Panchkula: A gurdwara here is in the midst of a row over its refusal to hold a prayer service for a decorated former army general as he had participated in Operation Bluestar, the June 1984 action to flush out heavily-armed terrorists from the Golden Temple.
The Singh Sabha Gurdwara in Sector 7 of this Haryana town, adjoining Chandigarh, declined to entertain a request by the family of Lt. Gen. R.S. Dyal to hold a prayer service on his first death anniversary this month. The refusal was conveyed Dec 30 to Gen. Dyal’s widow Barinder Kaur Dyal.
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), which controls management of gudwaras in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, has controversially backed the refusal of the Panchkula Gurdwara, saying it was the “right thing to do”.
A 1965 India-Pakistan war hero, Gen. Dyal was the chief of staff of the Western Command headquarters at Chandimandir Cantt. near here when the Operation Bluestar was carried out in June 1984 in Amritsar. The Golden Temple complex, except for the sanctum sanctorum, then suffered heavy damage.
“When the family approached the gurdwara for his prayer service, the management said that it could not give permission as there was objection from certain sections of the Sikh community over his role in Operation Bluestar. They said that he (Gen. Dyal) should have quit the army instead of leading the attack on the Golden Temple,” a family source said here Monday.
When Gen. Dyal, who had Z-plus category security, died in January last year, the family had organised his prayer service at the same gurdwara.
“This time, the gurdwara management refused to hold the prayers for his first death anniversary, saying that some sections of the community had objected to it,” the family source said.
Defence analyst Mandeep Singh Bajwa said: “This is very sad and deplorable. Why should soldiers have to pay for the decisions of their political masters? All Sikhs have equal right to religious services. I condemn it in the strongest possible words. The religious authorities should not intrude into the daily lives of people.”
A defiant SGPC president Avtar Singh Makkar said: “If the gurdwara management has taken this decision, they must have given a thought to it. The Golden Temple is the most sacred shrine of Sikhs. Dyal led the forces, saying that he was duty-bound. He should have realised that this was his religion’s most sacred place.”
“Usne prayer kya karani jisne guru (Guru Granth Sahib) ki chhati mein goli lagayi hui hai (Why should he (Dyal) have a prayer service when he has shot the guru in the chest). We have the Guru Granth Sahib with the bullet. He led the forces in doing that,” Makkar said, dismissing the plea of the family of Gen. Dyal.
Decorated with the Maha Vir Chakra (MVC), the country’s second highest gallantry award during war-time, Gen. Dyal was known as the hero of the capture of the Haji Pir Pass in Jammu and Kashmir in 1965.