– startling revelations by Maj Gen J S Jamwal (retd)
Major General J S Jamwal, then GOC, 15 Infantry Division,
who was instrumental in rescuing Sant Harchand Singh Longowal
and Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra, then presidents of the
Shiromani Akali Dal and the SGPC, respectively, on their
“personal request” amidst Operation Bluestar
has alleged the Army operation was not only “ill-advised”
but “ill-conceived” by the powers that be.
Giving an account of the Army operation, opposition by some
saner Army officers, who had perceived better alternative
by avoiding collateral damage to Akal Takht and its ramifications,
Gen Jamwal today claimed here that the former Prime Minister
late Indira Gandhi had bypassed the then army chief and
called the Western Army Commander Gen Sundarji to direct
him to take immediate steps to clear the holy shrine of
the militants hiding there.
Gen Jamwal said Akali leaders late Jathedar Tohra and late
Sant Longowal were taken to cantonment through heavy security
cordon inspite of firing from militants. They were given
proper accommodation in the cantonment before they were
shifted to jail.
Gen Jamwal said he was the Garrison Commander at Amritsar
at that time but his views were also not sought, and added
there were other better alternatives, including cutting
of water, power and food supply to flush out Jarnail Singh
Bhindranwale and his firebrand followers who had taken refuge
in the building of Akal Takht. Such visionary step could
have saved many precious lives besides saving the sanctity
of the holy shrine. He said Army commanders supervising
the operations got panicky due to initial heavy casualties
of commandos in the Golden Temple complex.
He said the entire tactical planning was fraught with dangerous
repercussions which were aimed at dividing the countrymen.
The nation paid a very heavy price and has yet to recover
Making a revelation the General said Pakistan was queering
the pitch during the fateful operation and was trying to
make noises on radio sets and television about “fake
movement of troops” in a bid to frighten the Indian
Army which was waging a war against the holed up militants.
He said he was in charge of the security of the borders
and said they were prepared to meet any eventuality (attack)
from across the border.
The General said he played a key role in restoring the glory
of Harmandar Sahib and revealed that two senior Army officers
paid a heavy price for stealing some precious items from
the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple. He said he ordered
all those items taken away by the troops of a particular
battalion as souvenirs. These were returned to the SGPC
management and at least two senior officers were chargesheeted
for such misdeeds.
Major Gen J S Jamwal (retd), then General Officer Commanding
(GOC), 15 Infantry Division, Thursday claimed that he had
refused to accept the advice of two senior Army officers
to kill the militants taken into custody during Operation
Breaking his silence on remarks by certain Sikhs for the
first time after 24 years of Operation Bluestar that the
Army had killed many Sikh youths after capturing them from
the Golden Temple, General Jamwal said he had snubbed them
(Army colleagues) by telling them to let law take its course.
“I am not a butcher,” he told the two Army officers,
who wanted the captured militants eliminated. General Jamwal,
however, said being a religious person he took measures
to restore the confidence of the Sikh masses. As part of
the confidence building, he gave a two-hour curfew relaxation
after Operation Bluestar, despite opposition by then deputy
commissioner Ramesh Inder Singh (now chief secretary).
He said he was given the onerous task of restoring the sanctity
of the temple and had invited 11 persons, including Hindus
and Sikhs, when some prominent Sikh leaders, including the
then Jathedar, Akal Takht, Giani Kirpal Singh, gave went
to their rage. The General said the Operation had become
inevitable due to major threat to the pilgrims, but the
blame lay with all of us. He said he tried to douse fire
in the hearts of Sikhs through his humble and honest approach.
He had paved the way for reconciliation among different
communities which allowed normalcy inside the temple and
the then Jathedar, Akal Takht, agreed to address the Sikh
masses via television about the safety of Kotha Sahib.
He said he had also apologised to a group of Nihang Sikhs
whose dresses were torn by a JCO in a fit of rage on the
outskirts of the city. He said he gave them a fresh set
of clothes which led to the restoration of faith of people
in the Indian Army.
