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November 27, 2018


Guru Nanak’s Concept of Justice – Article discusses concept of justice according to Guru Nanak Dev Ji


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March 28, 2014


A detailed biography of Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji is added under the Sikh Gurus section.


March 10, 2014


Authenticity of Shabad Guru: Historical Perspective - Was Guru Granth Sahib ever declared a Guru or given Gurgaddi? This article refutes the Namdhari theories.

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Climax of the Mounting Plan

After outmaneuvering the Akali leaders and systematically depriving Punjab both economically and politically the Government now decided to execute the finale of its programme by a direct attack on the heart of Sikhism that gives strength and sustenance to the community. The three fold plan of the Government was aimed at, on the political front destroying the Akali party and its image, economic despoliation of the State and erosion of their nerve centre, the holiest of their holy.

As already noted, the Akali Dal was the only political party in the country with a strong mass and religious base and organi­sation which the Congress had not been able to demolish or absorb. Unlike other parties, its leadership was a challenge to the elite- ridden ideology of the Congress and other all India parties. 'Moreover it was only the Akali party which had given a lead to the country in resisting the oppressive Emergency regime of Indira Gandhi. The unfortunate part is that the Congress since Indepen­dence had, either out of bias or indiscretion, come to believe that the socio-religious identity and ethos of the Sikhs was a centrifugal force and should be combated and destroyed, it being a hurdle in the Hindu idea of re-establishing a homogenised nation. Moreover the big bites that the Congress had taken of the economic cake of Punjab could be successfully swallowed only if it could demolish or sap both the Akali party and its strong mass base.

The Centre had successfully subverted the formation of the Akali ministry from time to time. No Akali ministry, including the Akali-B.J.P. combine, was allowed to complete its full term. All the issues raised by the Dharam Yudh Morcha could be settled according to the law of the land through simple and constitutional measures. Even the much maligned Bhindranwale was prepared to accept a just and constitutional solution to the demands of the Morcha but unfortunately judicious solutions were being persisten­tly denied. The charges of secessionism, foreign intervention and threats to the unity and integrity of the country were nothing but stage managed shows created purely to serve ignoble communal interests and to camouflage the exploitative and oppressive policies and what we believe to be disintegrating and ruinous plans that were consistently be inn followed by the Centre. The Congress design was aimed at fomenting trouble in Punjab and then fully to exploit it for creating a feeling of insecurity among the Punjab Hindus and arouse natural sympathies for them in the rest of India. Fear of country’s disintegration was also instilled in their minds. This makes it clear why the solution of the constitutional demands was sidetracked and state repression and violence were continued.

We have already emphasised that the Punjab Reorganisation Act (1966) was a calculated measure to thwart all social, economic and political progress of Punjab and its people. The Government had also put the seal of its authority on the economic ruin of the State through unilateral Awards. Withdrawal of the water case from the Supreme Court was a blatant blow eventually leading to ruinous consequences. Thereafter the Government persisted in its one track approach of repression and suppression. After the Prime Minister had delivered a massive blow to the Akalis both economically and politically, her perceived motive was to devise more destructive strategies to hide her sinister plan and to show that the Sikhs were an aggressive lot, and not an aggrieved lot. It seemed to have become a political compulsion for her to put a pretense of negotiations to cover her designs.

Our narration has brought out, clearly and inevitably, two facts. The first is that all the intermediaries including Kuldip Nayar, Swaran Singh, Amarinder Singh, Harkishan Singh Surjeet, Dr. Ravi et. al. sent by Prime Minister to negotiate with the Akalis, the last time in May, 1984, had found an acceptable response from them, including the two Sants. The mediators were all intrigued to find their prompters hardly willing to listen to their success story. Dr. Ravi, the last intermediary who met Bhindranwale in the last week of May, 1984 found him in a very receptive mood. In an interview with Surya, Ram Jethmalani revealed some of the details of what transpired between Bhindranwale and Dr. Ravi. Bhindranwale who seemed to be convinced about Dr. Ravi’s sincerity of purpose told him in unequivocal terms: “You are a good man and a wise man, whatever settlement you will go and arrive at, I shall put my thumb impression on it,”1 Dr. Ravi reported the result of his conversation to R.L. Bhatia, President of the State unit of the Congress. The matter was passed on to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, but she backed out.2 Later Dr. Ravi was told that “we’ll talk only after the army action.”3

I K. Gujral also accused the Government of bad faith during the negotiations. In a statement, on May 6, 1984 he said, “It is ironical but true that on each time the final approval was denied in the name of the Prime Minister,”4 M. Farooqui, Secretary of the National Council of C.P.I. also accused the Prime Minister of acting with partisan considerations. In an interview with Patriot, he disclosed that in June 1983 the opposition parties (minus BJP) had evolved a formula for a reasonable political solution of the Punjab problem which had the approval of the Akali leadership too. H.N. Bahuguna, on behalf of the opposition, sent a letter to the Prime Minister spelling out the details of the formula. The Prime Minister’s response was not only negative but offensive in tone.5 Evidently these seeming moves for mediation by the Centre had an ulterior motive, very different from that of a settlement or the removal of the injustice involved. The pretense of negotiations was distinctly a measure of show to prepare the Indian public outside Punjab for the sinister plan for which preparations were being made for execution.6 The second fact is that for about a year or perhaps for over a larger period, the task of mounting military attack on the Golden Temple, Amritsar had been assigned to the army with a view to its swift execution.

