Kids Corner

Roundtable

1984 -- Thirty Years Later:
Part III
The Roundtable Open Forum # 122

HARTOSH SINGH BAL

 

 

 

Continued From Yesterday …



PART III




IV    As Punjab descended into chaos, president’s rule was imposed in October 1983, and the likelihood of military action against Bhindranwale grew.

Bhindranwale, on the pretext of a quarrel with another armed group in the Darbar Sahib, vacated the Guru Nanak Niwas, located at the southern end of the complex, and moved into the Akal Takht.

Within the government, the search for a solution to the deadlock intensified.

In early 2014, documents declassified by the UK government revealed that Indian intelligence agencies contacted their counterparts in the UK in 1984, seeking advice on how to carry out a commando operation in the Darbar Sahib complex.

Between 8 and 17 February that year, a military adviser from the UK conducted at least one ground-level reconnaissance of the gurdwara complex with Indian operatives. The UK’s cabinet secretary, Jeremy Heywood, who accessed the declassified visit report and assessment, said: “It is clear that the purpose of the visit was to advise Indian Counter Terrorist Team commanders on the concept of operations that they were already working up for action in the temple complex, including tactics and techniques.”

The documents clearly referred to the Special Frontier Force, or “Establishment 22,” a Research and Analysis Wing paramilitary group whose activities are supposed to be classified. The request to the UK for assistance has been reported before, but thanks to the declassification, it can now be confirmed that the police chief Birbal Nath’s account almost perfectly corroborates the chain of events revealed in the UK documents.

“Sant Jarnail Singh and his jatha moved out of the hostel complex and occupied Akal Takht on December 15, 1983,” Nath writes in his book. “Seeing this, a para-military organisation, which always prided itself on secret missions and ultimately let down the Government, came out with a plan to occupy hostel area and the langar, in Golden Temple.”

Nath had two objections to the proposal. “What was the objective? Sant had left. Again one company was too inadequate and would be slaughtered by fire from Akal Takht and adjoining buildings. At last, in mid-February 1984, I was able to have the plan abandoned, and thus saved the para-military force from charges of amateurism and slaughter of their men.”

In May 1984, Nath made what was probably the final attempt by any party to avoid army action. According to him, on the afternoon of 13 May, a Sunday, he was called in to the prime minister’s office for final consultations. He told Gandhi that they did not have to enter the Golden Temple.

“We could deal with Sant Bhindranwale from outside since I knew the topography of the place intimately.”

But he was unable to convince other officials present at the meeting, and the decision to send the army into the Golden Temple was finalised.

“Soon after,” Nath writes, “I learnt that the projection was to clear the Golden Temple of the armed insurgents within four hours. The operation was named Blue Star.”

According to PC Alexander’s memoir, Gandhi made up her mind to summon the army on 25 May, relying on the reassurances of General AS Vaidya, chief of the army staff. Vaidya explained that he would move troops into different locations in Punjab simultaneously, surrounding gurdwaras occupied by extremists and cutting off their supplies and movement. A similar siege would be mounted around the Golden Temple, with a large number of troops.

Alexander writes that Gandhi “repeatedly told the general that in any operation no damage should be done to the temple buildings and particularly to the Harmandar Sahib.”

Vaidya assured her that there would be “a maximum show of force, but a minimum use of it.”

Vaidya met with Gandhi again on 29 May, and suggested some changes in the plan. They would ensure that the gurdwara would not be damaged -- but they would need to enter it. This proposal was the result of Vaidya’s meeting with Lieutenant General K Sundarji, who had direct command of operations.

Alexander writes that Vaidya convinced Gandhi that he had weighed the pros and cons of the plan with his senior colleagues; they had all agreed that a siege would prolong the operation and destabilise the surrounding countryside. A quick entry and surprise attack was the best way to deal with the men inside.

“Vaidya spoke with such confidence and calmness that the new plan he was proposing appeared to be the only option open to the Army,” Alexander writes. “I can definitely state on the basis of the clear knowledge of Indira Gandhi’s thinking at that time that she agreed to the revision of the earlier plan at the eleventh hour strictly on the assurance given to her that the whole operation would be completed swiftly and without any damage to the buildings within the Golden Temple complex.”

