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She did Visit but WHY QUEEN KEPT QUIET?


 

She did Visit but  WHY QUEEN KEPT QUIET?


Accompanied  by her husband Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh, the British Queen Elizabeth-ll, visited Amritsar on Oct. 14. Dressed in saffron with a matching hat, she landed at Raja Sansi Airport at 11.30 a.m. where she was received by Governor BKN Chibber, Chief Minister Prakash Singh Badal, SGPC President Gurcharan Singh Tohra and various other bureaucrats.
 Every inch of the 17 km. long route from airport to Golden Temple was lined up with the school children in their respective school uniforms waving Union Jack and Tricolour while their school bands continuously played on. People from the town and nearby areas flocked to have a 'darshan' of the Queen. Near Golden. Temple the Queen was greeted by SGPC staff with saffron flags in their hands. Towards the completion of her itinerary it was mentioned by the accompanying British officials that the public participation was maximum at Amritsar.
 Waving to children on the way Queen arrived straightaway at Jallianwala Bagh by '12.10 pm where she was welcomed by the Secretary of Memorial Trust, S.K. Mukherjee. Notably the Royal Couple removed their shoes to reach the {lame barefoot. They observed two minutes silence as a mark of respect to those who were killed by General Dyer in 1919. The couple signed visitor's book also.
The Duke expressed surprise at the numbers mentioned on a board placed in the Bagh premises exhibiting  the death toll of the Jallianwala massacre at 2000. He remarked that the figure told to him by Dyer's son is much lower. This simple observation  was not well received by the Indian press although it is a fact that the number displayed at Bagh is highly exaggerated. The real toll was 309 killed and about 900 injured. At that time the British Government had appointed a 7 member enquiry  commission which was headgd by Lord Hunter and had 3Indian members. The Commission recommended the dismissal of Dyer.  The matter was also discussed in the British Parliament where Winston Churchill made the most scathing criticism of General Dyer's action - he described it as "an episode which appeared to be without parallel in the modern history of the British Empire. An extraordinary event, a monstrous event, an event which stood in singular and sinister isolation". While General Dyer was sacked the then Governor of Punjab Sir Michael O'Dwyer was later murdered by a Sikh, Udham Singh as a revenge forthe brutal incident. Inspite of all this the some political leaders insisted that the Queen must apologize if she was to visit Amritsar.
 ln a way the Queen did apologize. Speaking at a banquet hosted by the Indian President on October 12, she said, "lt is no secret that there have been some difficult episodes in our past : Jallianwala Bagh, which I shall visit tomorrow, is a  distressing example. But the history cannot be re-written however much we might wish otherwise." She visited the Bagh. Removed her shoes, observed a two minute silence and signed the visitor's book. yet a section of the Indian press expressed their anguish thatthe Queen did not pay a visit to the Durgiana Mandir: an attempted replica of the Golden Temple built around the year 1935.
After spending some 15 minutes in the Bagh the Queen next visited Golden Temple. According to her earlier programme she was scheduled to first visit Golden Temple and then Jallianwala bagh. The last minute change was made on the suggestion of government. On her visit to the Temple she was accompanied by Badal, Gen. Chibber, Tohra and was being briefed by Manjit Singh Calcutta ex-secretary of SGPC and presently a minister in the Badal government. Barnala and Chibber's wife were present too.
It appeared that the Queen was not apprised of the code of conduct to be observed in the Temple complex and if she was briefed it was not insisted upon. She was asked to wear a new pair of socks whereas she could have been willing to go barefoot. Similarly she was not requested to remove her white gloves which appeared awkward. lt is surprising when she could have removed her shoes and stockings at Jallianwala Bagh why she could not do the same at the Temple. lt is quite clear she was not properly explained the rituals related to a gurdwara visit about which .otherwise an intense rigidity is maintained.
