Operation Blue Star
– A Holy War of the Sikhs –
A Review by Hardev Singh
Author & Publisher : Dr Bhagwan Singh Mokel
Price : Rs 75 ; Pages : 80
Revised Edition : 2006
The book under review is a collection of some essays published by the author in The Sikh Review and other magazines. It is a strange mix of 3 essays on Operation Blue Star and the remaining 3, on a 'Peep into the North-East'. Perhaps, the author wants to highlight his contribution of starting a dialogue between Sikh Students Federation and the Militant organizations of North-East. The 6 essays are followed by 4 Appendices. There have been about half a dozen books on Operation Blue Star by some learned authors in both English and Punjabi. The only justification for this booklet may be author's claim of being an eye-witness to the Operation Blue Star in the capacity of a close confidant of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwala. My only motivation in reviewing this book is that I know some of the key-players who participated in the action along with Bhagwan Singh.
In the Introduction, the author pleads the case of Dalits and other minorities who are facing a threat from Hindutva forces let loose during the rule of BJP from 1999 to 2004. He compares BJP policies to the Nazi policies of the Second World War time. The author considers position of India's national integration as very alarming in face of threats posed by various militant organisations operating from Assam right upto Tamilnadu. The recent events in Jharkhand and Chhatisgarh vindicate the author's assertion. The network of militant organizations is much stronger compared with the poor performance of security forces in these states. The author repeats the same old argument that the Sikhs were a third party during transfer of power by the British, but they were cheated by the Congress leaders. It seems the author supports the thesis of Sirdar Kapoor Singh regarding partition of India.
Chapter 1 deals with the causes and ramifications of the Operation Blue Star. It is mostly a rehash of old facts published in magazines and known to most awakened readers in Punjab. Chapter 2 is repeat of an article published in The Sikh Review (June 2003). The author recounts his eye-witness account of the events that took place in Golden Temple complex from 4th to 6th June, 1984. In author’s own words: “I always feel that my providential duty to be there at this very sensitive and hectic period of Sikh history was to depict these events as an eyewitness account in writing for the posterity”. It makes interesting reading how the author and his comrades fought with Indian military under the command of General Subeg Singh. It is true that Sant Bhindranwala acted as a role model for Sikh youth defending Golden Temple complex during Operation Blue Star, but I fail to appreciate why the author and his comrades ran way from the field of action without facing the bullets in the spirit of true Khalsa!
Chapter 3 recounts the impact of the Operation Blue Star on the Sikh psyche. The author makes a correct assessment: “What happened in Delhi and other places to the Sikhs after Indira Gandhi’s assassination simply added fuel to the already burning fire, and it filled the hearts of the Sikh youth to take revenge”. Many young Sikh students ran away from their homes and joined militant ranks during this phase. The author is at his best when he narrates his escapades from Punjab, Calcutta and Ranchi, dodging CID and police following him day and night. On page 31, the author remarks: “Sikhs everywhere in the world were first shaken by the attack on Golden Temple and then after assassination of Indra Gandhi, by their massacre. The Sikhs came to know that they were slaves in India. But how to break the chains of this slavery? This appeared to be a million dollar question.”
In the next three chapters, the author takes a detour and recounts his interactions with militant leaders of North-East, namely, Assam and Nagaland. The author seems to enjoy a good rapport with these militant organizations and he has a word of praise for AASU (page 41). "Compared to the Sikhs, the N-E people may not be as brave but they are more informed and highly educated, and have international knowledge about the politics and movements going on.”
I highly appreciate the role played by the author to bring Sikh militants under the political leadership of Simranjit Singh Mann. I endorse his viewpoint that Mann was riding the crest of popularity in Punjab after wining December 1989 elections to Parliament. Prakash Singh Badal and his Akali Dal were reduced to non-entity in Sikh politics. Mr Mann frittered away his energies by meddling in non-issues like wearing a long Kirpan in Parliament House. The author narrates how Mr. Mann panicked and failed to muster enough moral courage to accept his proposal to become legitimate political leader of the Sikh militant organizations. On page 38, the author laments : “I have not yet found any logic behind his (Mann’s) act of refusal to take command of the Sikh militant organizations. He also squandered chances to become Chief Minister of Punjab and of rehabilitation of the militants, and the history of Punjab and the Sikhs would have been different now.”
Despite a long list of mis-spelt words given in corrigendum, I advise the author to get his story checked and corrected by a subject expert for removing the flaws in his English version. No reviewer will take the trouble of recording mistakes and howlers found almost on every page of the book.
ęCopyright Institute of Sikh Studies, 2007, All