THE ATTACK WAS NOT A “LAST RESORT”
The attack on the Golden Temple was in plans even before the armed Sikh militants fortified it.
S K Sinha was the General Officer Commanding Western Command, a prestigious appointment in the early eighties, and was transferred to Delhi as the Vice Chief of Army Staff, with the expectation that he would succeed General K. V. Krishna Rao as the Army Chief.
He was supposed to familiarize himself with the office of the Army Chief. It was a surprise when he was superseded and Lt.-Gen. A. S. Vaidya, the GOC-in-C Eastern Command was appointed as the Chief of Army Staff. General S. K. Sinha submitted his resignation and elected to lead a retired life.
Then GOC of the Indian Army, S.K. Sinha, who was sacked on the eve of the attack for being critical of it, had criticized the Government’s projection of the attack as “Last resort”; and stated that the attack was in plans 1 year and 6 months prior to the actual day of attack. S. K. Sinha and Mark Tully report that the army had been rehearsing the attack for this time in the replica of Golden Temple they had built at a secret location near Chakrata Cantonment in the Doon Valley.
He disclosed in his book, that the preparations to attack on this holiest shrine were being made for the last 18 months. A model of this shrine was temporarily built at Chakrata, a hill station 90 kms. far from Dehra Dun where the army was rehearsing to attack and a complete information was given of the inside of this complex of Golden temple to soldiers, made them familiar with topography of the complex when it attacks. In other meanings, the strategy to attack on holiest shrine was planned much before the Sant Jarnail Bhindranwala shifted to Sri Akal Takhat and made it’s Head Quarter. The Govt itself created such circumstances through false propaganda and provocations in Punjab to justify the army attack and to teach a lesson to Sikh nation whereas the need was to learn a lesson by Indira herself and the Indian govt.
Indira Gandhi had first asked Lt. Gen. S.K. Sinha, then Vice-Chief of Indian Army who was then slated to succeed as the Army chief, to prepare a position paper for assault on the Golden Temple. Lt. Gen. S K Sinha advised against any such move, given the sacrilegious outlook from Sikhs and non-Sikhs around the world – the shrine is unique in the world that it is not only open to people of all faiths, but revered by all as well.
He suggested the government adopt an alternative solution. A controversial decision was made to replace him immediately with Gen. Arun Vaidya as the Chief of the Indian Army.
Gen. Vaidya was assisted by Lt. Gen. K. Sunderjee as Vice-Chief. Operation Blue Star was eventually planned and controlled by them.
“Indian government was training Indian army at least 18 months before the attack” is from Major Gen Brars book “The true Story- Operation Blue Star” If you read this book, you will not be left with any doubt about the crimes committed by Indian Army and Indian government.
Former General VK Singh, chief of army staff revealed in his book ‘Couarge and Conviction’ that Indira took a political decision to attack and flush out the militants and army had to compromise. (By: General VK Singh with Kunal Verma Aleph book Company. Rs. 595, PP 363).
But question arises whether Sant Jarnail Singh ji Bhindranwale and his followers were terrorists? If so, who and when declared them terrorist? Was any warrant pending against Sant Jarnail Singh or whether he was wanted by any Court of law or Indira Gandhi levelled hima terrorist just for her vested interests to see Congress rule in Punjab? What is the criteria to call one terrorist in India, whether any popularity of a person makes him throne in eyes of PM and Ministry of home affairs that they just defame a saintly person as a terrorist?
Who will answer them?
By the end of May 1984, the situation in Punjab was becoming extremely tense. In May 1984, Indira Gandhi called for a conference at her residence. It was attended by the chief of Army Staff (COAS), General Arun Sridhar Vaidya, the DGMO, General CM Somanna, and the Western Army Commander who had come down from Chandi Mandir, Lieutinent General Krishnaswamy Sunderji.
Indira Gandhi had discussed the situation within the Golden Temple, and asked the Western Army commander if the entire group of militants could be flushed out, General Sunderji had responded positively, reportedly saying that if there was a requirement to clear the golden Temple, he would have it cleared in no time.
Sunderji belligerent stance put the COAS in an awkward situation. As the chief, with General Somanna by his side, began to explain the reasoning behind this advice, Indira Gandhi impatiently cut him short and asked him why he was anticipating problems when the army commander on the ground was confident of resolving the issue.
General Sunderji always looked to be a man in a tremendous hurry and it was felt that he was too willing to do things without getting into the details of the matter.
This set the ball rolling for what was to be one of India’s darkest chapters – Operation Blue star. Indira Gandhi also unwittingly created a situation where army HQ now had to play a secondary role to Western Command in planning the operation.
The moment General Sunderji pulled the carpet from under the COAS’s feet, military logic had been compromised and each subsequent decision was guided by political rather than operational logic.
But if General VK Singh is believed on planning of attack in end of May 1984, then why Genral SK Sinha revealed in his book ‘Last resort’ as the army was giving training to it’s soldiers in Chakrata (doon valley) 18 months before the attack? But we believe the version of attack being political and the specific day of operation on martyrdom day of fifth guru of Sikh religion to give a cover to army personals in complex to reach safely and take possession of Sri Akal Takhat which failed. General Sunderji had assured that the army will take over the control within no time but it was stopped for 72 hrs to cover a distance of only 200 meters. The army was compelled to use heavy Arty and Armor to demolish the historical building of supreme and temporal seat of Sikh religion and to kill the last 14 Sikh militants.
General Malik didn’t clarify if the attack on Golden temple by Indian army was justified and on Sikh genocide in November why army couldn’t be deployed in Delhi and other parts of India where the Sikhs were killed brutally in large numbers. Why did the troops sent from Agra and Meerut couldn’t reach Delhi in three days whereas the same Indian army by same Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was sent to Sri Lanka in just six hours on demand of the President Jaywardhne?
The Generals of Indian army were given only six hours for preparation and leave to Sri Lanka, they obliged in 1985.
Ajmer Singh Randhawa