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Bluestar: Big losses

All praise to Kanwar Sandhu for his write-up “Operation Bluestar- 30 years later” (June 1.) I would like to share with the readers certain aspects left out or covered insufficiently. First, besides the physical damage to Akal Takht, the Sikh psyche and Hindu-Sikh relations were damaged irreparably. In addition to a big financial expenditure, the cost in terms of loss of innocent lives and consequent human suffering remains incalculable. Second, the genesis of the crisis did not lay in the killing of Nirankari Baba in 1978 as averred. It had started in the early 60s by the Jan Sangh when it went about forcing Punjabi Hindus to disown their mother tongue, resulting in skewed 1961 census figures. The direct result was a truncated Punjabi-speaking state and the festering Chandigarh issue and some Punjabi speaking areas being left out of the state. Third were the mischievous anti-Sikh actions by the then Haryana CM Bhajan Lal when the state police started searching turbans of Sikhs for hidden weapons, particularly during the 1982 ASIAD. Fourth, the simmering discontent of Sikhs was aggravated by Indira Gandhi’s unjust River Waters Accord. Fifth, exactly how a nondescript preacher was catapulted and planted in Guru Nanak Niwas has not been explained. Sixth, how did the hardliners call the shots in the countryside by killing busloads of Hindus and targeting their businesses, resulting in their large-scale migration to neighbouring states? Seventh, abject surrender of SAD and elected SGPC leadership. Whatever, the constraints and risks, they should have led the community from the front and never allowed hardliners to descarate the holy precincts. Instead, fearing for their lives, they aligned themselves with secessionists and anti-nationals without realising that by doing so, they were actually throwing away glorious contribution and unparalleled sacrifices of their ancestors for the freedom, independence and dignity of India. Eighth, the blame game. While it is easy for most Sikhs to blame Indira Gandhi, the Sikh intelligentsia, particularly some visionless leaders, failed to introspect on how this brave community landed itself in the situation. Operation Bluestar and the consequent 1984 ‘Ghallughara’ were avoidable tragedies. While Indira Gandhi had to die for her blunder and ill-judged decision, the Sikh leadership has learnt nothing as is evident from the memorial to Bhindranwale constructed next to the hallowed Akal Takht Sahib. Surely those who do not learn from history are condemned to suffer the consequences.

Supinder Bedi, Dehradun

Factual account

As I lapped up “Operation Bluestar- 30 years later” by Kanwar Sandhu, I silently congratulated the author for the factual account of events. One can see that he has carried out a deep study of the events. For a crime committed by a few individuals, millions from a rabid nation of over 100 crore, chased innocent Sikhs, be they men, women, children or valiant soldiers (even in uniform) in trains, on the streets, in their homes, in hospitals and killed them most brutally! Why?

We must find an answer to this question and to do this, dear editors, please keep reminding us of the devil in us as is done by the frank and ruthlessly true article. Let us press the government to expose, arrest and punish the perpetrators of all pogroms/crimes against humanity and then only preach the maxim of “forgiving and forgetting such events as we would a bad dream.”

Lt-Gen KS Gill, PVSM (Retd), via email

Hard to forget

A few references would dispel the cloud of darkness around events related to Operation Bluestar. The first one is of Subramanian Swamy’s article “Creating a martyr” in which he has written that the Government of India master-minded a disinformation campaign to create legitimacy for its actions. Its goal was to make out that Golden Temple was a haven of criminals, a store of armoury and a citadel of nation dismemberment conspiracy. Secondly, Maj-Gen Afsur Karim, paratrooper and course-mate of the then Maj-Gen Brar, and former editor of the Indian Defence Review, had written that one wishes Brar’s attempt to explode what he calls certain “explain myths” had been more convincing. He added that it is intriguing that if the police (and the government) believed that militants had only 200-250 weapons, a majority of which were 12 bore guns and 303 rifles, where was the need to call in the army? Thirdly, in the September 1984 issue of the Surya magazine, it is stated that a third agency kept the supply of lethal weapons flowing into the Golden Temple. This agency had planned that somerailway stations be blown up. The agency incited violence in Punjab. Senior officers of the third agency have been rewarded with police medals and prize foreign postings. So, the people of Punjab will never able to forget the massacres. It was a Sikh genocide in 1984 and not operation as it fell well within the UN definition of genocide. This was an attempt to strike at the spirit of a community. IThe minorities are still at risk in India. After what took place, there was never an honest attempt to reconcile the Sikhs.

It is difficult to forget such incidents. Even the Jews have still not forgotten what Nazi-Germany did to them.

Navpreet Singh, via email

True Sikhs

The letter “Bluestar: Move on” (June 6) is probably one of the most appreciable letters published during the recent period. It should have captured the top position. Whoever is a follower of Guru Nanak Devji’s philosophy is a true Sikh. Crores of Hindus are also covered under this viewpoint. Jashandeep Singh Kang, the author of the letter, has done a commendable job by pointing out the mistakes of both the Sikh extremists and the Indian government related to the Golden Temple and a desire for peace.

Prof BM Rawlley, Zirakpur

Remember good & bad

I do not agree with the advice to the Sikhs to forget and move on. What else should one forget? Should we forget the Jallianwala Bagh massacre and dismantle the memorial to the 1919 incident? How about the Shahidi Jor Mela of Sirhind? Or should people stop celebrating Dasehra, which commemorates an incident that supposedly occured a few milleniums ago? June 6 is remembered in the West to commemorate the attack on Normandy in France during WWI. There is a demand for a memorial for the soldiers killed in 1857 whose remains were dug out of a well in Ajnala. One should not forget the past, good or bad.

STS Dhillon, Canada

Letters to the Editor, typed in double space, should not exceed the 200-word limit. These should be cogently written and can be sent by e-mail to: Letters@tribuneindia.com



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