Root cause of terrorism lies in fundamentalism which leads to fanaticism which in due course becomes terrorism or leads to terrorism. Thus fundamentalism, whether it is Muslim and even in Muslims between Shias and Sunis or it is Christian which is responsible for death of 6 million Jews under Hitler or Jewish which is mainly responsible for Jewish-Arab conflict in Palestine and West Asia (Jews being armed and supported by America while Palestinian by rest of Arabs. Fundamentalism is an evil whether it is communistic, which caused death of hundreds of thousands under Stalin for being anti Stalin or anti communistic or it is Buddhist under Dalai lama, which is causing trouble in Tibet and strong reaction in China or Hindu fundamentalism of Bajrang Dal and RSS which led to demolition of Babri Masjid or Sikh fundamentalism Leading to Dal Khalsa separatist (though as a reaction to attack on Golden Temple under Indira Gandhi’s Prime Minister-ship.)
Fundamentalism of any type or of any religion or of any ‘ism’ is an evil. It is a curse on humanity.
I therefore quote from Bhavani Singh’s article on Global Terrorism.
PSYCHO-DYNAMICS OF TERRORISM
Terrorism, having acquired a religious label in the name of Jehad or holy-war has become attractive to its followers and is rooted deep into their psyche. It arms them with suitable motivation to attempt something really big or spectacular, no matter at what cost. The frequent use of human bombs indicates not only the capability but also the commitment of terrorists to make the supreme sacrifice on the altar of and in the name of religion which makes it transnational. The activities of Pak-sponsored terrorism in Kashmir and Hamas- induced killings in Israel are instances in point. Apart from getting an immense amount of international publicity and media coverage through frenzied headlines, the urge for which is universal, the perpetrators of such crimes also receive a shot in their arms in the name of religion. Ayatollah Mohammed Hussain, in his treatise Islam and Violence, expressed his views on terrorism with striking candour. He said, “We don’t see ourselves as terrorists because we don’t believe in terrorism. We don’t see resisting the occupier as a terrorist action. We see ourselves as Mujahideens who fight a holy war (Jihad) for the people. Faith, whether religious or political is all. To the individual terrorist or supporter of terrorism, a murder can be an expression of defense of freedom, a car bomb which kills civilians can be a blow struck in a war of liberation, a kidnapping and a murder can be a step towards justice.”
With the disintegration of USSR, New independent Muslim Countries of former Soviet Union have become more aggressive and fanatical Muslims. This is evident from the fact “Turkmenistan had only four functional mosques before 1991, now the number is over 100. Similarly in Uzbekistan the number of mosques increased from 300 to 5000. Even Kyrgistan today has over 1000 mosques.”… Before 1991 no Muslim from these Muslim republics of USSR was going for Haj pilgrimage… “People going to Haj pilgrimage are being financially helped by Saudi Arabia. The result is that Islamic terrorist groups have sprung up in all central Asian Islamic Republics….and efforts now are for full scale Talibisation despite guarded local resistant” (Bhawani Singh’s article on Global Terrorism) These republics are close to Iran and have been helping Iran in getting nuclear know-how and latest technologies and equipment for nuclear bombs and missiles.
It will be apt to conclude Islamic Terrorism with the Jehadi Terrorists of various categories in Pakistan and even in India because of Calcutta Killings of 1946 which were instigated by none others than Mohd Ali Jinnah President of Muslim League who said that to achieve our aim of getting Pakistan “today we bid goodbye to constitutional methods.” After Calcutta Killings through Muslim League ‘Direct Action’, in August 47, when Jinnah became Governor General of Pakistan he instigated killing of lakhs of Hindus and Sikhs who were rich and dominant in Agriculture industry and business. Thus under Jinnaha’s eyes about 10 lakh Sikhs and Hindus were massacred and more than 1 crore turned out in clothes they were wearing. It can therefore be said that Jinnah and Muslim League in 1946 to end of 1948 were terrorists by any standard. Pakistani Taliban sponsored terrorism continues to this day in Kashmir and many parts of India as is evidenced by 26/11 Bombay blasts and sporadic blasts and riots in many parts of India by Indian Muslim Jehadis with support from Pakistan. Jehadi organizations and Talibans.
USA And War on Terrorism
Since Second World War America has been responsible for the deaths of millions: first by dropping atom bombs on Hiroshima and then unnecessarily on Nagasaki killing thousands of innocent civilians including women and children, then by entering in Chinese Civil War on the side of Chiang Kai Shek to contain communism, the same in Korea and then in Vietnam where 10 million Vietnamese died and also about 1 lakh American Soldier. USA did not stop here continued to arm,finance and support Israel against Palestine and adjoining Arab countries there by making most of Arabs and Muslims all over the world Anti American if not enemies of America.
