June 1984, Light of Truth – 16.

Read the next article at https://asrandhawa.wordpress.com/2014/05/30/june-1984-light-of-truth-17/


              Let me ask a fundamental question. What was the personal motive of Bhindranwale in all this? He repeatedly refused to hold any office. Like an ordinary Sikh, he was sick and tired of the injustices heaped on Sikhs in religious, political and economic field. He was also fed up with the Akali leadership which repeatedly staged Morchas but never followed through on anything. Ordinary Sikhs are being persecuted by the government and whenever they raise any grievance they are either jailed or killed. There is no justice for the Sikhs. Anandpur Sahib resolution was democratic, but Akalis were not sincere in pushing for its implementation.

In our religion, we have been taught that if everything else fails, it is righteous to take the sword. That is Sikh history. It may not be politically correct in Mr. Tiwana’s book, but this is what a true Sikh is supposed to do. There are thousands of arm chair statesmen and so called experts, but very few put their money where their mouth is. They are scared for their lives. Nobody likes to face the wrath of the powers that be, by speaking the truth. That is a fact. Bhindranwale was an icon, he fought against injustice and died as a martyr. At the end of the day, as long as the injustice continues, the fight shall continue, that is just history.

Sant Ji never ordered murder of any innocent person and he consistently condemned violence against innocent people. However, he did name certain police officers who had been guilty of torturing and killing innocent people whose only crime was that they belonged to the Bhindranwale Jatha. In this context, please permit me to quote from my book “Struggle for Justice” my conversation with I.K. Gujral in 1987.

“Hindu leaders were content to go along with the Government or indeed to demand more strict action against the Sant. They paid no heed to the Sant’s complaints of violation of human rights in Punjab. Typical of this attitude was a statement by Gujral who said, in the course of an eloquent speech, that the Sikh struggle had been peaceful but was taken over by violent elements. This writer asked him if he was referring to Sant Bhindranwale as the violent elements’. He agreed. This writer reminded him that Sant Bhindranwale, in one of his speeches, had mentioned that over 140 persons had been killed and another one thousand crippled in police torture up to that date and that the Sikhs had tried persuasion with the police, legal action in the courts and appeals to the national leaders and the press but that nobody had made any effort to stop the torture and the killings in custody, and that the Sant had then gone on to ask the public as to how long the Sikhs should continue to quietly suffer without defending themselves? This writer asked Gujral as to whether, in his opinion or according to his information, Sant Bhindranwale was lying and if not, what did leaders like him do about the killings and tortureby the police and what should the Sant have done in the face of this
oppression? Gujral replied that he had never thought about the problem from that
point of view.”

Incidentally, I sent Gujral a copy of the above with a request that he correct me if my notes of the conversation were not correct. I did not get a reply. It is said that  “At the last day he was also requested by SGPC to vacate Akal Takhat.”

I am not aware of this specific request by the SGPC. However, I was told by a friend that he suggested this to Sant Ji during a meeting towards the end of May 1984. Sant Ji’s response went something like this: “Baba Deep Singh, the first Jathedar of this Taksaal came from his village to fight the oppressors and became a Shaheed. Are you suggesting that I, sitting here in the face of oppression, turn tail and run away from here?”

Upon my friend telling him that the Army was ready to move in and there could be a lot of damage, he replied: “We have not laid siege to anyone’s home, we are not holding any of them as prisoners, we are not firing upon and killing people. They have laid siege to Darbar Sahib, our home; they are holding so many innocent young men in jails and torturing them, they daily fire upon and kill our people; now they want to send in the Army and kill all of us; why don’t you go tell them not to do it.”

People are concerned with Bhindranwale being in Akal Takhat Sahib at the time of the attack. In a previous mail I explained that he was not living inside of Siri Akal Takhat Sahib. Anyways, it appears irrelevant as to where he was at that time.

The attack was to take place regardless. Sardar Gurdev Singh, District Magistrate at Amritsar until shortly before the invasion, is on record (letter addressed to I.K. Gujral, dated 26 January 1996, published in Abstract of Sikh Studies, Chandigarh,
October-December 1996, pp. 106-111) as having assured the Governor of the state that he could arrest anyone in Darbar Sahib at any time. When Sardar Gurdev Singh told.

