During the fateful night of 5/ 6 June while intense firefight was raging near the Akal Takht, senior Sikh leaders were huddled in one room in the Serai complex in mortal danger of being eliminated by radical youth deputed by Bhindraanwale. It was Col Goraya who rescued them, brought them to the safety of the Cantonment and later interviewed them.
By-anticipating and making arrangements for treatment of civilian casualties well in advance, he saved precious lives. After the Operation he played a constructive role in arranging and supervising restorative work in the Golden Temple complex.
His most valuable contribution however, was the spontaneous and timely action of saving the Toshakhana from plunder. For securing this invaluable treasure the nation, the Army and especially the Sikh community owe him a debt of gratitude.
More than 29 years have elapsed since the gruesome episode of Operation Blue Star, when the Indian Army had to overpower and eliminate armed Sikh radicals who had occupied and forti-fied the holy precincts of Golden Temple Amritsar and a few other Gurdwaras. It may have been a military success but without doubt it was a political disaster. This dark chapter in the history of Punjab has been overly chronicled. The market is flooded with books and articles on it. Why then another book on the subject?
Among the large number of books there are only a handful authored by reputed journalists and writers, which present a comprehensive, dispassionate and well balanced account of the events. However, none of them were direct witnesses as all members of the press corps were asked to leave Punjab. Their accounts are based on third party narratives. There were only two kinds of people who witnessed this unique operation directly, from their respective inclined perches -the members of the security forces who launched the Operation and the ones against whom it was launched. And the adversarys' accounts whether told through a third person or recorded by themselves cannot be taken as unbiased as they are bound to lean towards their respective sides. Not even the innocent pilgrims entrapped by the whirlwind of events could be termed as neutral; all of them were devout Sikhs.
In his book entitled "Operation Blue Star-the True Story" General Brar's description of the events is detailed, accurate and truthful, but he too was under compulsion to justify the plan he himself evolved and executed. On the other hand publications that condemned the Operation, (without exception all Punjabi publications and also some in English) are written by those who were associates of Bhindraanwale at some stage or the other and were enamoured by his vision and views, or members of the Sikh clergy or Akali Dal; thus associated with the movement called Tharam Yudh'. All such authors were dyed in the deep colours of Sikhism. Their accounts therefore, can hardly be expected to be even handed. That is why I felt there was space for an unbiased and eye witness account. Right from June 1984, I had an urge to expose the truth and place an unbiased account of events in front of the public some day. This was the prime motive of this book. I started keeping a record of my first hand experiences and developing the plot in my mind's incubator.
General Brar as GOC of 9 Infantry Divison was responsible for *the planning and execution of the action. As such his book coYers in detail the background, operational planning and difficulties encountered during its execution until the elimination of armed opposition by the militants. Role of 15 Infantry Division of which I was a part, began after this. The focus of this book therefore is on events after 5/ 6 June, on tasks involving restoration and reconstruction in which I had personal and deep involvement. Many issues and events have not been dealt with in depth here as I had either scant knowledge or no personal involvement in them. But whatever I have included, I have tried to be forthright, truthful and fair. ,?
This claim of mine is based on two facts. Firstly, being an atheist, I am free from the influence of religious faith, Sikhism or any .other. Secondly, inspite of having served in the army I am under no compulsion to be partial to the army or the Government, especially now that more than 19 years have elapsed since I retired. That is why I am not obliged to mask the unsavory acts committed by members of the security forces including Army. I have preferred to abide by truth, fully aware that it may taste bitter on some tongues. Some readers are bound to fling lumps of mud at me; just too bad.
This book ought to have been written much earlier. I kept putting it off on some excuse or the other. In the beginning the army uniform forced me to stay mum. After that my gradual drift away from faith and all matters religious held back my hand. In the end I surrendered to persuasion and encouragement of friend Karamjit Singh Aujla and my late cousin Professor Mohinder Singh Cheema. For a realistic appraisal of important historical events a wide gulf of time is helpful. This was the second reason for postponing this project.
During the last 29 years a large quantity of water has flown down the rivers of the truncated Punjab. Simmering emotions seem to have cooled down, the tides of passions have ebbed, the youth of the eightees has turned hoary and matured and the bubbly progeny of that period has now stepped into their shoes. The wonder balm of time too has done its job of healing the wounds. Only scars remain. It is hoped that the current Sikh leaders are ready to acknowledge the blunders of their predecessors and have picked up lessons from their mistakes which will help avoid unwarranted bloodshed and confrontations on non issues in future. This is not to say that the cause of their agitation was totally unjust. Nevertheless it is hoped the current Sikh psyche has spat out the bitterness.
Equally, the political class too should have carried out an honest introspection and vowed never to play mean games for petty political gains.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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