Then came two attacks in 9/11 in twin towers in New York, and as a reaction attack on Iraq and on Taliban in Afghanistan and even in Pakistan, though Taliban were American creation with a view to free Afghanistan from Soviet supported Communism.
After 9/11 terrorist attack on Twin Towers in New York in which 3000 Americans died. Norman Millar in his book ‘Why are we at War’ is virtually crying for his country, the USA. “What in God’s name was happening? It is one thing to hear a mighty explosion. It is another to recognize some time after the event that one has been deafened by it. The United States was going through an identity crisis. Questions about our nature as a country were being asked that most good American men and women had never posed to themselves before. Questions such as, Why are we so hated? How could anyone resent us that much? We do no evil. We believe in goodness and freedom. Who are we, then?
In fact USA right from the end of World War in 1945, as explained above killed millions of people to contain communism and to prove to the world that USA is the only Super Power, while upto 1939-40 USA believed in isolation under Monroe Doctrine and did not either interfere in the affairs of the rest of world or let rest of world (any country of Europe in particular) to interfere in its affairs.
Hindutva- Its true meaning
The word Hindutva was coined and used first of all by V.D.Savarkar. Hinduism is a religion that all Hindus follow with all the rituals and worshiping all the Hindu gods Lord Rama, Krishna, Hanuman and other regional gods whose statues are all over India and worshiped by devout Hindus. It also means respect and if possible knowledge of Ramayana, Mahabharat, Vedas, Shastra and other many millennium old Hindu or Vedic Literature. Hindutva also means that Indian civilzation embraces all those who live in India, to whatever religion they belong but they have to love Indian Civilization in contrast to Muslim Civilization as propagated in Mecca and Christian Civilization as explained and propagated by Pope of Rome.
RSS Chief K S Sudarshan in 2001 while addressing a large gathering in Hardware said “The time has come when both Muslims and Christians who are living in India should Indianize their religions. They should sever their links with Mecca and Pope and instead become swadeshi.” (The Tribune Chandigarh March 9,2001) An extremist Hindu Brig B N Sharma (Retd) in his book, “A Nation on Fire,” defines Hindutava as: Hindutava is the collective essence of “Hinduism and is the end product of three elements, cultural nationalism, intense patriotism, and a pride in the collective memory of India’s past glory.” But Brig Sharma, as the title of book reveals, is not moderate but fundamentalist. He has ridiculed so called secularists who are more concerned with vote bank than with nation’s interest.
If BJP follows fully and faithfully what K.S Sudarshan says then BJP can never become all embracing Indian Political Party where followers of any religion will be welcome just as Hindus, without any discrimination. It is pertinent to quote Dr Chaudhary as under.
“The seeds of pathological antipathy and diabolical hatred against Muslims and Christians in India sown by Savarkar have now fully fructified, thanks to the constant watering and manuring of seeds at the hands of the Sangh Parivar. It resulted into the shameless act of demolition of Babri Masjid at Ayodhya in 1992 followed by communal holocaust all over the country in which hundreds of innocent citizens lost their lives. Then came the systematic persecution of Christians resulting into the horrendous act of burning alive of an Australian Christian doctor engaged into healing lepers, along with his two adolescent sons in Orissa.”(South Asia Today)
If BJP follows Hindutva in its full form with all the implications, it may attract towards BJP more and more Hindus with the active help of more than a dozen RSS volunteering organizations in virtually all fields like student and teacher organization workers of industrial and academic fields, women and in tribal sphere etc,etc.. But still it will remain only a Hindu Communal organization. To be a Secular All India Party BJP will have to dilute Hindutva and make it appear truly an Indian Civilization and part of all comprehensive Indian Cultural, linguistic, religious and ethnic groups.
It was mainly Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s farsight and determination that transformed BJS Bhartya Jan sangh a Hindu Party like RSS, into BJP an All India National Party like Indian National Congress and captured power in 1998 and ruled the country for full term of 5 years without virtual alliance with any party except Akali Dal; in Punjab. If BJP tries to be a truly secular party lot of uncommitted voters from other religions and regions will support it.
No doubt Muslim terrorist, jehadis of many hues and Taliban by their incursions and killings through suicide bombing like 9/11 in USA and 26/11 in Bombay have encouraged RSS followers, Israelis and some Christian Countries to give befitting reply. But for peace of the world and peace in their own country tact, patience and action are required to as and when necessary.
In November 1989 elections, because of failure of Rajiv Gandhi’s Government in many fields, Congress lost heavily. It could get only 197 seats against 400 in 1984 elections. No political party had absolute majority. There came up a coalition of Janta Dal that had won 142 seats but supported by left and BJP from outside. Thus Rajiv Gandhi lost and was replaced by V.P.Singh an ex congress Minister. With the end of Rajiv Gandhi regime India could not have Prime Minister who could function like Indira and Rajiv Gandhi as dictators. Also fron 1990, era of coalition governments had started with its weakness and failings.
