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It's Official, Bhindranwale Is Dead

The following report fails to clarify that Damdami Taksal's current chief, Harnam Singh Dhumma, only recently assumed leadership upon the death in late 2004 of Thakur Singh, who was acting chief since Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale's death during Operation Bluestar in early June 1984.

Deccan Herald, Chandigarh, May 27, 2005

Photo: Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale at the Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple, Amritsar, Punjab) with his entourage

The Sikh seminary has finally put the lid on rumours that the militant leader was alive.

Sikh seminary Damdami Taksal which has assiduously endeavoured to keep alive the legacy of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale - the dreaded militant ideologue who inspired a wave of militancy in Punjab in the 1980s - has finally declared him a martyr.

Though Bhindranwale was killed in the 1984 Army operation in the Golden Temple, where he and his loyalist band of heavily-armed cohorts had taken shelter, the Damdami Taksal which Bhindranwale headed maintained the myth that he was alive and would return one day.

However, the Taksal itself ended on Wednesday the controversy which it stretched for nearly 21 years by electing its 'acting chief' Baba Harnam Singh Dhumma as its 15th full-fledged head. He has been an acting chief so far in consonance with the Taksal's belief that Bhindranwale, its 14th head, would return one day to assume charge.

Bhindranwale's widow Pritam Kaur and younger son Inderjit Singh were among those who participated in the ceremony to formally install Dhumma.

Myth of Bhindranwale

The body of Bhindranwale, who led the militants' resistance against the Army action in the Golden Temple in an operation code-named Operation Bluestar, had been identified by his brother Harcharan Singh Rode on June 6, 1984. However, some people perpetuated the myth that he was alive, which was extended by the Taksal. In fact, the Taksal used to hold a congregation every year to pray for his long life.

Two years ago, the Akal Takht jathedar, supreme temporal seat for the Sikhs, had declared Bhindranwale as a 'martyr' in the presence of the latter's elder son Ishar Singh. However, the Taksal authorities had refused to accept his death.

While the operation [Bluestar] was successful, the Sikh sentiments were grievously hurt as they saw enormous damage to their holiest shrine.