On June 14, Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) installed a portrait of Dilawar Singh, the assassin of former Chief Minister of Punjab Beant Singh, at the Central Sikh Museum that is located inside Harmandir Sahib Complex. SGPC president Advocate S Harjinder Singh, a family of Dilawar Singh and other office bearers were present at the ceremony.
ਸ੍ਰੀ ਅਕਾਲ ਤਖ਼ਤ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਦੇ ਸਾਬਕਾ ਹੈੱਡ ਗ੍ਰੰਥੀ ਗਿਆਨੀ ਭਗਵਾਨ ਸਿੰਘ ਜੀ ਤੇ ਕੌਮੀ ਸ਼ਹੀਦ ਭਾਈ ਦਿਲਾਵਰ ਸਿੰਘ ਜੀ ਦੀਆਂ ਤਸਵੀਰਾਂ ਅੱਜ ਸ਼੍ਰੋਮਣੀ ਗੁ: ਪ੍ਰ: ਕਮੇਟੀ ਵੱਲੋਂ ਕੇਂਦਰੀ ਸਿੱਖ ਅਜਾਇਬ ਘਰ, ਸ੍ਰੀ ਦਰਬਾਰ ਸਾਹਿਬ ਵਿਖੇ ਸੁਸ਼ੋਭਿਤ ਕੀਤੀਆਂ ਗਈਆਂ। ਇਸ ਮੌਕੇ ਉਨ੍ਹਾਂ ਦੇ ਪਰਿਵਾਰਾਂ ਨੂੰ ਸਿਰੋਪਾਓ ਦੇ ਕੇ ਸਨਮਾਨਿਆ ਗਿਆ। pic.twitter.com/9egt8hFKyQ— Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) (@SGPCAmritsar) June 14, 2022
Speaking at the ceremony, SGPC President praised Dilawar Singh and said, “Shaheed Bhai Dilawar Singh had put an end to the atrocities and gross human rights violations committed against the Sikhs then. The decision of sacrificing self is not possible without the Guru’s blessing, and whenever atrocities were committed on the Qaum (community/nation), Sikhs have always made history by making sacrifices.”
In a tweet, SGPC said, “He took birth at the house of his father S Harnek Singh and mother, Surjit Kaur at maternal village Panjgrain in Faridkot. After education, he joined Punjab Police, and for his sacrifice, he was recognised with the title of ‘Qaumi Shaheed’ by Sri Akal Takht Sahib.”
He took birth at the house of his father S. Harnek Singh & mother Surjit Kaur at maternal village Panjgrain in Faridkot. After education, he joined Punjab Police & for his sacrifice, he was recognised with the title of ‘Qaumi Shaheed’ by Sri Akal Takht Sahib.— Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) (@SGPCAmritsar) June 14, 2022
SGPC’s move came when co-accused of Beant Singh’s murder, Balwant Singh Rajona’s sister Kamaldeep Kaur is contesting Lok Sabha by-poll on a Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) ticket from Sangrur. The Sangrur Lok Sabha seat fell vacant after Bhagwant Mann resigned from there, having won the Dhuri assembly constituency in this year’s Punjab assembly elections. Kaur met her brother in the Patiala Central Jail before her name was announced as the candidate.
Who was Dilawar Singh?
Dilawar Singh Babbar, aka Dilawar Singh Jaisinghvala, was born on August 18, 1970, at village Panjgrain in district Faridkot, Punjab. His father’s name was Sardar Harnek Singh, who was a government employee. His mother’s name was Surjit Kaur. Dilawar Singh joined Punjab Police after completing his studies. During the insurgency, the Congress-led Punjab Government and Central government were accused of atrocities against Sikhs in Punjab.
While serving for Punjab Police, Dilawar joined Khalistani terrorist organisation Babbar Khalsa and conspired with another member of Babbar Khalsa, Balwant Singh Rajoana, to kill then-Chief Minister of Punjab, Beant Singh. Rajoana was also a serving Punjab Police officer. Dilawar reportedly volunteered to become a suicide bomber to kill CM Singh.