Governor Pande that if the object was to arrest Bhindranwale, there was no need for the Army to act and that he could do it; the Governor is said to have replied: “That is not the point”. In any case, at the time of the attack, there was no court case or summons against Bhindranwale. Is it reasonable for a government to send in the Army to devastate a religious place because it is allegedly controlled by a person against whom it has no legal charges?

Most people are concerned about Sant Ji exhorting Sikhs to keep weapons. Sant Bhindranwale started keeping a pistol after the 1978 Nirankari affair. He would argue that the Nirankaris had weapons and had killed so many innocent protestors. Still. they had been let off and allowed to keep their weapons. In the future, Sikhs too should keep weapons to protect themselves and to seek justice. There are allegations that Santji traveled with a retinue of armed people. His plea was that if Gurbachan Singh, the Nirankari leader, can have an armed escort, why can’t he. The weapons displayed by his men were all properly licensed and Indian law permits any license-holder to
carry his/her weapon in public. He was not violating any laws in doing this. In any case, Sikhs have been told to be “Shastardhari” by Siri Guru Gobind Singh Sahib. Would we call Guru Sahib a “terrorist”. Perhaps the Mughal government of the time and the hill Rajas did.

It’s generally alleged : “There are awful tales of his followers who committed unspeakable atrocities like killing of Sodhi and Atwal and many dead bodies were found in blocked nalas.”

There is no evidence that Sant Bhindranwale was in any way involved in Atwal’s murder. In fact, he expressed sympathy with him and protested that he had nothing to do with it. Many people believe that the Government had Atwal killed because he could not be trusted to do its bidding (at the time of his murder, Atwal was supervising the investigation into the murder of Hardev Singh and his associates by the police in March 1983.)

Sodhi was a close associate of the Sant. There is no question of his being killed by the Sant’s associates. In April 1984, Baljit Kaur confessed to having been paid to kill Sant Bhindranwale. The original plan having failed, she was asked to help get Surinder Singh Sodhi assassinated. Allegedly, the assassin, Surinder Singh Chhinda” was helped in his escape by Malik Singh Bhatia, an Akali leader. Sant Bhindranwale told his audience not to seek revenge at the critical stage in the Morcha because it would give the Government material for anti-Sikh propaganda. Some bitterly angry persons did not heed his warning and Baljit Kaur, the killer Surinder Singh “Chhinda”, and Malik Singh Bhatia were eliminated soon after. All these killings were against Santji’s e press instructions. If anyone is aware of any other killings, would he kindly let us have details?

Some people qoutes Bhindranwale’s speeches: “All you find abuse and vulgar la guage.” I beg to differ. I see no obscenity, profanity, or abuse in the speeches. Could anyone kindly point out specific instances of abuse and vulgarity in Santji’s speeches?

“The Sant’s following grew as he successfully regenerated the ‘good’ life of purity, dedication and hard work by reviving these fundamental values of the Sikh religion’s way of life.” (Vandana Shiva: The Violence of the Green Revolution, Research Foundation for Science and Ecology, Dehra Dun, 1989.)


The comment by Khushwant Singh is quite appropriate. Khushwant Singh was no admirer or friend of he Sant.

Clearly, if Sant Bhindranwale had continued in his mission without interference by the Akalis on the one hand and Indira Gandhi’s government on the other, Punjab would have continued to benefit from his parchar. However, this was not to be. Akalis were afraid that his growing popularity among the Sikh youth would make him a “kingmaker” even if he declined any public office for himself. The extremists among the majority community resented the revival of Sikhi and started a campaign of maligning the Gurus and the Sikh faith. The State and Central governments aided in this and started suppression of the Sant and his followers. This was the starting point for major trouble in Punjab.

Here is a report by Tavleen Singh [The Punjab Story, edited by Amarjit Kaur, Roli Books, New Delhi, 1984]

“Contrary to popular belief that he took the offensive, senior police sources in the Punjab admit that the provocation came from a Nirankari official who started harassing Bhindranwale and his men. There were two or three Nirankaris in key positions in the Punjab in those days and they were powerful enough to be able to create a lot of trouble.”

As part of this harassment, three members of Sant Bhindranwale’s Jatha were arrested on fictitious charges on 17 July 1982. When Thara Singh and Amrik Singh sought to get them released, they too were arrested on 19 July. This arrest became the trigger for start of Sant Bhindbeen advised complete rest. After ishnaan in the sarovar, at 5 p.m. he sent a Jatha of about fifty volunteers to “sit on the road” in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s residence. They were all arrested Bhiranwala protested. He came to Darbar Sahib that day even though he was very sick and had fever.

