Jammu: Thirty-one years after he was killed in ‘Operation Blue Star’ in Amritsar, Punjab, separatist militant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale is still regarded as a martyr and ‘sant’ by Sikhs living in Jammu.
Sant Tejwant Singh, the chief Sikh priest at Dana Singh Gurdwara Sahib in the Sikh-dominated Nanak Nagar area of Jammu city, strongly believes Bhindranwale was a sant (saint) and martyr of the Khalsa Pant.
“He sacrificed his life for the Sikh Pant. He was a sant who deserves all respect and honour from the Sikh community,” Sant Tejwant Singh told Media Sources. Around 300,000 Sikhs live in the Jammu region.
Asked why did the militant Sikh leader gather arms inside the Golden Temple in Amritsar, he said: “It was the government that allowed free passage of arms into the Golden Temple.”
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Hundreds of Sikhs earlier this week protested over the removal of posters of Bhindranwale in Jammu. Life began limping back to normalcy on Saturday as the authorities withdrew the army from areas that saw street protests.
Sant Tejwant Singh said Bhindranwale lives in the hearts and minds of the community, and blamed the state administration for inciting trouble by removing his posters.
“Bhindranwale will always be regarded as a sant because the Akal Takht decreed that he was martyred for the Guru’s cause,” he said.
However, what was intriguing during the three-day protests in Jammu city was not that angry Sikhs raised pro-Khalistan slogans, but pro-Pakistan slogans at some places.
Senior journalist Harbans Nagokay said it was “mere anger that prompted some Sikh youths to raise pro-Pakistan slogans”.
“Nobody should try to read too much into this. Sikhs have always been in the forefront of protecting India’s honour in wars against Pakistan,” he said.