 The Royal Couple entered the complex from Ghanta Ghar side and at the very moment she sighted the 'holy temple she bowed thus paying respect in her own way. At the Sanctum sanctorum though she only slightly bowed yet the respect and humilitywas evident from her face. The Royal Couple was presented siropas by the head Granthi, Giani Mohan Singh. The guests there upon visited Akal Takht the temporal seat where they were presented a rosary (simrana of pearl and 'golden beads). The media promptly flashed the photos where simrana was being presented by Jathedar Akal Takht Bhai Ranjit Singh. The ceremony once again raised  curious questions as rosary is not an ideal contrivance in the Sikh spiritualism. In fact the use of rosary amounts to ritualism which has been condemned by the Gurus. (see pages 1 40, 225, 47 0, 47 s, 567, 832, 876, 888, 913, 951, 985, 1035 & 1084 of Guru Granth Sahib). The ceremony thus reflected at the state of affairs in the Panth.
  The Royal couple came out of the complex at about 12.45 pm to attend the reception just outside the Ghanta Ghar. Manjit Singh Calcutta thanked the couple for visiting the Golden Temple. The Queen was presented a gilded model of the Golden Temple by Tohra received while sitting. The Duke too did not get up while receiving the sword of honour presented by Mr. Badal. Those ignorant about the royal traditions termed it as arrogance. Clearly, at this stage also she was not properly briefed since what she was to receive involved a religious sentiment and not some political social or governmental act. She would have readily got and bowed had she been so advised.
  However the reception otherwise reflected the cold chair war that existed within the Badal and Tohra groups. While the Queen was yet to sit in the chair meant for her, Tohra preceded her and sat in the chair next to Queen's. While Badal sat beside Tohra and was, feeling rather humbled. Amarjit Singh D.C then rose to the occasion and whispered in Tohra's ear that he should vacate the chair for Badal. Tohra was sullen.
As per the usual tradition on such receptions the audience waited for a few words from the Queen who however did not speak due to protocol limitations. As a result the audience was disappointed and Sikhs felt humiliated. There are several instances where the foreign dignitaries speak during public felicitations. But the Queen was specifically deprived of it while at Amritsar. As a consequence to it, the Queen's speech at Madras was also cancelled at the last minute causing much annoyance to the British. The Government of India has thus created difficulties for future visits of its leaders who often address the Indians abroad, lt is thus unfortunate that the strict protocol should commence from Amritsar.
It was only after great reluctance the government of India had agreed to the British proposal that the Queen visited Amritsar, that too when the Prime Minister lnder Kumar Gujral's had personally intervened in the issue.
WHY SHE KEPT QUIET From page 5 much embarrassing remarks were made public by a journalist. In fact for a while there were speculations that the Queen may not visit Amritsar at all. Thereafter the Government of India agreed to the Amritsar visit. Had there been no restrictions from the Government of India the Queen was likely to receive much elaborate reception at Khalsa College premises in the presence of a mammoth rally, as was given to the Queen Victoria ll in 1905. The British in fact had the same reception in mind. Thus under the political compulsions what the Queen could do most to assuage the feeling of the Sikhs was by wearing a kesri coloured clothes and the hat.
 The day Queens coterie landed at Delhi on october 12, she was greeted by a few black flags by some Sikhs of the National Akali Dal of Delhi led by some Sarkari Akali of the Rachhpal Singh or Mahant Sewa Das brand. Some vested interests thus did everything possible to give  the impression that the Sikhs were not quite happy over the Queens visit. Every attempt was thus made to give impression that the Sikhs were not happy over Queens visit.
 Similarly protests were also arranged at Amritsar by the CPI(ML) a virtually unknown party in the region through placards saying Killer Queen go back. One of the organisers of  the protests Mr. Datar Singh when queried about  the level at which the decision holding such a protest was taken said that he had received the instructions from Darshan Khatkarh.
 The question remains why the protests were held only at Amritsar and Delhi and not a word was spoken against the Royal couple when they visited Madras. Or why there were no protests on Queens earlier two visits to India.
 An Akali leader Sodhi Balbir Singh says "the Indians have objected to the Queens visit to  lndia  earlier. Why these protests when  was to visit Amritsar. His grudge is as  why the Queen was not allowed to  and why was her programme  rescheduled giving preference to  Jallianwala Bagh over the Golden Temple.  He feels it is a shear humiliation to  Sikhs. We have all regards for the  memorial as well, says Sodhi, "86% the people killed at Bagh were Sikhs.
  Whatever the controversy,  Queen came, people say, and she went  away leaving behind a baffled  and a new set of hue and cry.



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