General Jamwal said he felt like resigning from his post
when the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had rejected
his proposal of undertaking kar sewa of the damaged Akal
Takht by the five designated Panj Pyaras (five beloved ones)
arranged by him through personal efforts. He said Indira
Gandhi wanted the kar sewa to be undertaken by the union
Giving the inside story of Operation Bluestar, General Jamwal
said the Army got perturbed when it failed to locate the
body of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale amidst rumours that he
had escaped from the rear side of Akal Takht. However, Army
officials heaved a sigh of relief when his body was found
from under the debris of a portion of Akal Takht. Later,
the body of Major-Gen Shabeg Singh (retd) was found on the
day when Giani Zail Singh, then President of India, visited
the Golden Temple after Operation Bluestar.
“We concealed the body of Shabeg Singh in the Akal
Takht complex itself, lest the President should see it”.
Narrating the sequence of events regarding fire in the Sikh
Reference Library and Museum in the precincts of the Golden
Temple during Operation Bluestar in June 1984, the then
GOC of Amritsar, Major-Gen J S Jamwal said since the initial
attack had not brought any success and the Army suffered
heavy casualties, the Army decided to use heavy artillery
to break the walls (of the library).
In this firing, the artillery shell pierced the walls near
the library to create a hole which led to fire in the library
and some of the precious manuscripts were burnt. He said
it was totally unintentional as the Army was not aware of
the library at the entrance of the complex. He, however,
said the Army had clear instructions not to fire any bullet
on the Golden Temple.
He said the Army under his charge retrieved some of the
books and manuscripts which were given to the SGPC authorities
after the Temple complex was handed over to the management.
On the Army’s failure to save its troops during the
initial attack on the Temple, he said this was due to the
lack of planning by the then Army Commander, Western Command,
Gen K Sundarji who was known for his flamboyance, but lacked
military mind to execute a properly planned operation. He
said General Sundarji had botched up a number of operations
under his charge and had brought disastrous results. He
also cited the example of an Indian Peace Keeping Force
(IPKF) operation in Sri Lanka which resulted in a bloody
nose to the Indian Army.
He said General Sundarji had literally brought India to
the brink of war with Pakistan during Brasstrack exercises
on the western front. Another example, General Jamwal said,
was General Sundarji’s planning to overawe the Chinese
on the northern frontier when he decided to take over certain
Chinese posts. Later, he realised his folly and decided
to pull back much to the embarrassment of the government.
General Jamwal said Indira Gandhi, then Prime Minister,
used to get direct feedback from General Sundarji who was
unable to provide her ground realities that left a permanent
scar on the psyche of a particular community. He said General
Sundarji had a good command of English, but lacked professional
skills. It was unfortunate that General Sundarji died a
In another revelation, General Jamwal said Major-Gen K S
Brar, who was called ‘Bulbul Brar’ by his colleagues,
got puzzled following the heavy casualties of Army commandos
on the first day of Operation Bluestar. (Courtesy : The
Tribune, dated 6,8,9 June 2008, respectively)
Libraries to have Books on Sikhism
Washington, January 16. To help disseminate information
about Sikhism, public libraries run by Montgomery County,
adjacent to Washington, DC, have agreed to include books
about the community in their collections.
The Guru Gobind Singh Foundation will provide books to the
libraries. The area has a sizeable Sikh population. Foundation
executive director Rajwant Singh appealed to the congregation
members to give generously for the library project.
He said Sikhs had been living in the USA for over 100 years
but not much information was available about them and their
religion to general public.
“This project will certainly ensure more education
about our community among non-Sikhs and it will also deter
any prejudice arising from ignorance about Sikh traditions
and Sikh observances,” he said.– UNI (Courtesy:
The Tribune, January 7, 2008)
Diaspora Seeks Representation at United Nations
Amritsar, January 16. Various Sikh organisations based in
the countries across the world have joined hands to seek
representation for the Sikh diaspora in the United Nations.