With the decline of Rajiv Gandhi and congress because of economic setback, the Bofor kickback controversy and Vietnam war like disaster of IPKF in Sri Lanka, there was rise of V.P Singh and his newly created Janta Party. Janta Party was formed by V.P.Singh , erstwhile cabinet Minister in Rajiv Gandhi Government, though it won 142 seats but virtually all the other political parties from left and right CPM and BJP supported him from outside as all the opposition parties had suffered and felt humiliated by Rajiv Gandhi ‘s dictatorial rule from 1985 onwards.
Thus unexpectedly little known V.P Singh was sworn in as Prime Minister of India in place of Rajiv Gandhi who had tried his best during the election campaign of 1989 addressing more than 150 meetings all over India from North to South and East to West. BJP which had only two seats in parliament in 1984, won 86 seats in 1989 elections. Similarly left in W. Bengal and kerela consolidated hold and which had been ignored by Rajiv Gandhi and congress for a long, became prominent by supporting V.P Singh government from outside.
BJP took advantage of weak and dependent government of V.P Singh to prepare for rousing the Hindu sentiments against various governments of congress that had appeased the Muslims as Congress treated Muslims as their vote bank. Advani commenced his rath yatra from Somnath temple in Gujarat to disputed Ram Mandir-Babri Masjid in Ayodhya. In U.P. Mulayam Singh Yadav Government arrested thousands of kar-sewaks proceeding to Ayodhya. Similarly, in Bihar Lalu Prasad Yadav not only tried to prevent the yatra of Advani but put Advani under preventive detention. V.P Singh though Prime Minister of India was in a suspense for a long time. If he prevented the Rath Yatra he would loose BJP outside support and his government would fall, if he did nothing to prevent the Rath Yatra reaching Ayodhya. To stop the tide of communal frenzy, in November 1990, V.P Singh resigned. Thus mid-term elections were scheduled to be held in early of 1991. During the election campaign, Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated but the elections went ahead. Because of sympathy for Rajiv Gandhi, the congress gained 240 seats against 140 seats a year and a half back. Thus congress again formed the government at centre, P.V Narsimha Rao erstwhile minister in Rajiv Gandhi’s government was sworn as Prime Minister. Thu ended V.P Singh’s short lived government . Had there been no Rath Yatra by Advani and the turmoil caused by it particularly in UP and Bihar, V.P Singh might have continued as P.M for a year or so more despite his decision to implement controversial Mandal Commission Report.
Just as V.P Singh who never dreamt or deserved to be Prime Minister of a vast multi lingual, multi religious country, so was the P V Narsimaha Rao, who had no voice of his own, could never express his views before the Prime Minister like Rajiv Gandhi, he was the first PM coming from south India, without much following in South India, not to speak of rest of India. Though Narsimaha Rao remained PM belonging to congress Party but his ineffectiveness in dealing with Babri Masjid demolition, he rather watched the demolition on TV and once it was all over, he dismissed Kalyan Singh government of UP and imposed Presidents rule. Had he effectively treated attempt to demolish Babri Masjid for which BJP and RSS had created havoc causing large scale riots in north India and thereafter as in India’s commercial capital Bombay, he should have sent Para Military Forces much before the December when about 1 lakh Kar Sewak’s had gathered. He should have much earlier dismissed Kalyan Singh Government which was BJP government and was giving food and shelter to Kar sewaks’. But Narsimaha Rao did nothing when he was required to do. So, he had to resign after next elections when congress under his Prime Ministership could get only 142 seats in Parliament, perhaps the lowest ever.
Narsimaha Rao was also the first ever Prime Minister of India who openly purchased MP’s like Shibu Soren and Paswan and other by paying them bribe of crores of rupees, so as to remain in power. So both V.P Singh and Narsimaha Rao would go down in history or remembered or referred to be the most ineffective and incompetent Prime Ministers of India who were disgrace to India as well as Indian democracy.
With the death through assasination of Rajiv Gandhi, Congress which had already became weak, lost further in votes and in prestiege because of competent successors on whom it could be said Prime Ministership was thrust. As the congress became weaker, the BJP gathered strength both in votes and status. But unfortunately for India and Indian Politics, communlism flourished because, mainly,of Advani’s Rath Yatra started on 25th Sept 1990 from Somnath Temple in Gujarat to Ayodhya with the declared purpose and plan to demolish Babri Masjid and on its place build Ram Temple. It is well known and historical fact that Mughal conquerer Babar to celebrate his victory and Muslim rule over Hindu ( ‘Kafir’ as Muslims in those days as called Hindus) demolished the Ram temple and on its place built a Masjid which he and the Muslims started calling Babari Masjid.
