Paintings of former prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru were mysteriously removed from an exhibition on the history of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), set up in front of the Manji Sahib Diwan Hall, just outside the Golden Temple premises.
Celebrating 100 years of its foundation, the SGPC had invited 32 artists to make paintings depicting Sikh history. Three of these paintings were related to Nehru. The exhibition had begun on November 13.
Two of the paintings were on Nehru’s arrest during ‘Jaito Da Morcha’, and one depicted tall Sikh leader Teja Singh Samundri with Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Patel and Subhash Chandra Bose.
These three paintings were works of artists Gurpreet Singh Namdhari, Balwinder Sharma and Gopal Sharma.
“SGPC had asked us to make one painting each. I was given the topic of the arrest of Nehru during the ‘Jaito Da Morcha’,” said Gurpreet Singh Namdhari, who was honoured by SGPC president Gobind Singh Longowal for the painting at a function last week.
“I was told that it is written in the autobiography of Nehru that he couldn’t sleep in jail as there were cockroaches there. So I was asked to recreate that scene,” said Gopal Sharma.
Balwinder Sharma said, “Congress had published a poster of its tall leaders in which Teja Singh was also depicted. He was first the SGPC president. They want me to recreate poster. But the poster had a tone of Hindi mythology. So I recreated the poster by excluding the mythology. The objective of the painting is to show that Teja Singh was among the tall leaders of Congress.”
The exhibition was the idea of former All India Sikh Student leader Harvinder Singh Khalsa, who said he was not aware about the removal of the Nehru’s paintings. The three paintings are no longer on display, but have been placed at the back in foldings.
Asked about the paintings, SGPC’s public relations officer Harbhajan Singh said, “I don’t know if any painting was removed. It must be due to the rain that the paintings were reinstalled and maybe some were not put back on their places.”
However, Nehru’s paintings at the SGPC exhibition had invited the wrath of some Sikhs on social media. Sources said SGPC was avoiding a controversy, because the Shiromani Akali Dal’s politics and Congress are political opponents.
“It was not possible for Congress to organise any gathering in Punjab without the support of Akalis. So it was obvious that Teja Singh was treated equal to other tall leaders of that time by the Congress in its poster. Nehru had written in his autobiography that he was troubled by cockroaches in jail, but at the same time he was astonished how even Sikh children were bearing the torture caused by British during the gurdwaras free movement. I don’t know why SGPC removed Nehru’s pictures. I am getting calls from SGPC officials that the exhibition has been a great success,” said Khalsa.
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