Serious efforts are afoot to float an international gurdwara
parbandhak committee so that burning issues relating to
the Sikh community, including ban on turban in France, could
be taken up at the world platform.
The American Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Pakistan Sikh
Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and the UK-based Sikh leaders
like Avtar Singh Sanghera and Manmohan Singh Bajaj have
discussed the issue with other Sikh leaders based in other
countries. More Sikh organisations have come forward to
support the cause.
President of Sri Guru Singh Sabha, Southall Middlesex, UK,
Himmat Singh Sohi has called upon the world Sikh leadership
to get united on a single platform to get the common problems
of the Sikhs resolved. Sohi emphasised the need for a mature
leadership at the world level, which could be possible by
floating an international gurdwara parbandhak committee
or a similar association. UK-based Sikh scholar Jasdev Singh
has endorsed the views of Mohi.
Sikh leaders based in different countries are likely to
meet the Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti,
for his approval for the proposed committee.
“I think there is a need for Sikhs to share their
experiences and address their issues through international
institutions as well as in the countries where they are
based. Perhaps the time has come to establish an international
association of gurdwaras. Such an organisation could seek
NGO consultative status at the United Nations similar to
that given to major bodies of other religions. Sri Guru
Singh Sabha will be willing to work with any gurdwara-based
organisation towards this goal,” he said.
Earlier, SGPC’s ambitious plan of incorporating 10
NRI Sikhs in its general House ran into rough weather with
the American diaspora rejecting it.
American Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee president Yadvinder
Singh is of the opinion that the need of the time for Sikhs
was an international body of gurdwaras rather than NRI co-options
to the SGPC.
The AGPC chief said the body should get membership at the
United Nations as there was no representative body of the
Sikhs at the UN. All other religions have representative
bodies at the UN. (Courtesy : The Tribune 17 January 2008)
Apropos news Item ‘Sikh Diaspora seeks representation
at United National’, it is for the information of
our diaspora brethren that such an umbrella organization
for all the Sikhs all over the globe has started functioning
under the brand name ‘International Sikh Confederation’
(ISC) registered with its head quarters at Plot No 1, Madhya
Marg, Sector 28, Chandigarh. It can be accessed through
website www.sikhconfed.net and contacted through e-mail
firstname.lastname@example.org, telephone 0091-172-2657381.
This representative Sikh body, with its comprehensive Constitution,
giving representation to the major Sikh institutions, gurdwaras
and individual Sikhs from all over the world, consists of
Sikh scholars, intellectuals and professionals from varied
fields. It aims at highlighting the emerging challenges
to the Sikh Panth in the twentyfirst century and providing
well-thought-out solutions to the various problems confronting
the Sikh Panth. Its five advisory councils on religion,
education, ecomonic affairs, legal affairs, and media headed
by brilliant professionals are actively involved in sorting
out issues related to these areas and projecting a unified
and uniform response to these issues. All human rights issues
concerning Sikhs, including the issue of representation
of Sikhs in the United Nations, are being taken up by the
Legal Affairs Advisory Council, ISC, headed by Justice Mota
Singh. Let us all join and make concerted efforts to address
all such issues.
– Associate Editor
– British priest regrets UK soldiers’ role –
Amritsar, April 6. “I feel regret and shame at the
thought of soldiers from my birthplace firing indiscriminately
on innocent Indians at Jallianwala Bagh in 1919,”
said Priest Jean Mayers at the office of Diocese of Amritsar
Born and brought up in the UK, Mayers, a priest of Haywood
Ticktoria in Australia, is here as part of a 12-member delegation.
“Visiting the scene of the firing, I was moved by
the well into which scores of people jumped during the massacre.
The bullet marks are still intact on walls. My heart is
filled with remorse and I hang my head in shame,”
he said. I apologise for the British army’s act during
India’s struggle for Independence. Inside the memorial,
I got the feeling as if I was at a holy place.”
The delegation from Australia, led by Dr Robert Boss, is
here to participate in a seminar on communal harmony organised
by Guru Nanak Study Department of Guru Nanak Dev University
Growing religious fanaticism across the world that had sparked
violence in some countries was the topic of the seminar.
