On Rafale deal, two types of argument are in the air. First, some leaders are seen indulging openly in gutter politics using all kinds of foul language targeting their opponents. Some other leaders are engaged in exploiting the martyrdom of former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi in order to gather sympathy of the voters on the eve of general elections to Lok Sabha. True, the two leaders died under tragic circumstances. However, can it be said that the Punjab policy of Indira Gandhi was right? Who does not know that it was Indira Gandhi who created Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale in the initial days of militancy in Punjab? It was Indira Gandhi who provided all kinds of assistance to Bhindranwale. He was associated with a small ‘Sikh Dera’. Later on Bhindranwale became a symbol of Sikh militancy a Frankenstein.
Sikh militancy was encouraged in Punjab by the Congress leadership resulting in large scale violence to weaken the hold of the Akalis in Punjab politics. Hundreds of innocent people were killed in violence. By the time the government opened its eyes, it was too late. Bhindranwale entered the Akal Takht of the Golden Temple in Amritsar with his armed militant followers. The result was Army attack on Akal Takht to eliminate Bhidranwale and his armed men. Can the attack on Akal Takht with tanks and guns on its own men be held justifiable by any responsible citizen of the country?
If one introspects with true feelings, can we say that we are better country than China’s dictatorship rule? Remember the date — June 3-4 of 1989. China had run tanks on its protesting students in Tiananmen Square in Beijing. The Tiananmen Square massacre is a dark spot of world history. Had the Indira Gandhi government taken right steps to control the militancy in Punjab the attack on the Golden Temple in 1984 could have been averted?
I remember the late Lt. Gen. S K Sinha who said something one evening out of cuff. Lt Gen Sinha loved me like his younger brother. Gen Sinha’s father and my father were friends. They often used to meet at congregation of Divine Life Society. I used to address Gen Sinha by his nick name “Manne Bhaiya”. When he retired as the Governor of Jammu & Kashmir and Governor of Assam, he settled in Vasant Kunj in Delhi. I would often meet him at his Delhi’s residence.
One day he came for lunch at my Noida residence. It was winter and we were enjoying the sun on the terrace. Manne Bhaiya was less an Army General and more a thinker-philosopher. I told him that he should write his memoirs.
“Forget it. It is better that I don’t open my mouth”, he said.
“Alas had Mrs. Gandhi accepted my advice the situation would not have come to attack the Golden Temple”, he added.
What had happened, I asked out of curiosity.
Gen Sinha was quiet. He had closed his eyes and there was palpable tension on his face.
“That night Mrs. Gandhi called me. She told me that Bhindranwale had gone out of control, He had to be stopped now”, Mrs. Gandhi added. She appeared agitated. Mrs. Gandhi went on telling me the government plan to check Bhindranwale. I kept listening to her patiently.
Once she finished, Indira Gandhi looked at me and asked, “Did you listen to what I said”.
“I listened to everything. But you tell me if you want Bhindranwale alive or dead or you would like to destroy the Golden Temple.
“Do what I said and do it within 24 hours”, Mrs. Gandhi told me.
“Not in 24 hours but I can accomplish the mission in a week without doing any damage to the Golden Temple”, I said.
“How will you do”, she wanted to know.
“Bhindranwale and his men don’t have enough rations. They come out to use toilets. If we can disconnect power supply and stop movement they can’t hold for more than a week. Without using force we can make them to surrender with minimum use of force and minimum casualty”, I said.
She was not convinced so it appeared to me. She looked at me and after some pause said, “You may go”.
I knew she will do what she has decided to do. She had already made up her mind. She got the plan executed by my colleague Gen Vaidya. What happened in the aftermath is known. Both Indira Gandhi and Gen Vaidya were assassinated.
The Operation Blue Star left a bloody trail in the history of modern India. Hundreds of Sikhs were killed. The Intelligence Bureau had advised Mrs. Gandhi to withdraw Sikh armed security guards for her. But she refused to listen. The result was, her security guards killed her on October 31, 1984.
How anyone can justify the killing of innocent Sikhs in Delhi and elsewhere in the country? Many Congress leaders including Sajjan Kumar, Jagdish Tytler, HKL Bhagat, Dharvir Shastri, and others were allegedly involved in the massacre of Sikhs in Delhi. It is also difficult to justify Operation Blue Star. The assassination of Indira Gandhi is termed like ‘martyrdom’ of Mahatma Gandhi and Bhagat Singh. It is a conscious attempt by the Congress Party to name Indira Gandhi as a martyr like Gandhi and Bhagat Singh.
Even the assassination of former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi was a result of the lopsided foreign policy of his government. The mission of the Indian Peace Keeping Force in Sri Lanka was wrong. More than 1,150 Indian armed forces jawans were killed during the operation in Sri Lanka.
In Delhi when you go to Paschim Vihar you will find a road after the name of Maj (Dr.) Ashwani Kanwa. Maj Kanwa had gone in the mission in 1987 in Jafna. He was a student of Government School in Sarojni Nagar and then he studied medical science in University College of Medical Sciences.
When the terrorists of LTTE attacked a camp of the Indian Army in Jafna, Dr. Kanwa was there. He rushed inside the camp to provide medical aid to the injured soldiers. As he was busy doing his job, an LTTE man fired at him. He died there. Maj was 28 year old and his family was looking for a match for marriage. This story was narrated to me by his father.
In 1991, Rajiv Gandhi fell to a human bomb planted by the LTTE. The Tamils in Sri Lanka became his enemy, The Intelligence Bureau had advised Rajiv Gandhi not to visit Tamil Nadu for election campaign. Even the then Governor of Tamil Nadu Bhishma Narain Singh had advised Rajiv Gandhi to cancel his programme over telephone. But he refused to listen to warning. He lost his life. In this backdrop, how far it is justifiable to place Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi at the pedestal of martyrs.
The nation wants a new definition of martyrdom and our leaders to exercise restraint and desist from abusing one another in language that is foul.
(The writer is a Member of Parliament, Rajya Sabha.)
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