*   *   *   *   *

A week later, on the night of 5 June, Lieutenant Colonel Israr Rahim Khan commanded the first batch of troops that stormed the Darbar Sahib complex.

Khan reported directly to Major General K S Brar, who was in overall command of the operation and in touch with Sundarji. (The major general, like Bhindranwale, came from peasant stock, and the two men came from villages close to each other’s, but there the similarities between them ended. Brar came from a military family, and the gulf between him and Bhindranwale was deep.)

When I met him in his home last month, Khan, who retired as a brigadier, at first said he had little to add to Brar’s account of the operation, published in his 1993 book Operation Bluestar --The True Story. I said I wanted to hear a view from the ground, from a soldier who was actually part of the operation.

In spite of his greying hair, it was easy to see in Khan the dashing soldier Brar had sent into the complex. Once he began to speak, it was evident he remembered the action as though it had taken place yesterday.

“From our debussing area, near Jallianwalla Bagh” -- the famous park where the British had conducted their own wholesale massacre of innocents in 1919, was a  short distance away from the Darbar Sahib -- “we were to approach the Darshan Deori, the main entrance. We were in the open, and they” -- Bhindranwale’s men -- “were all secure, with their weapon emplacements in place. There was not an inch of ground in the gully outside the Darshan Deori that was not covered by the firing.”

Shahbeg Singh’s plan of defence for the Darbar Sahib was so effective that, three decades later, Khan recalled it with something like admiration. The complex was guarded by an outer ring of emplacements positioned on the vantage points of its high buildings -- the Hotel Temple View on one side, and the gumbads, or domes, on the other -- and an inner ring on the parikrama, within the temple itself.

At the Darshan Deori, Khan and his men descended the stairs into the complex unaware of loopholes in the walls that had been turned, he said, into “weapon pits.”

“My boys were climbing down the stairs in the darkness, because the electricity was cut. It was totally dark, and we were wondering where this fire was coming from. It takes a little time to think. It was coming from under the stairs.” The bullets hit Khan’s soldiers below the knee. “The boys,” he said, “fell tumbling down.”

The memory made Khan pause. “In which war have we suffered such heavy casualties?” he asked. “From my battalion, in the first hour -- from 10.30 to 11.30 at night -- we had already lost nineteen. In the ’71 war, in Shakargarh sector, I tell you, Hartosh, in the whole ten to fifteen days, my battalion, the 10 Guards, lost four men. What a gruesome battle it was in the Golden Temple.”

The army was hemmed in at close quarters, in a heavily built-up area -- which meant, Khan said, that there was no way collateral damage could be avoided.

“I read somewhere that Mrs Gandhi was told there would be no casualties. No person in the right frame of mind would give such an assurance to the PM.”

If there were any expectations that the security forces would meet no resistance, they were rendered utterly false.

“They knew,” Khan said. “How can you build brick and mortar key emplacements overnight? It was beautifully planned. You could not close up anywhere near the gurdwara without being hit by a bullet.”

 “The commandos were grouped with me. A company each of the SFF” -- the R&AW unit, the Special Frontier Force -- “and 1 Para Commando was grouped with 10 Guards. We were to give them safe passage through the parikrama, until the periphery of the Akal Takht, and they were meant to capture Bhindranwale from the Akal Takht. So I grouped them, with my leading company going ahead. We entered first and made place for them to enter. We gave them a safe corridor through the parikrama till the end. There were twelve rooms in a row; we kept clearing, room by room by room.” Every room was manned.


By 1 am, Khan says, his company had captured the northern wing of the parikrama and opened it up to the special forces, but they were unable to make headway.

“The moment they would close up near the Akal Takht they would come under heavy fire. They were very badly mauled. So they would fall back on the parikrama, and get in touch with Brar to tell him that they had lost so many men.”

“I won’t blame them professionally. Their men were dying, and all the fire was coming at them. But why some other methods were not adopted, or what they had rehearsed, is not known to me.”

At two o’clock in the morning, Brar called.

