Wellington, Feb 13: In what trigger off agitation in India, the New Zealand's largest Sikh temple has decided to honor the killers of the assassinated prime minister Indira Gandhi, media report said.
The decision has drawn the ire of the some members of the Indian community in Auckland as the temple in Manukau adorns its walls with the portraits of Indira Gandhi's bodyguards,Satwant Singh and Beant Singh, who were killed after they pumped 30 bullets into Gandhi's limp body in 1984, along with co-conspirator Kehar Singh, a newspaper report said.
The decision has brought mixed response from Sikh community and the other Indians New Zealand's largest city.
The paper quoted Veer Khar's, general secretary of the New Zealand Indian Central Association displeasure over the temple's decision.
"If someone wants to honor a terrorist, that's an individual choice. But to put them up in a public place, as a community we totally condemn such an activity," Khar said.
Khar added that although the pain inflicted against the Sikh communities cannot be forgotten, hailing the assassinators was unacceptable as well.
"We sympathise with the pain, we don't deny that those things happened," he said. "We want to say that we have to move on in life."
However, the decision has won the support of Ranvir Lali Singh, a Sikh, involved with the temple for 15 years, who said that a person who dies in the name of religion deserves to be labeled as a martyr.
"We don't consider those who killed Indira Gandhi as terrorists, they are our martyrs," he said. "She was killed by her Sikh bodyguards as revenge for her attack on the Golden Temple, our holiest shrine, and for that, we consider them our martyrs. There is nothing wrong."
Meanwhile, spokesman for India's senior diplomat in New Zealand, High Commissioner Sureesh Mehta without making further comment has termed the issue as sensitive.