Clerics at the Akal Takht, the highest Sikh temporal seat of the Sikhs in the holy city Amritsar, on Sunday honoured the kin of the assassins of former prime minister Indira Gandhi at a ceremony held to mark the anniversary of their hanging on January 6.
The ceremony has been an annual feature at the shrine since over two decades on their death anniversary. Indira Gandhi’s two assassins were declared “quami shaheed” (martyrs of the Sikh community) by the Akal Takht.
Members of the families of assassin Satwant Singh and conspirator Kehar Singh were honoured by the head priest of the Akal Takht Gyani Gurbachan Singh. The priest presented a “siropa” (robe of honour) to Satwant Singh’s father.
Indira Gandhi was killed by Beant Singh, an inspector in the Delhi Police posted in the prime minister’s security, along with another guard Satwant Singh on October 31, 1984. The assassination was carried out to avenge the military action on the Golden Temple in 1984.
Beant Singh was shot dead by other policemen on the spot while Satwant Singh was overpowered by security personnel and arrested. Kehar Singh, a conspirator, was also later arrested. Satwant and Kehar were hanged on January 6, 1989. However, the president and members of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) were not present during the ceremony on Sunday.
The SGPC is planning setting up a memorial for all those who were killed inside the Sikh shrine during the 1984 military action.
Close on the heels of the attack in London on Lt Gen K S Brar, the Army officer who led the Operation Bluestar in June 1984, the SGPC courted controversy last year for honouring the kin of Harjinder Singh Jinda and Sukhdev Singh Sukha on the occasion of their death anniversary. Jinda and Sukh killed Gen A S Vaidya who was the Army chief when the army stormed the Sikh shrine.