“He told me on the set: ‘Israr, have a Carl Gustav’”-- an anti-tank missile -- “‘fired at the dome of the Akal Takht and see what effect it has.’ I set up the Carl Gustav myself; I couldn’t take anyone else’s report for granted. From the first floor, which we had captured, I fired a Carl Gustav and -- Hartosh, can you believe it, what a beautiful building it was, that dome was so strong -- it just ricocheted like a .303 bullet being fired into that wall. Even that leaves a one-inch dent; but nothing was visible on that dome.”

Khan radioed back to tell Brar that the missile had had no effect.

“Then I don’t know what transpired between the special forces and Brar, that they found no other way. They were scared that after sunrise, all of Punjab would surround the Golden Temple. So whatever had to be achieved, had to be achieved before dawn. They decided on rolling down three tanks inside, and eventually used the main gun of the tank. It pierced through the dome, and there were gaping holes. That was a horrific sight. My own assessment now is that if the main gun of the tank had not been used, perhaps the Sikh psyche wouldn’t have been hurt so much.”


V

Almost every commitment that Vaidya made to the prime minister went unkept.

The operation took at least a full night; it resulted in the decimation of the Akal Takht; and the casualties far outstripped any estimate Gandhi had been given.

There are still no credible explanations for why no intelligence on the situation was available or forthcoming to the army. Neither are there answers for why the army did not ask for more time to plan, especially as an operation at the Darbar Sahib had been under consideration since February.

In 1984, the day marking the martyrdom of Guru Arjan fell on 3 June, two days before Operation Bluestar began. The choice to begin hostilities on 5 June was highly problematic, because a curfew had been imposed around the complex days before the attack, effectively trapping a large number of pilgrims, who had nothing to do with the defenders, inside the gurdwara.

Over the years, evidence has emerged of crimes committed within the premises by security forces.

Brigadier Onkar Goraya’s 2013 book, Operation Bluestar and After: An Eyewitness Account, provides, for the first time, some clarity on the number of pilgrims inside the complex during the operation.

Goraya, the head of the Admin branch of the 15th Infantry division posted in Punjab, was tasked with “lifting civilian casualties, disposal of the dead and evacuation of the wounded to the hospitals, apprehending the militants, guarding them in make-shift jails in the Cantonment, and arranging for their logistics.”

He placed the casualties, based on the number of bodies disposed, at seven hundred, and stated that another 2,200 persons were rounded up and interned.

Even by the most exaggerated count, Bhindranwale’s men numbered no more than 250.

Were they all counted among the dead, with another hundred from other defenders included for good measure, it would mean that, even by the most conservative estimate, the operation resulted in the deaths of over 350 people who had nothing at all to do with Bhindranwale. Considering that many people slipped out of the complex through the numerous doors leading to alleyways surrounding it, it is safe to say the number of people inside was far higher than the three thousand or so accounted for by the numbers of those dead, injured or captured.

The army has consistently maintained that pilgrims inside the complex were given ample opportunity to leave. But Goraya makes it clear that most never heard the army’s requests to surrender and come out.

A day before the operation began, he found a district administration van outside the complex broadcasting announcements in Punjabi: “All those who are stranded inside the Darbar Sahib complex are requested to come out with their hands raised above their head. They will not be fired at.”

The van was parked eighty yards from the main entrance. “The devotees and pilgrims, for whose benefit the announcements were being made, were well beyond its reach,” Goraya writes.

The scene within the complex after the operation was gruesome. Goraya writes of the stench of rotting bodies in the June heat: the task of disposing of them was so onerous that the municipal workers who eventually cleared them away did so only because they were permitted to strip the bodies of their belongings.

The bodies of Bhindranwale and Shahbeg Singh were recovered from the basement of the Akal Takht on the morning of 7 June, almost two days after the operation began. Bhindranwale’s body was identified by his brother and quickly cremated in the presence of a few officers and jawans.

Goraya’s book confirms an allegation of long standing: that security forces shot at least a few men in cold blood. Evidence has already been published of at least one execution: a 2006 book by Harminder Kaur contains the post-mortem report of a young man shot through the chest with his hands tied behind his back. Goraya’s story strengthens the claim that there were multiple killings of this kind.

“On 7th June, around mid-day, I saw about 90 detainees sitting on the hot marble floor of the Southern wing of Parikrama,” he writes. “They were naked except for the long underwear and their hands were tied behind their backs.