On August 31, 1995, at around 5 PM, Dilawar Singh blew up the bullet-proof car of Beant Singh at Punjab and Haryana Civil Secretariat Chandigarh. Along with CM Singh, Dilawar Singh and 17 others were killed in the blast. Two years later, on December 25, 1997, Rajoana confessed his involvement in the case, and while doing so, he blamed Punjab and the Central government for atrocities against Sikhs in Punjab. Rajoana was given the death sentence for his involvement in the assassination of CM Singh.
Dilawar Singh’s death anniversary is celebrated by his followers every year in India and abroad. On March 23, 2012, he was awarded the title of ‘National Martyr’ by Akal Takht. It is the highest award or the temporal seat of the Khalsa. His parents were honoured by The Khalsa Action Committee with the Shaheed Baba Deep Singh gold medal at a function in the city of Amritsar, and Dilawar Singh was awarded the title ‘pride of the nation’.
The politics around portraits of Sikh terrorists at the Museum
Dilawar Singh is not the first Khalistani Sikh terrorist whose portrait is on display in the Museum at the Golden Temple. Portraits of Khalistani terrorists who were killed in Operation Blue Star, including Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, Amrik Singh and General Shabeg Singh, along with Sukhdev Singh Sukha and Harjinder Singh Jinda, who assassinated General AS Vaidya, were installed by SGPC over the years.
The radical Sikh groups have been demanding the installation of Dilawar’s portrait in the Museum. Akal Takht, that celebrates his death anniversary every year also demanded the same. The recent step is being seen in the line of SAD’s announcement of fielding Rajoana’s sister Kamaldeep Kaur from the Sangrur Lok Sabha bypoll that is scheduled for June 23. Reports suggest the SAD-BSP alliance would seek a vote in support of the immediate release of Sikh prisoners, including Rajoana and Jagtar Singh Hawara, another convict in the assassination case.
Could the absence of Sahajdhari Sikhs from SGPC be helping radicals?
Several netizens have pointed out that barring Sahajdhari Sikhs from voting in SGPC elections could have helped radicals to overtake the decision process of installing such portraits in the Museum. Columnist Divya Kumar Soti said on Twitter, “Result of excluding Sahajdhari Sikhs from SGPC,” while quoting a report of the installation of Dilawar’s poster in the Museum.
Result of excluding Sahajdhari Sikhs from SGPC. https://t.co/vTVtmMyVv3— Divya Kumar Soti (@DivyaSoti) June 14, 2022
Speaking to OpIndia, Paramjeet Singh Ranu, National President, Sehajdhari Sikh Party, said, “When a political party is formed, we take oath at Election Commission that we will not participate or support in any anti-national activity. Killing a sitting CM is an anti-national act. Sahajdhari Sikhs Party will never support promoting such elements who had participated in anti-national activities. SGPC is a religious body. They should stay away from such activities that may cause instability in the already tense situation in Punjab because of radicals and Khalistanis.”
Contrary to these two statements, several netizens pointed in comments to Soti’s post that if Sahajdharis were in a position to install Dilawar’s poster, they would have done it in 1995 itself.
Who are Sahajdhari Sikhs?
In simple words, a Sahajdhari Sikh is a person who follows the path of Sikhism but has not yet become Amritdhari. A Sahajdhari does not wear the Five Symbols of Sikhism, also known as the Five Ks, which are Kesh (uncut hair), Kara (a steel bracelet), Kanga (a wooden comb), Kaccha (cotton underwear) and Kirpan (steel sword). Many Sahajdhari Sikhs cut their hair and/or trim their beard. However, they would not touch tobacco and strictly avoid eating Halal meat.
Sehajdhari Sikhs were barred from voting in SGPC elections by amending Gurdwara Act, 1925 in 2016. Sehajdhari Sikhs, since the amendment, have been fighting for their right to vote in SGPC elections.