More interaction among people from different religions was
emphasised. Bishop Pradeep Kumar said though history couldn’t
be undone, kind words of Mayers would gave solace to those
who had lost their dear ones in the massacre.
Danial B Das, coordinator, socio economic development programme,
said there were still certain countries in the world occupying
areas without the wish of the local people and it needed
to be condemned. (Courtesy : The Tribune April 7, 2008)
Father-son Duo makes it to Malaysian House
Chandigarh, May 4. Malaysian ethnic Punjabi Karpal Singh
and son Gobind Singh Deo have created history by becoming
the first-ever father-son duo to be elected members of a
Parliament in the world.
Though members of the Indian diaspora in general and Punjabis
in particular have made commendable achievements in political
arenas of their new abodes (countries), never before have
an ethnic Punjabi father-son duo got elected to an Assembly
or Parliament anywhere in the world.
The only parallel of two members of an ethnic family getting
elected to the highest House of a country has been in Canada
where the husband-wife team of Gurmant Grewal and Neena
Grewal got into the House of Commons from British Columbia
province some years ago.
For Karpal Singh, it is his seventh entry to Malaysian Parliament
while it is a debut entry for his son. Indian MP (Rajya
Sabha) Tarlochan Singh, in a letter to Karpal Singh, congratulated
him for his win.
A lawyer by profession, Karpal Singh is also the chairman
of the main Opposition party, the Democratic Action Party
(DAP). Known in Malaysia as “Tiger of Jelutong”,
Karpal now moves in a wheelchair following a major road
accident in 2005.
Though Karpal originally comes from Punjab, he and his family
is known to have stood against injustice and fought many
an important court cases in Malaysia.
For Karpal Singh, entry into Parliament came at an unexpected
time. As he was mourning the death of his father, the DAP
leadership offered him candidacy from Penang. Before he
could accept the offer, he was named the candidate and since
then he has never looked back except for losing his seat
Recently, when a Malaysian minister identified Sikhs with
Bengalis during the Baisakhi celebrations, he appealed to
the community to ignore such remarks. At present, there
are over one lakh Sikhs in Malaysia.
Gobind Singh Deo is also a prominent lawyer and has been
assisting his father after he returned from Lincoln’s
Inn in 1996. Gobind’s younger brother, Jagdeep Singh
Deo, is now a member of the state Assembly for Datum Kermit
State in Penang. Karpal Singh and his sons are known for
their free legal aid and community services. (Courtesy :
Tribune 5 May 2008)
Protest Rally marks Baisakhi
– alleges discrimination and harassment in NY –
New York, April 15. Sikhs here led Baisakhi celebrations
by organising a rally protesting against the alleged discrimination,
bias and harassment faced by them.
While organising the rally yesterday, they also released
a civil rights agenda and a report, which were the result
of a year-long survey of 1000 Sikh members by the community
The report titled – Making Our Voice Heard: A Civil
Rights Agenda for New York City Sikhs – alleged that
a large gap existed between the law and the actual experiences
of the Sikh community.
State Assembly member Jose Rivera and City Council members
John Liu, David Weprin, Robert Jackson and Leroy Comerie
were also present in the rally. According to the report,
41 per cent of Sikhs had been called by derogatory names
or slurs; half of the Sikh students had experienced some
form of harassment at school based on their religion or
national origin; one in 10 Sikhs believed they had been
refused employment or a job promotion because of their community
identity; while about half of the Sikh immigrants did not
have any form of health insurance for either themselves
or their family members.
‘’The civil rights agenda not only helps to
identify and document the bias, discrimination and harassment
experienced by Sikhs in the city, but also takes the critical
step of putting forth a bold prescription on ways government
may best address these issues,’’ Liu said.
The report claimed that Sikhs in the United States suffered
from significant issues of bias and discrimination in all
walks of life.