“Most of them appeared to be militants. Though subjugated they retained their defiant spirit. Instead of looking down, some of them dared to look into the eyes of their captors. A second Lieutenant of the unit who had fought these militants the previous night and lost a few comrades, could not stomach such defiance. When he asked them to look down one of them spat at him. The officer lost his cool and shot him in the forehead.”

On 23 June, when Indira Gandhi visited the Darbar Sahib for the first time after the operation, Goraya was at the tail end of the group surrounding her as she walked around the parikrama. As she looked at the Akal Takht, Goraya claims, she said to General Sundarji beside her: “I didn’t ask you to do this.”

*   *   *   *   *

Indira Gandhi, who had evidently approved Bluestar with the greatest reluctance, regretted the operation immediately, according to R K Dhawan, who was with her when she first saw images of the damage to the shrine.

Rajiv’s adviser, Arun Singh, “had gone to the Golden Temple and got footage,” Dhawan said. “She was horrified. Arun Singh was there, Rajiv was there, Arun Nehru [Gandhi’s nephew] was there. She said she had been let down.”

“Indira Gandhi was opposed to the Army action till the last minute,” Dhawan repeated. “It was convincing by the army chief and this trio that eventually changed her mind.”

Dhawan had reason to dislike “this trio” -- Gandhi’s young relatives and political advisers, who had tried to sideline the older Dhawan. But other evidence supports his claim that many of the decisions leading up to Bluestar were guided by Rajiv Gandhi, Arun Nehru and Arun Singh.

Sanjay Gandhi had been killed in mysterious circumstances in 1980; by the time of the Asian Games in 1982, it was Rajiv Gandhi who had begun to deal directly with Punjab affairs. Most dialogue with the Akalis was carried out under his supervision, in tandem with Arun Nehru and Arun Singh.

Rajiv Gandhi toed the party line and publicly shielded Bhindranwale for so long that, as late as 29 April 1984, he told reporters in Chandigarh that Bhindranwale “was a religious leader and has not shown any political affiliations so far.” By this time, violence in the state had escalated dramatically: in the first half of 1984, before Operation Bluestar, nearly three hundred people were killed.

The “corporate managerial talents” of Rajiv Gandhi’s team, as the intelligence officer MK Dhar put it, were new to Indian politics, and marked by their immaturity. In his book Open Secrets, Dhar writes that in one meeting to discuss security for the Asiad, “Rajiv even spoke in favour of using ‘terrorising tools to destroy the terrorists.’”

He struck Dhar as largely impatient and intolerant in his decision-making.

An inexperienced team such as this may have been spooked by premature doubts. A senior journalist who was part of Tully’s team in Amritsar told me of a conversation that, in hindsight, was extraordinarily sensitive.

“I used to meet Bhindranwale regularly and he would agree to do so since I was from the BBC,” he told me.

In May 1984, the journalist asked Bhindranwale what he would do if the army came in. “I remember his answer: ‘We are not amateurs.’ Pointing to the fields, he said, ‘Travelling on foot by the fields it is one hour to the border at Khalra. Shahbeg has organised a guerilla movement before, and Pakistan has offered to let us operate from across the border.’”

“I made one mistake,” the journalist said. “Arun Singh is my junior from college. When I went back to Delhi I went to meet him and Rajiv and ended up telling them what Bhindranwale had said. I am not sure what impact it had.”

That may have been one reason for the hurried nature of the operation. Whatever the motives for the rush into action, Nayar confirms Dhawan’s assertions about those who instigated it.

“When I was the Indian high commissioner in London in 1990, Arun Nehru came to stay with me,” he told me. Nayar asked him who had taken the decision to go ahead with Bluestar. “He said, ‘Phuphi was very opposed to it’ -- that was Mrs Gandhi. Rajiv Gandhi and Arun Singh were very much in favour of it. He did not take his own name, but at the time he was very much with the other two.”

When I repeated this conversation to Dhawan, he opened up further.

“Arun Singh was involved in it, there was no question about it, but he was acting through Rajiv Gandhi,” he said. “The main thing was that he was in touch with General Sundarji. Sundarji had overestimated himself, and he was acting through Arun Singh.”

