OPERATION BLUESTAR : The untold story
Investigation Team : Amiya Rao, Aurbindo Ghose, Sunil Bhattacharya, Tejinder Ahuja and N.D.Pancholi
OFFICIAL VERSION – FACT OR FICTION?
These accounts of what happended at the Golden Temple on June 5 are in marked contrast to the white paper or the army’s common charge sheet to the 379 alleged ‘terrorists’ captured from Golden Temple now detained under N.S.A. at Jodhpur.
According to the White Paper: ” All Commanders were instructed to continuously use the public address systems for a number of hours at every suspected hidout of terrorists to give themselves up in order to prevent bloodshed and damage to holy plac es before the use of force for their apprehension.” Was this actually done? Our eye-witness accounts prove that it was not. Regarding Golden Temple, the White Paper is also specific, “During the afternoon and evening of June 5 1984 repeated appe als were made to the terrorists over the public address system to lay down their arms and surrender and to others inside the Temple to come out, to prevent avoidable bloodshed and damage to structures in theTemple Complex. In response to this appeal 129 m en, women and children came out and they were handed over to the civil authorities.” Is it possible to believe this version? We have seen how the Army started shelling the Golden Temple without any warning or public announcement from the early hours of June 4. They continued this firing throughout June 4 and 6. The militants also fired in reply but they were no match, either in terms of numbers of men or in amounts of ammuntion. How could the Army make ‘repeated appeals’ during the afternoon and even ing of June 5 when intense fighting was going on and how could 120 person come out during this raging battle?
The Army’s version, as revealed by its chargesheet to the 379 alleged ‘terrorists’ detained at Jodhpur Jail, is even more incredible. On June 5, when they were supposed to have been deputed for duty outside the Golden Temple, the Army had the informati on that “the extremists/terrorists led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale had collected men, arms, ammunitions and explosives within the Golden Temple and had also made other preparations to wage war against the Government of India with the intention to e xtablish a State independent of the Government of India to be known as Khalistan”. Or in other words, Khalistan was to be established at the Golden Temple and if the A.I.S.S.F. member is to be believed, by about 100 fighters equipped mostly with 303 decrepit guns of the II World War, a few 315 rifles and some stenguns. S. S. Bhagowalia an advocate at Gurdaspur and Vice President of the Associtation for Democratic Rights (A.F.D.R. Punjab) investigated and found that Bhindranwale’s supporters numbered no more that 140-150. It is strange that the White Paper has nothing to say about the Khalistan flag – a country without a flag! But the White Paper says that Khalistan was to be established at the Golden Temple. According to the Army’s chargsheet and als o the White Paper, in response to the Army’s repeated appeals to the Terrorists to lay down their arms and surrender, they opened intensive firing from inside the Complex. “They were shouting anti-national slogans.” This was a battle not a demon stration. How could ‘terrorists’ engage in shouting anti-national slogans at a time when they were allegedly using automatic and semi-automatic weapons, grenades, explosives, etc? Even if they did shout these slogans how could the slogans be heard over th e din and noise of rattling stenguns and automatic rifles?
The White Paper also describes how the library was allegedly gutted on the night between June 5 and 6 – “Troops were able to enter the area around the Sarovar through the northern deori and the Southern library building. Terrorists were in control of the Library building and fired from there. At this stage, the library caught fire – the Army fire brigade was rushed but their attempts were failed by the machine-gun fire from the terrorists.” A perfect brief for the Army!
But according to Duggal who was in incharge of the Sikh Reference Library and who cared for it, the Library was intact when he last saw it on June 6, evening while leaving the Temple Complex. However, he was in for a terrible shock when he was brought back to the Temple complex by the Army on June 14. Let us listen to Duggal’s tale of sorrow as well as courage: “On 14th June 1984 I was arrested by the Army and taken inside the Golden Temple, where I was shocked to see that the Sikh Reference Libra ry had been burnt. The entire Golden Temple Complex presented a very, very painful look. It bore at least 3 lakhs of bullet marks. The Akal Takht was in shambles. Guru Nanak Nivas, Teja Singh Samundri Hall, Guru Ram Das Serai and the langar buildings had been burnt. When I left the Complex on 6th all those buildings were in good shape in spite of the Army Attack, Taken to the Library’s ruins, I was asked by the Army Col. to take charge of the Library. I asked him as to were is the Library. He said that I had no option but to sign a typed receipt to the effect that I have taken over the charge of the Library. I refused to oblige him saying that I would not tell such a big lie.”
The White Paper is very emphatic the “Troops were particularly instructed not to wear any leather items in holy places and to treat all apprehended person with dignity and consideration.” What was the reality?