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Indira Gandhi was aware of her life threat: Pranab Mukherjee

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New Delhi: Indira Gandhi knew her life was at risk when she decided to go for militarily storm the Golden Temple, President Pranab Mukherjee reveals in the second part of his memoirs released on Thursday.

“The Turbulent Years, 1980-1996” (Rupa) says that “criminals, smugglers and anti-social elements” had joined the Khalistan movement and recalls that the Golden Temple had become a safe haven for them.

The President writes that talks with the Akali Dal failed due to its rigid stance, and last ditch efforts were made shortly before “Operation Blue Star” – as the military operation was codenamed – was launched.

Even a few days before Operation Blue Star, an attempt was made to find a solution by holding a meeting with the Akali Dal leaders who were brought from jail to the lounge of the Chandigarh airport at midnight.

“PV Narasimha Rao, Cabinet Secretary Krishnaswamy Rao Sahib and I represented the government in that meeting. Unfortunately, the talks remained unsuccessful,” he says in the book released at the Rashtrapati Bhavan by Vice President M Hamid Ansari.

By May 1984, it became increasingly clear that there was no alternative but military action to flush out the terrorists within the Golden Temple, particularly as the negotiations and discussions had not yielded the desired results.

The decision to storm the Golden Temple was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA) but no official was present at the meet, Mukherjee writes.

Operation Blue Star was launched at the Golden Temple on June 3, 1984, with the army entering the premises.

Mukherjee then writes how Gandhi told him she was aware of the threat to her life.

“I still vividly recall Mrs Gandhi telling me, ‘Pranab, I know of the consequences.’  She understood the situation well and was clear that there was no other option.” he added.

“Aware that her own life was at risk, she took a conscious decision to go ahead in the best interest of the nation.”

Mukherjee defends the operation, calling the situation in Punjab at that time “abnormal”.

“It is easy to say that the military action could have been avoided. However, nobody really knows if any other option would have worked. Such decisions are always taken based on the conditions prevailing at that time. The situation in Punjab was abnormal.”

He adds that the “biggest tragedy” of the whole event was the “loss of Mrs Gandhi”.

Her last speech in Orissa, two days before her assassination, was prophetic. She said, ‘I am alive today, I may not be there tomorrow… I shall continue to serve until my last breath and when I die, I can say that every drop of my blood will invigorate India and strengthen it’.

Gandhi was assassinated on October 31, 1984, at her Safdarjung Road residence in New Delhi by two of her bodyguards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh, in the aftermath of Operation Blue Star.( IANS)(Picture Courtesy: wikipedia)

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‘Government chalked out 1984 anti-Sikh genocide’

Operation Bluestar in June 1984 was regarded by some as ‘inevitable’.

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Protest against 1984 anti-Sikh riots. Facebook
  • Gandhi family dynasty involved in the genocide, as per the author
  • Western governments toed the line of their Indian counterpart and downplayed events
  • To bolster the insinuation that the Sikhs’, the government commissioned a series of documentaries in early 1984

New Delhi, December 12: The 1984 anti-Sikh riots following the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi that claimed the lives of an estimated 8,000 people in Delhi and around the country were not spontaneous as has been made out but were government-orchestrated, says a scathing new book on the four days of mayhem, adding it’s time the world took note of the killings, as it did of the slaughter of a similar number of Bosnian Muslims in 1994.“At the time, the authorities projected the violence as a spontaneous reaction to the tragic loss of a much-loved Prime Minister. But evidence points to a government-orchestrated genocidal massacre unleashed by politicians–with the trail leading up to the very heart of the dynastic Gandhi family–and covered up with the help of the police, judiciary and sections of the media,” author Pav Singh writes in ‘1984 – India’s Guilty Secret’.The government of the day “worked hard on its version of events. Words such as ‘riot’ became the newspeak of an Orwellian cover-up, of a real 1984. To protect perpetrators, the most heinous crimes have been obscured from view; evidence destroyed, language distorted and alternative ‘facts’ introduced. The final body count is anybody’s guess,” the author says.

Anti Sikh riots
According to the author, government was directly involved in the massacre

And yet, “what may well go down in history as one of the largest conspiracies of modern times is hardly known outside of India. At that time, Western governments toed the line of their Indian counterpart and downplayed events–arguably for fear of losing trade contracts worth billions–to the misnomer of ‘communal riots”, the author says.Pointing to a meeting held at the residence of then Information and Broadcasting Minister HKL Bhagat on the evening of October 31, hours after Gandhi was assassinated, and attended by an Additional Commissioner responsible for the capital’s Central, North and East districts, and the SHO of the Kalyanpuri police station, all of which bore the brunt of the violence, the author writes: “The foundation of their plan had, however, been laid well in advance and were in part the outcome of years of suspicion, misgivings and disagreements between the Centre and the state and its political, economic and social demands as framed by the Akali Dal, the governing Sikh-centric party in Punjab.”“It is believed that key players in the Congress government used the increasingly volatile situation in Punjab to blur the perception of the Sikh community in the eyes of their fellow citizens…These poisoned sentiments gathered such deadly momentum that the execution of Operation Bluestar in June 1984 was regarded by some as ‘inevitable’,” writes Pav Singh, a member of the Magazines and Books Industrial Council of Britain’s National Union of Journalists who has been campaigning on the issue for a number of years.To bolster the insinuation that the Sikhs’ desire for regional autonomy posed a national threat, the government commissioned a series of documentaries in early 1984. Mani Shankar Aiyar, Joint Secretary to the Government of India, was said, by an associate, to have claimed that “he was given the unpleasant job of portraying Sikhs as terrorists”. He was on some special duty with the Minister of Information and Broadcasting. The minister in question was none other than Bhagat, the book says.Pointing to an elaborate cover-up of the four days of mayhem, the author says a key figure in the deception was Home Secretary MMK Wali.“At a press conference on November 1, he insisted that most of the violence consisted of arson and that few personal attacks had occurred–in what seems an outrageous statement he even claimed that only two people had been confirmed killed in New Delhi.“He revised the figure to 458 on November 4 soon after being sworn in as Delhi’s new lieutenant governor. The Indian Express had reported on November 2 that in two incidents alone there were 500 dead, including 200 bodies lying in a police mortuary and at least 350 bodies on one street in East Delhi,” writes Pav Singh, who spent a year in India researching the full extent of the riots.His research led to the pivotal and authoritative report ‘1984 Sikhs’ Kristallnacht’, which was first launched in the UK parliament in 2005 and substantially expanded in 2009. In his role as a community advocate at the Wiener Library for the Study of Holocaust and Genocide, London, he curated the exhibition ‘The 1984 Anti-Sikh Pogrom Remembered’ in 2014 with Delhi-based photographer Gauri Gill.The book is highly critical of the manner in which subsequent governments have acted.Figures released in 2013 show that of the 3,163 people arrested in the capital, just 30 individuals in approximately as many years, mostly low-ranking Congress party supporters, had been convicted of killing Sikhs. This represents less than one per cent of all those arrested, the book says.“Out of those arrested, a staggering 2,706 were subsequently acquitted. Convictions for riot-related offences amounted to 412. One hundred and forty-seven police officers were indicted for their role in the killings, but not one officer has been prosecuted. Nobody has ever been prosecuted for rape,” the book says.It’s time India and the world called a spade a spade, the book says in its conclusion. IANS