“As long as Mrs Gandhi was there, Arun Nehru was in the thick of what was happening between Rajiv Gandhi and Arun Singh, and he was himself part of it,” Dhawan continued. “At that time, to my knowledge, the trio was functioning together. Arun Singh -- from the beginning, two to three months before Bluestar -- was insisting on the army action. At that time Arun Nehru, Arun Singh and Rajiv Gandhi were all one, sharing all the things.”

Dhawan said the trio felt that as a result of a successful army operation against Bhindranwale, “they would be able to win the elections hands down. That was weighing in their minds as the elections were shortly due.”

I asked him if they expressed this viewpoint to Indira Gandhi. His answer was terse. “Definitely.”

I asked if he would say, then, that Bluestar was the first big blunder of this coterie. “Of course it was,” Dhawan said. “It was a big blunder, for which Mrs Gandhi had to pay a very heavy price.”

VI

When Israr Khan found out I came from Khankot, he laughed. “We probably camped on your fields on the night before the attack,” he told me.

But if the events of Bhindranwale’s life and death are familiar to me, it is because I am linked to them not only by geography, but also through the kinship network that connects most Sikhs of peasant stock in Punjab.

Within minutes of meeting me at his home, also a stone’s throw from my village, Bhai Mokham Singh had placed me: a cousin of mine had married into a family he knows well. The conversation flowed easily once we had established this.

Mokham Singh was a spokesperson for the Taksaal for over a decade, from before Bhindranwale took over to well after Operation Bluestar. In the years after the operation, when Sikh hardliners took centre stage in Punjab, he remained a prominent figure.

For Mokham Singh, as for many in the state, perceptions of the ongoing election campaign were shaped by the past. He called Parkash Singh Badal, with whom Bhindranwale always had an uneasy relationship, “the worst of the lot.” Tohra, the former SGPC head, on the other hand, “wanted to remain with the Akali Dal, but when he was with Bhindranwale, his Sikh sentiments would awaken.”

Mokham Singh repeated the story I had heard from Jacob, about Tohra’s final meeting with Bhindranwale.

“On June 2, he came to meet Sant Bhindranwale. I was there,” he said. “It turned out to be the Sant’s last meeting with a senior leader.

“Tohra told him, ‘Mahapurukh, the panth needs you. You have much to give the panth in the future. It is because of you that the Sikh don their turbans, let their beard flow free and carry their kirpans. In colleges, our boys had become clean-shaven, they would smoke two cigarettes at a time and the communists held sway over them. Today, because of you, Sikhism has seen a resurgence. You have also restored to the Sikhs their pride. And then you have given the Sikhs this agitation against the government. We all know the numbers have come because of you. The panth needs you, which is why we want to save you, and to do that we will have to withdraw the agitation. There is no other way to save you.’”

“Sant Bhindranwale told him, ‘Tohra sahib, I thank you for this suggestion. I am a Sikh of Guru Gobind Singh. I cannot bow my head. I cannot let the community be put to shame. Several such Jarnail Singhs can be taken away from the Akal Takht but the honour of the panth cannot be besmirched. I will stand firm on what we have committed to doing. If you stand with me I will be grateful: the community has reposed faith in you. But it is alright if you don’t.’”

Jacob’s journalistic encounter had rendered this meeting in dry prose.

When men like Mokham Singh tell it, it acquires the grandiosity of myth. This is true of Bhindranwale’s entire life. There has never been, nor is there now, anyone within the faith to provide a counter-narrative, or even a corrective.

As Mokham Singh’s stories suggested, the Akalis are in no position to do so. The myth of Bhindranwale has largely subsumed the reality of Punjab’s bloody decades.

The years between 1980 and 1995 were a period of stagnation here. Outside of militancy or the police, there were few opportunities for young men. Some went abroad, acquiring great wealth, but little control of their surroundings. To such people, who renounced a nation but kept the faith, Bhindranwale was a natural icon: in the mythic narrative that they carried with them, he fought for the faith against the Indian nation.