The most dangerous signal ahead was the alienation of the Sikhs from the country’s mainstream, mainly because of the differ­ent sets of strategies which the Government applied to Punjab and the rest of the country. According to the Government reports violence in Punjab claimed 410 lives in a period of two years i.e. from August 4, 1982 to June 3, 1984.7 The Government publicised this figure in its White Paper in order to justify the array action. The figure of 410 included routine killings in the State and also 290 Sikhs killed in police firing and fake encounters It was noticed that while the Sikhs in Punjab were subjected to a brutal military action, no such action was proposed or planned against the culprits (mostly Hindus) of Hindu-Muslim riots in Bombay barely a month earlier (May 1984), which took a toll of more than 300 lives, apart from the loot and arson in which some people were roasted alive. The issue was hushed up, as the Government was making prepar­ations for an assault on Darbar Sahib. In an interview with India To-day, soon after the communal holocaust in Bombay and Bhiwandi, Bal Thakheray, Shiv Sena Chief said:

“This country must stand for Hinduism, I am sowing the seeds, let me see if we will reap the harvest.”8

It was amazing that the Government took no notice of such provocative utterances gloating over the Bhiwandi killings and calling them a seed which he had sown. A similar statement from the leader of a minority community would have aroused a chorus of protests and would have been construed, by both the Government and the media, as posing a serious threat to nation’s unity and integrity.

The contemplated attack and its preparations became a subject of expression in the press. Numerous Sikh and non-Sikh organi­sations and personalities spoke emphatically of the tragic, horren­dous and ruinous results of the proposed plan. Chandra Shekhar, President of the Janta Party who met Prime Minister Indira Gandhi some time before the attack, in order to ascertain her views said in a statement to the press: “Mrs. Gandhi told me she would never make the mistake of sending the Army into the Golden Temple and yet she did.”9

Even as the preparations for storming the Temple were complete, the Prime Minister kept giving assurances that ‘the Government would not resort to any such action which would cause more harm than good’. Even up to the last session of Parliament preceding the attack P.C. Sethi, the then Home Minister reiterated that the Government had no intention of invading the Temple.10 This is an extremely important and significant fact. It shows that both the Sikh and the non-Sikh opinion were extremely concerned about such a step and the evident consequences of it. Of these the Prime Minister had been clearly and repeatedly warned. This indicates three things. First, that she was fully aware as to how the Sikh world would take such an event. Second, that she was clearly wanting that either among the Sikhs or among their sympathisers outside the community an opinion may not grow to be vocal enough to thwart her plan. Third, that in full awareness of these warnings about the possible reactions and results, she was so, it would seem compulsively, bent upon her project that she went to the extent of even mis­leading both the people and some of the well-meaning public men.

Here it is necessary to reveal the kind of game Indira Gandhi was playing. In November 1983, she herself had written to Bhindranwale, a personal letter in her own handwriting appreciating his progressive views on social matters. Bhindranwale himself had shown this letter to Devinder Singh Duggal, Head of the Sikh Reference Library in the Darbar Sahib. The letter was kept in the Library but the valuable document was destroyed when the Library was burnt during the army action.11 While the public mind was fed on all sorts of lies, half-truths, exaggerated and one sided versions of the events, glaring facts such as above were advertently or inadvertently ignored by the media and the writers on Punjab. Rajiv Gandhi who had come to Chandigarh in the first week of May 1984 had chosen to describe Bhindranwale as a religious leader. Asked specifically by pressmen, “Is Bhindranwale an extremist?” He evaded a reply and said, “This is for you to evaluate.” He was further asked, “Do you think he is a political leader'?” Rajiv Gandhi responded positively, “He is a religious leader and has not shown any political inclina­tions so far.”11 In an interview, Subliash Kirepaker asked Bhindranwale as to what he thought of Rajiv Gandhi describing him as a religious leader without any political inclinations. He replied, “They call me a religious leader, they also say I am responsible for the slayings. Which version should I believe?”13 It was amaz­ing how a few weeks later he had suddenly become a terrorist, who along with his followers had to be flushed out of Darbar Sahib with the aid of the army. Khushwaat Singh observed:

“What induced Rajiv Gandhi, General Secretary of Congress-I, to give Bhindranwale a clean chit as a purely religious man and not a political leader at a time when his mother and her advisers were clearly planning to eliminate him?”14

Such self-contradictory facts, no historian can fail to note since these are simply covers to hide the underlying reality or a unified policy. It is obvious that the objective in implementing the plan was far more overriding and compulsive for the Centre than to evade or avoid it either because of the willingness of the Akalis to have a settlement or of the warnings of the calamitous results of such an act given by public men and institutions. Here it is relevant to reveal the operative impulse behind the so-called “operation”. For this purpose we would like to acquaint the reader with the significance which the Darbar Sahib has in the Sikh ethos.