The Akalis took over the Morcha on 4 August 1982 and gave it the name “Dharm Yudh Morcha”. Akali leaders, along with Sant Bhindranwale, did an Ardaas at Siri Akal Takhat Sahib for victory. In the Ardaas, they pledged that they would not withdraw the Morcha till the demands contained in the Anandpur Resolution were accepted and that none of them would go and seek compromise with the Government on this issue.

Sant Bhindranwale’s participation in the agitation was with the sole aim of getting Amrik Singh and Thara Singh released. In August 1983, when they were set free, Bhindranwale’s main objective had been achieved. After that the Morcha was entirely for Akali demands. However, problems arose when the Akalis, fearful of Sant’s rising popularity among the Sikh youth, wanted to end the Morcha and negotiated with the Government in violation of their own Ardaas at Siri Akal Takhat Sahib. Sant Bhindranwale was adamantly opposed to this violation. To get over the situation, there were attempts to assassinate the Sant possibly supported by Akalis and/or the Government. I provide the following quotes regarding this.

  1. Press Conference on 15 September 1983, reported in Surjit Jalandhry’s book “Bhindranwale Sant” page 66. Sant Bhindranwale said:

“Thee murderous attempts were made on my life during the past few days, but by God’s grace, I escaped unhurt every time. The first attempt on my life was made in the Parkarma. The assailant was waiting for me in the stairs leading to the Temple. My disciples grew suspicious and caught hold of him before he could take out his pistol. He was brought to Guru Nanak Niwas where he confessed that he had a hand in the conspiracy to murder me. He was let off after administering a warning. During the next attempt, the assailant followed me up to Room No. 47 in Guru Nanak Niwas but his pistol fell down on the way. The third attempt to kill me was made in Gurdwara Manji Sahib.”

  1. Chand Joshi, Bhindranwale: Myth and Reality, Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi, page 118.

“It is obvious that some persons/organizations had mixed a certain amount of poison in his food. But given the traditional Indian ‘efficiency’ it was just not enough to kill him. On 23 September, Bhindranwale’s condition was reported to be critical with his urine containing 40 percent blood”.

  1. Chand Joshi, Bhindranwale: Myth and Reality, Vikas Publishing House, New Delhi, page 21. Joshi describes an attempt on 1 June 1984 by the military to kill
    the Sant: “At a silent order four shots were aimed in a vain effort to assassinate this fountainhead of terror”

The attack on the Darbar Sahib complex was the ultimate attempt to eliminate the Sant. Even though the Deputy Commissioner, Amritsar assured the Governor he could arrest the Sant at any time, Indira Gandhi had larger purposes beyond the life of one man. Laura Lopez, writing in the Time magazine of 25 June 1984, stated:

“By early this year, it was apparent to her that Bhindranwale had become so popular he had usurped the Akalis’ authority, leaving the party impotent in negotiations and fearful of his violent fanaticism. No matter how long she talked to the Akalis. Mrs. Gandhi concluded, they could never deliver on an agreement that would hold while Bhindranwale was alive.”

Is it criminal to be popular? Should a person and all his associates be condemned to death for this crime? We need to ponder over it.

To make the attack acceptable to the general public in India, the Sant had to be shown up as a Frankenstein. When governments have to kill popular persons they have to first criminalize them in the eyes of the public. Even in the case of Siri Guru Tegh Bahadur Saihb, the government at that time described him as a dacoit engaged in plunder to justify his beheading. In the case of Sant Bhindranwale, this was systematically done with cooperation from the Akalis. The massacre of Sikhs that followed was to teach a lesson to this troublesome minority. According to Joyce Pettigrew: “The army went into Darbar Sahib not to eliminate a political figure or a political movement but to suppress the culture of a people, to attack their heart, to strike a blow at their spirit and self-confidence.”

I hope I have made clear that Sant Bhindranwale did not get involved in politics. He was a simple preacher and had no political ambitions. On the other hand, it was politicians who surrounded him and, in killing him, also destroyed all the good work he had done in his parchar. I understand that today Punjab leads every other state in India in consumption of alcohol and drugs. Sant Bhindranwale was a scapegoat dubbed as Congress agent by the Akalis while he lived and eventually killed by the Congress government along with the revival he had so ably led.