For those who stayed back, it was not the lack of wealth but of opportunities that rankled. The violence of those years, and the long border shared with Pakistan, meant that even the opportunities that liberalisation brought in some measure to the young in the country largely skipped Punjab, as industry and finance kept away from the state because of the threat of war.

It is not for nothing that -- the question of Operation Bluestar aside -- allegations and counter-allegations of drug trading in the state dominated the Jaitley and Amarinder election campaigns in Amritsar.

Punjab has seen a dramatic rise in drug abuse in recent years; the problem is so pervasive among younger people that it has created fears of yet another “lost generation” in the state, which has already lost one to the excesses of the Indian State in Punjab and the militancy responding to it.

Jaitley claimed the problem is rooted in cross-border smuggling, for which the blame lay with the UPA government at the centre. Amarinder, on the other hand, claimed the problem had its origins in the manufacture of synthetic drugs within the state, and that the state’s Akali–BJP government was to blame.

De-addiction centres dot the landscape. On a recent visit, I drove to the Hermitage de-addiction centre, no more than ten kilometres from my village, to attend a “sharing” session. This was a gathering, almost entirely male, that met day by day to talk about the difficulties of staying clean. Their addictions ranged from drugs and alcohol to gambling; the counsellor for the day, himself an inmate of the centre, was a recovering heroin addict.

A mother, the only woman attending the session, which is open to families, came to speak of her young son, a one-time state volleyball player. “All we wanted to do was to ensure he would not ever feel deprived of anything,” she said. “Now when he begs for a couple of hundred rupees I know what it is for, and I have to say no.”

The son, a wraith who must have once been a commanding figure, well over six feet tall, listened quietly.

In such a climate, the legend of Bhindranwale has acquired great potency. Bhai Mokham Singh has forsaken the gun, and has little taste for the idea of Khalistan; a holy grail for the resistance fighters after 1984, the demand for a separate Sikh state was a chimera, to which even Bhindranwale in his lifetime paid little heed.

But the purity of the Bhindranwale myth is something he continues to espouse.

Unlike Ram Singh, the former Taksaal member campaigning for Jaitley, Mokham Singh did not drift towards the Akali Dal. Instead, he is part of a group, made up of some of his former compatriots and called the United Sikh Movement, contesting these elections in a loose alliance with the Aam Aadmi Party.

“We cannot think of the Congress,” he told me. “And the Akalis were never a real option. They were tacitly involved in the attack on the Darbar Sahib. They figured that if Sant Bhindranwale came out alive he would be finished, and if he didn’t, well -- even then they would form the government. Eventually that is what happened.”

At the USM and AAP’s joint press conference in Chandigarh in January, Yogendra Yadav made it clear that Bhindranwale was no hero of his.

In his turn, Mokham Singh said, “Sant Bhindranwale is a hero of ours and not theirs. As far as political support is concerned, it is not necessary that you should be agreed on all points.”

It was the sort of accommodation that few in the rest of the country had considered making so far. Some young men -- who might once have taken up the gun -- clearly see hope in campaigning jointly for a candidate. It seems like a better alternative than any the state has offered them in a long time.

CONCLUDED


[Courtesy: The Caravan. Edited for sikhchic.com]
May 25, 2015
 

Conversation about this article

1: Jagdish Sriraj (Lucknow, UP, India), May 25, 2014, 3:45 AM.

Interesting. To my knowledge, four of these perpetrators of State crimes -- Indira Gandhi, Sanjay Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Gen Vaidya -- died a dog's death; at least two of them at the hands of their Hindu co-religionists. Others, such as KS Brar, skulk in hiding like pariahs today, waiting for their own judgement day.

2: Bishen Singh (Pune, India), May 25, 2014, 5:20 AM.