‘’It is the coalition’s intention to continue
to address these issues both through research and advocacy,’’
the Sikh Coalition said, adding, ‘’On this Baisakhi
Day, we call on all Sikhs to stand up for their civil rights
and fearlessly maintain their articles of faith.’’
Sikhs are among the largest linguistic and religious groups
within the broader Indian-American community, which is estimated
to number about 3 million.
– way cleared for allowing reservation to sikh students
in SGPC institutions –
New Delhi, May 15. The Supreme Court today stayed an order
of the Punjab and Haryana High Court that declared that
“Sikhs are not a minority in Punjab”. Today’s
order of the apex court will pave the way for allowing reservation
to Sikh students in educational institutions being run by
The high court in its order had said there was nothing to
show from the written statement filed by the state of Punjab
that it had any material or even a grievance from Sikhs.
The order had led to the quashing of two crucial notifications
of the Punjab government.
The first notification allowed Sikh educational institutions
run by the SGPC to reserve up to 50 per cent seats exclusively
for members of the Sikh community on the basis that Sikhs
are a minority community.
The second notification was issued under the Punjab Private
Health Sciences Educational Institutions Act, whereby Christian
and Sikh educational institutions were notified to be minority
institutions in Punjab for the purposes of the said Act.
The impact of the stay on the HC order means that Christian
Medical College, Ludhiana, and the SGPC-run schools, colleges
and health institutes will have the freedom as enshrined
under the Constitution that allows special status for minority-run
Going by the procedure, it may take quite some time even
before the case can be listed for hearing by the SC, leave
alone deciding it.
Arguing the matter in the SC, Punjab’s counsel Ajay
Pal said the high court had failed to appreciate that there
were a number of sects like Nirmalas, Udasis, Ram Raias,
Dera Sacha Sauda, Radha Soami’s and Nirankaris, etc.,
who cannot be considered to be Sikhs.
They have been recognised as schismatic and distinct from
Sikhs. Some of these and other sects believe in a living
guru, which is contrary to the basic tenet of the Sikh faith.
This fact has even been judicially recognised. The adherents
of these sects commonly describe themselves Sikhs and hence
are even enumerated as Sikhs in the census. Thus, the census
figures ought not to be used as the basis to disturb the
minority status granted to Sikh institutions run by the
Punjab while appealing against the order of the High Court
had quoted various judgements in the past 80 years or which
had delinked Udasis, mahants and deras from Sikhism.
The state also pleaded that the All India Gurdwaras Act,
1925, clearly defined the term Sikh and who could be counted
‘The Rise of Khalsa’ makes it to NY
Ludhiana, May 27. “The Rise of Khalsa”, a documentary
directed by Jagmeet Samundari, a passout of Panjab University,
has been selected for screening at the New York International
Film Festival to be held in Los Angeles slated for July
this year. The documentary will be screened in New York
later this year.
Confirming the development, Samundari on his visit to surrounding
areas in the district recently said he was finalising the
locales for his forthcoming documentary on Guru Gobind Singh.
He said, “I received a message from the organisers
regarding the screening of my film, ‘The Rise of Khalsa’,
at the film festival from July 17 to 24. The review of the
selection panel reads, ‘Very good overall’.
This film is about Sikh religion and its struggle against
the Mughals in India and how the Khalsa Panth was founded
from the Sikh religion”.
After passing out from Panjab University with masters in
mass communication, Samundari shifted base to Mumbai in
2000. He worked as an assistant director with Ajay Devgan’s
father, Veeru Devgan, in “Hindustan Ki Kasam”.
He also acted in a number of teleserials, including
“Aap Beeti,” “Awaaz” and “Sab
Gol Maal Hai”.
Samundari said,“During the process of exploring different
avenues in the entertainment industry, it struck me that
Sikhism could offer a wide range of subjects for exploration,
under the camera. Besides learning at the individual level,
there are less-discussed aspects about the religion which
I wanted to explore”.
“The Rise of Khalsa” throws light on the formation
of the Khalsa Panth, beginning from its historical perspective
to the announcement of its establishment by Guru Gobind
Singh in 1699.
