Even as the Sikh bodies have been opposing its plan of demolishing Sri Darbar Sahib’s sarai Guru Ram Diwas Niwas, where many of the Sikhs were martyred and brutalized by the Indian army during its attack on the holiest Sikh shrine in June 1984, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) is going ahead with this plan with minor change in its original proposal.
During the meeting of its executive committee, the gurdwara body resolved to raze the entire building barring its front that will remain intact in memory of those killed by the Indian army during the attack.
After the meeting presided over by her, the SGPC president Jagir Kaur said the SGPC would soon construct new Sarais to extend the accommodation facility to the pilgrims visiting Sri Harmandar Sahib.
“New rooms will be constructed on the site of Guru Ramdas Sarai to replace the unusable rooms, but the exterior will be maintained intact. Many Sikhs were martyred in Guru Ramdas Sarai during the June 1984 holocaust and their names along with photographs would be inscribed in a suitable manner to commemorate them. Moreover, the rooms of all the other sarais in the complex including Mata Ganga Niwas, Guru Hargobind Niwas and Guru Arjan Dev Niwas will also be renovated as requirement”, said SGPC president Bibi Jagir Kaur.
However, the experts said there was no need to dismantle the building which is very strong and can last for 100 years more.
Officials of the building department of the SGPC said that the 83-year-old serai, spread over the around 45,000 square feet area, has 250 rooms. However, around 100 rooms are being used by the SGPC as stores and a few for administrative purpose, as per a story published by English Daily Hindustan Times in 2018.
This is the only serai of the Golden Temple which provides accommodation to devotee free of cost. So, this serai caters to the ordinary devotees, who cannot afford to book paid rooms in other serais. It has a huge courtyard, which is also used to accommodate the sangat when all the rooms are booked.
Regarding the old building structures found during the excavation for a new jora ghar and two-wheeler parking being constructed outside Sri Darbar Sahib complex, the SGPC president said, “A team from the Archaeological Department has today visited the site and if it is related to the Sikh history, it will be preserved. This Galiara was constructed by the then Centre government after the 1984 military attack by acquiring and demolishing the houses and shops of the people settled here. There should be no politics in this matter as the SGPC is acting cautiously as a responsible body.”
A resolution was also passed in the meeting that approved the display of the portraits of former Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, former head granthi Giani Bhagwan Singh and former vice-president Dalip Singh Malunangal in the Central Sikh Museum. A resolution to thank Giani Mohan Singh, former head granthi of Sachkhand Sri Harmandar Sahib was also passed for naming his house to Sri Darbar Sahib.
SGPC’s EC also passed condolences resolutions to pay tributes to the departed souls including Sikh scholar Dr Jodh Singh and the flying Sikh Milkha Singh.