I've always been ambivalent about Bhindranwale. I'm not sure what the author of this article set out to achieve, but where it leaves me today, now that I've read it to its conclusion, is this: that Bhindranwale was a man of integrity. With the detailed description of all the goings-on, he has shot up several notches in my estimation. The rest of the gang -- Indira Gandhi, Rajiv, Sanjay, Arun Nehru, Arun Singh -- have been proved by the author as being no less than criminals, in fact the very brand of terrorists that they were trying to label Bhindranwale with. The army generals and colonels, et al? Total incompetents, if not outright liars. The journalists -- Tully, Satish Jacob and, of course, Mr Bal himself -- don't come out looking good. I know journalists in this country well and can see that each of these men sold out his integrity in order to bag a 'big story' and the lure of getting access to powerful players made them compromise on their research skills and made them willing to look the other way when it was most crucial to be probative and incisive. Here's a simple example: every two-bit journalist bandies about claims that Bhindranwale was 'paid' for his 'services'. Well, where is the evidence? All Bal offers is "Satish Jacob said ...!" or that he had a receipt. That's it! Where is it? Has ANYONE seen it? Why is it secret, if it is in the hands of a journalist? That's all you have? That's all you sought? That's all you thought would suffice to put into your story? No wonder India has not produced a single world-class journalist to date, and certainly not a single honest account on 1984. Sadly everyone is up for sale. Sorry, Mr Bal, but you too have let us down. This article is not your shining moment.

3: R.S. Minhas (Millburn, New Jersey, USA), May 25, 2014, 5:24 PM.

This incident exposed serious flaws in the functioning of the Indian system that remain unanswered and need to be asked. 1) If the Indian State claims to be a representative democracy, then who was representing the interests of Sikhs and Punjab in the decision making process leading up to the attack? Certainly not Arun Singh, Arun Nehru or Rajiv Gandhi. Were these fellows thinking they were somehow more qualified with more rights over those affected? 2) The army is trained for dealing with war situations and an enemy. Who in his right mind in a democracy unleashes the lethal force of an army on its own citizens? Not to mention how much of a coward a general would have to be to agree to conduct such an action for his political masters. 3) Why would an independent State seek advice from foreign governments on how to deal with its own citizens, unless it is a ruse to cover a massacre? There are more serious questions of the Government than Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwale had himself posed while claiming that the Indian system was biased against minorities.

4: Kaala Singh (Punjab), May 25, 2014, 9:48 PM.

The Indian State treated Sikhs like an enemy nation and not as its own citizens. There is no parallel in the world where a state which claims to be a democracy uses such lethal force against its own people and later carried out well-planned massacres of Sikhs all over the country. This shows the character of the people who provided input to the political leadership and carried out this operation. There were honest generals too who refused to carry out this operation earlier but there were also stooges who were more than willing to please their political masters at the cost of innocent lives. They behaved like an invading army of marauders, even when the defenders were overwhelmed. Nazi-style killings with hands tied to the back of both captured combatants and non-combatants took place in violation of all accepted norms of combat. The UK connection to this is nothing but a cover-up, purchased with commercial deals worth billions. The erstwhile USSR as well as the Israelis were also involved, being main weapons supplier to India. Both had a history and have a pattern of similar atrocities against their own people.

5: H. Kaur  (Canada), May 27, 2014, 8:16 PM.

I don't know about anyone else, but I find it rather strange that the writer chose to allude to our history as mythology in one part of this thing, history such as Massa Ranggar invading Harmandar Sahib and two Sikhs killing him for it, Baba Deep Singh fighting in a battle. Okay, some may not believe in miracles such as him fighting with his head off, but did the battle not even take place?

6: Sunny Grewal (Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada), May 29, 2014, 7:47 PM.

Bhindranwale is either presented as a master statesman or as a puppet whose power went to his head. The former is applied to make him look like a sinister politician exploiting those around him, whereas the latter is used to decrease his image as a credible and competent leader. Regardless, both methods of character attack on Bhindranwale are aimed at placing the problems of Punjab squarely on his shoulders while reducing the role of the politicians in Punjab and Delhi in the 1984 Grand Debacle & Tragedy as unimportant or at least minor characters. Bhindranwale did not create the conditions which led to his rise or those which were created after his death. The Hindu media will never give an honest account of the troubles which plagued and continue to plague Punjab.

Comment on "1984 -- Thirty Years Later:
Part III
The Roundtable Open Forum # 122"









To help us distinguish between comments submitted by individuals and those automatically entered by software robots, please complete the following.

Please note: your email address will not be shown on the site, this is for contact and follow-up purposes only. All information will be handled in accordance with our Privacy Policy. Sikhchic reserves the right to edit or remove content at any time.