the government. This week, a delegation of Damdami Taksal and Sant Samaj met Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and sought the removal of Takht jathedars as also arrests of all those involved in incidents of desecration. They, however, seemed pleased with the Badals for shifting state DGP Sumedh Singh Saini. The delegation said they wanted action against all other police officers involved in firing at protesters. Meanwhile, different Sikh organisations have decided to take their protest against incidents of sacrilege to the national capital. All India Sikh Students’ Federation chief Karnail Singh said that the state government had failed to arrest all those behind showing disrespect to the Guru Granth Sahib, and have decided to hold a march in Delhi on 1 November.