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Table of Contents for Operation Blue Star- Book By Lt.Gen.K.S.Brar
|2.||A Backdrop to the Punjab Imbroglio||11|
|3.||Meteoric Rise of Bhindranwale||17|
|4.||The Evolution of Plans||33|
|5.||Cloudburst over Amritsar||74|
|6.||After the Storm||129|
The true test of a book of this nature is that it should evoke discussion and introspection which I hope will be healthy and honest, nor bitter or acrimonious.
A human being often, quite unexpectedly, finds himself poised critically at the crest of a historical wave. Such occasions are not too numerous in the life of a military leader. This is a blessing, since military events are almost always written in human blood and sacrifice. Insurgency and terrorism invariably make superhuman demands on the military mind, and the dynamics of counter insurgency operations impose an unbearable burden of doubt with regard to legality and justness thereof, particularly when military force is applied against one's own ilk. Such was the case on the night of 5 June 1984, when elements of the Indian army had to undertake the mission of wresting the holiest of Sikh shrines, the Golden Temple at Amritsar, from a motley group of armed zealots. In the bargain, a pantheon of self-seeking Akali (Sikh) politicians and some unfortunate innocent pilgrims held as hostages became victims of the cross-fire. The armed coterie owed allegiance to the legendary Frankenstein of Sikh politics, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale whose sudden and meteoric rise had turned the tide of events in Punjab.
The end of British rule in 1947 had unleashed an uncontrollable struggle for political ascendancy among the many disparate constituents of the diversity that is india. It was in the sixties that the Sikh peasantry, having recovered from the terrible trauma of the green revolution, began to make a determined bid for the loaves of office. Though Sikh history spans only 400 years or so, the dichotomy in the Sikh mind with regard to honour and pride on one side, and a penchant for self survival on the other, dates back much further. The Punjab imbroglio in the past few decades is but a manifestation of the manoeuvres for power by various competing interests, to which the politicians at the helm of affairs, both at the Centre and in the State, have contributed in no small measure, by their patently selfish political chicanery. In fact, ever since the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, no coherent body has emerged to represent the Sikh interests for any reasonable duration.
Internal gangsterism has been the hallmark of the politics of the Akalis who have arrogated to themselves the authority to represent the Sikhs for all purposes. Enroute to political dominance they have trod the treacherous path of religious fundamentalism. Abettors such as Bhindranwale and Simranjit Singh Mann are but natural corollaries. Events like those that occurred on 5 june, are unfortunate milestones of horror to be avoided in future at all costs, lest the ensuing congflagration cause immeasurable misery to a vast horde of humanity, and even threaten to destroy the Indian state once again.
The application of money, murders, muscle and media has gradually and inexorably polluted Indian political horizons. Thus it was the Government of India, under the leadership of Indira Gandhi, found itself perched on the top of a volcano, and had finally to take recourse to employing soldiers of the Indian army to bail them out of a near cataclysm. Right from the time that the army was commandeered, it was quite evident to all dramatis personae that this was one situation which should have been averted. One of the most sacred religious institutions, revered by Hindus and Sikhs alike, had to be assaulted in the face of an almost total absence of operational intelligence and in the face of opposition from a stubbornly motivated and heavily armed body of professionally led militants, deployed in extremely well prepared defences.
The meticulous and detailed planning that such an operation entails is, by itself, a stupendous exercise. The special circumstances that prevailed in this case make it one of the most fascinating operations in the annals of military history. Not many parallels abound. It involved the orchestration of not only motley military units but also a host of other agencies like para military forces, civil police as well as the civil administration. Political control invariably defiles the pristine essentials of such military operations and planning. I feel that all these need to be described in detail by a person who was in the thick of it, right from the time the fateful decision was taken.
The execution of such an operation is no mean task; in fact, no operation ever goes through as planned. The various twists and turns in the events as they emerge need to be studied and documented for posterity, lest truth get drowned in the quicksand of fractured perceptions. Though it was finally the military action that cleansed the Golden Temple and rescued injured divinity, yet it is ironical that many people still choose to believe in myths and half truths. It is these myths that need to be exploded by a truthful narration of the facts. A number of falsehood that bedevil the heroic deeds of the army in the Golden Temple need to be countered; this is the least the nation can do to repay the debt that they owe to each soldier for the sacrifies he made to preserve the honour and integrity of the country. Let us not close our eyes to gruesome realities: the innumerable premeditated murders, hoards of ill-gotten wealth and weaponry that were found in the Temple, the horrendous misdeeds that were committed prior to 5 June 1984, under the aegis of those who claimed the sanctity of sainthood. I have attempted, in these pages, to narrate the events as I saw and lived them, in an attempt to prevent history from degenerating into mystery.
A decade or so is perhaps the right amount of time to have elapsed before attempting to document contemporary history. It is also the time when one can indulge in the luxury of introspection because events have ceased to colour one's judgement emotionally . The best form of reminiscencing is to enumerate events as they unfolded and use them as a backdrop to review the ones that preceded or followed as I have chosen to do. I feel it is all the more important that the truth be allowed to surface because the fall-out of Operation Blue Star continues to cloud the horizon over Punjab even today.
I know that many will disagree with some of my observations and comments but then, the true test of a book of this nature is that it should evoke discussion and introspection, which I hope will be healthy and honest, not bitter or acrimonious.
Bombay Lt. Gen. K.S. Brar (Retd.)
Introduction to the Book of 'Operation Blue Star The True Story' By Lt. Gen. K.S. Brar
OPERATION Blue Star is one of the most controversial, hotly-debated military operations in the world and certainly one which will be regarded as a turning point in contemporary Indian history.
This is an account by the Army officer who led it - touchingly honest, often anguished, minutely detailed. It is perhaps the most accruate and fascinating piece of reporting that we shall ever have on "one of the most extraordinary, sensitive and traumatic operations in military history." It hides nothing - not the unexpected reverses suffered by the Army, nor its miscalculations, nor the grit and determination of the militants it was assigned to flush out. Detailed operational sketch maps, photographs and documentary authentication lend credence to a detailed chronological account with all its traumas, breathstopping climaxes and inevitable denouements.
While demolishing many myths, criticisms and half-truths, it seeks bravely to answer many of the questions that plague not only Sikhs but all Indians.
The author, who was involved in the planning and execution of the Operation at every stage, is perhaps the only one who really knows what exactly transpired on the fateful night of 5 June 1984. This is his story. The whole truth. And nothing but the truth.
About the Author 'Lt. Gen. K.S. Brar'
Lieutenant General K.S. Brar, PVSM, AVSM,VrC, ADC, was born in 1934 at Lahore in the then undivided India. He was educated at the Doon School , Dehra Dun.
During his illustrious military career, he has held a number of prestigious command, staff and instructional appointments in the Indian Army. He has commanded an Infantry, an independent armoured Brigade, an Infantry Division and a Corps. He has also held the coveted appointment of Commandant, Defence Services Staff College at Wellington. He retired on 30 September 1992, as the General Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Command (India). A graduate of the Australian Staff College and an alumnus awards for gallantry and distinguished service of an exceptionally high order. His varied operational experiences cover the entire Indian theatre in all major events where the Army was committed.
He is now working on his next book Fighting Insurgency and Terrorism.
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