The message from the US makes a special mention about the
choice of locations, historical re-enactment and image quality
of the picture.
Produced by Baljit Mankku, the documentary is comparable
to the standards of the Discovery channel. The script links
history to the present. (Courtesy : The Tribune, May
Sikh Museum, Nanded
Nanded: Perhaps it is time for Sikh museums to spring up
in many places, and the development is in keeping with the
fervour of religiosity inspired largely by the Diaspora
efforts and the celebrations of the Guru’ta Gaddi
Diwas. Now it seems a state-of-the-art Sikh museum is set
to come up at Nanded at a cost of Rs 20 crore as part of
tercentenary celebrations of Guru’ta Gaddi Diwas.
The development has been confirmed by Nanded’s Takht
Sachkhand Sri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib Gurdwara Board Chairman
Dr P S Pasricha, who said latest technologies will be used
in the new museum.
“Visitors will be imparted information about Sikh
religion in either of four languages - Punjabi, English,
Hindi and Marathi. The touch screen systems, latest gadgets,
and many attractions will punctuate the over 30,000 square
feet area. The museum will employ graphics and animation
strategies and technology shall be put to use to pass on
the message of Sikh Gurus to youth, particularly those residing
abroad, to save them from ever-increasing western culture
influence,” Pasricha, the former Maharashtra police
The first phase of this museum-cum-art gallery would be
made operational in 13,000 square feet area within next
two months, while the entire project would be completed
by October-end. Pasricha said approximately 11 acres of
land surrounding the complex was being developed with landscaping
and fountains. Fountain shows are being planned for the
night to describe Sikh religion.
Pasricha also said Godavari riverfront is being developed
and construction of 100-feet roads on both sides of the
river was undertaken by the board. Godavari will form an
aquaduct and will provide a feeling of divinity and spirituality
to all those who will enjoy the fascinating scenery of the
original Godavari. Efforts
were on to tap religious tourism with construction of special
NRI Yatri Niwas with luxurious rooms and suites of international
Pasricha is also leading efforts to ensure that the new
airport at Nanded, likely to be operational from May 1,
2008, be named after Guru Gobind Singh.
Humanity benefits from those individuals who find time for
others. There was one such individual “Sri Guru Gobind
Singh Ji”, who, in the Vaisakhi of 1699, created the
brotherhood of the Khalsa and changed the face of India
and our destiny, (and I dare say the world!) by putting
the welfare of his fellow humans above that of himself and
his family. I shudder to think what would have been the
future of India, if Guru Gobind Singh had not created the
brotherhood of the Khalsa to defend the basic human rights
of every Indian and had not fought against the tyranny and
injustices of the Moghul Emperor, Aurangzeb. Before Guru
Gobind Singh Ji, Indians used to die for India and now we
kill to protect India. He changed cowards into warriors
for the defence of their motherland. Guru Gobind Singh Ji
personally used weapons to defend the human rights of oppressed
Guru Gobind Singh Ji sacrificed his father, his children
and himself so that India and mankind could be saved. His
creation of the Khalsa not only defeated the Mughal but
also helped create the first secular kingdom in India under
Maharaja Ranjit Singh, where every one was equal, regardless
of their religion or caste. His ideology gave birth to martyrs
like Bhagat Singh and Udham Singh who helped defeat the
British and gain freedom for India.
It is on record that his creation of the brotherhood of
the Khalsa is making more sacrifices for India than any
other community in India in direct proportion to its numbers.
Even after India’s independence, his creation, the
Sikhs, continued to fight for the defence and integrity
of India in line with the traditions established over 300
hundred years ago by Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
Waheguru ji ka Khalsa Waheguru ji ki Fateh. May you always
celebrate Vaisakhi in style to commemorate the birth of
Khalsa. All of us should be aware that Vaisakhi is no ordinary
day in the lives of Indians.
Capt Tajinder Singh Gill
Email : <email@example.com>