Dharmak people: beware of politicians! My fellow Sikhs: learn from Sant Bhindranwale’s experience. Do not teach people to be good, do not become too popular, and do not protest when they torture and kill your associates. If you have tried all means for redress and no one comes to help; and oppression, torture, and killings in custody continue, blame the victims for provoking the perpetrators. In any case, do not invoke Siri Guru Gobind Singh Sahib’s Zafarnama and defend yourselves and your homes. It can be viewed as a deadly crime in the “world’s largest democracy”.

Courtesy: Ranbir Singh Sandhu USA

It is generally alleged that Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale who launched struggle for the achievement of Khalistan was himself settled at Akal Takht at the time of Operation Bluestar alone.

              It is amazing how a lie has been repeated and infinitum to malign an innocent person with his followers and an entire community for respecting him. Many people in India, not having access to sources, have been misled to believe he was a terrorist bent upon dismemberment of their beloved country.

Another Sikh scholar KS Chawla states:

“Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale who launched struggle for the achievement of Khalistan was himself settled at Akal Takht at the time of Operation Bluestar alone. It is amazing how a lie has been repeated amid infinitum to malign an Inocent person with his followers.

“Bhindranwale was heading the Damdami Taksal when he started the campaign for Khalistan.”

Indian Government gave it to the Sikhs, we shall accept it and not repeat the mistakes of 1947.” Apparently, he did not even know that at no stage was Khalistan even considered in 1947.

Second lie is that he started the campaign for Khalistan when he was heading the Damdami Taksal.

The first call of separate Sikh homeland was made by Master tara Singh before independence. It was demanded again by Jagjit Singh Chauhan and did not have the support of either Sant Bhindranwale or the large majority of Sikhs. Earlier Sardar Khushwant Singh listed the requirements for survival of Sikhi in his “History” (1963 edition). A specific region where Sikh heritage would be respected and be part of educational curriculum was one of these.

Sant Bhindranwale did support the demands contained in the Anandpur resolution. This resolution demanded a certain amount of autonomy for Punjab and was not a demand for dismemberment of India. The Sant had not even seen the resolution till the middle of 1983. His support was based solely upon his acceptance of the position of the Akali leadership on the issue. He publicly stated many times that he had no political ambitions and that the Akali Dal was the sole representative party for Sikhs. Later, he opposed Akalis’ softening stand regarding the Resolution on the basis that they had said an Ardaas at Siri Akal Takhat Sahib on 4 August 1982 (the day the Dharam Yudh Morcha started) where they had invoked God and Guru’s blessing and vowed not to accept anything less than the resolution. He took the position that having said that Ardaas, it didn’t behoove them as Sikhs to go against their vows. His opposition was never violent. He only told the public that in case the Akalis compromised on their Ardaas, he would let the public know about it and then it would be up to the Sangat to decide what to do.

The third lie in the report is that he had entrenched himself at the Akal Takhat. He lived in Guru Nanak Niwas till, in December 1983, he was challenged by the Babbar Khalsa and asked to vacate the rooms he and his followers were occupying in that building. He never lived in the Akal Takhat building. He occupied a room adjacent to the building. Also, Darbar Sahib was under SGPC control at all times. In fact, in one of his speeches, Sant Bhindranwale complained to the Sangat and asked them if they had noticed that he never spoke from Manji Sahib Diwan Hall (after September 1983). He explained that he had been told not to do so. Evidently, the people who barred his speaking in Manji Sahib Diwan Hall had control of the premises and not the Sant.

Many other lies have been told about him and now, treating these false accusations as facts, any one who knows better and shows him respect is branded an extremist, a militant, and a terrorist.

So the fate of Indira was also written the day Indian army attacked on the Golden temple. Sikh people can forget everything but can never forget  that attack on their places of worship or disrespect to their Guru. Thus Indira had signed herself her own death warrant by order of this attack.

AS Randhawa

Ajmer Singh Randhawa.



One Response to “June 1984, Light of Truth – 16.”

  1. June 1984, Light of Truth – 15. | Voice of Sikh nation Says:

    […] another WordPress.com weblog « June 1984, Light of Truth – 14. June 1984, Light of Truth – 16. […]

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