Advani took up with the mass following of RSS and VHP workers who were known to be fanatics and some as militants and BJP workers, to erase the blemish on the Hindu Dharma by demolishing the so called Babri Masjid and build in its place temple of Lord Ram or Ram Lala as he was called. Thus from the north Indian states particularly, besides Gujarat, UP, Delhi and Bihar, Advani’s Rath yatra encouraged thousands of followers now known as Kar Sewaks . Their member before the yatra reached Ayodhya crossed 1 lakh, many carrying Trishuls and some with bows and arrows . In UP they were housed and fed by BJP Chief Minister Kalyan singh’s government while in Bihar Lalu Yadav detained them. In Delhi there was nominal objection or hurdle as Narsimaha Rao, the new PM had latent interest in allowing the building of Ram temple. So he, despite his predecessor V.P Singh’s resignation on this issue went ahead, despite his Home Ministry suggesting deployment of para military forces to halt the Rath yatra and detain the leaders particularly of RSS who were becoming violent against local police force. As a result on 6th December, the day decided the Babri Masjid was demolished leading to great unrest Muslims coming out burning Hindu shops and houses and in retaliation Hindus doing the same more vigorously. It was only after demolition of Babri Masjid which PM Narsimahar Rao had watched even on T.V. that he dismissed Kalyan Singh’s BJP government and imposed President’s Rule.
Advani had often accused congress of appeasing Muslims as it considered Muslim votes as its previous vote bank in winning elections . Thus he ridiculed congress type secularism.
Aftermath of Babri Masjid demolition was many fold. It led to killing of more than 2000 innocent Indians whether Hindus or Muslims, of which more than 60% casualties were of Muslims though they constituted less than 15% of Indians population. Secondly it weakened Indians faith in equality of all citizen without discrimination on the basis of religion or faith. Thirdly, as the Rath yatra passed through north Indian states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, UP, Delhi and Bihar, the death toll because of riots was maximum in these states, particularly in UP and Maharashtra’s capital Bombay.
Riots were spontaneous in UP particularly near and around the city of Ayodhya, Kar sewaks celebrating the demolition of Babri Masjid by setting on fire Muslim Houses and shops and killing Muslims. In other places of UP it was left to Muslims to take revenge and set on fire Hindu houses and shops, killing of Hindus and here and there killing priests of temples and destroying the temples.
On December 7, a day after the demolition of Babri Masjid, riots broke out in Bombay which has been one of the most peaceful cities of India, being commercial capital India. Riots were started by Muslims, in Muslim dominated area of Mohammed Ali Road, burning Hindu houses and shops and in addition effigies of Hindu leaders were publicly set to flames. A temple in this Muslim dominated area was also burnt down. This infuriated Hindus, particularly of Shiv Sena and BJP, whose followers took out a procession in Dharavi area of north Bombay, attacking Muslim homes and shops. Muslims too went and killed a priest and destroyed another temple. Next day Shiv Sena declared Bombay band. For whole day riots by Shiv Sena continued despite police presence. Out of about 1000 people who died in Bombay riots, about 800 were Muslims. Three months after the demolition of Babri Masjid, Muslims of Bombay asserted by Dubai based mafia who supplied RDX explosives, initiated scenes of bomb blasts in Bombay stock exchange and other places like luxury hotels etc to inflict maximum casualties as well to get lime light. The Babri Masjid demolition and its aftermath leading to killing of more than 2000. Mostly innocent citizens of India had to wave of sadness in all the citizens of India. I also wrote a poem in those days which is reproduced below:
Demolition of Babri Masjid
Since Times Immemorial in Ayudhya there was
A sacred Ram Temple
Worshiped by Hindus as most sacred temple
Babar the invader destroyed this God’s temple
Virtually no temple of Hindus, Buddists or
Jains was left standing
All the worshipers were left wailing
From Turkey to Afghanistan
And what is now Pakistan
Terrorist Babar Killed, Tortured and imprisoned Lakhs
He imprisoned Guru Nanak and other saints
Guru Nanak even complained to God
As to why the Almighty allowed Babar to invade
Our peaceful land.
But as Babar had destroyed
Temple after Temple
To commemorate his conquest he built
On the sacred ruins of Ayudhya temple Masjid
And called it Babri Masjid.
With the end of Moughal rule
Came the British rule
Hindu devotees claimed Babri Masjid was
Infact their ancient and sacred temple
British withheld the dispute between
Masjid and Temple
But Muslims were not allowed to offer Namaz
So on doors of Masjid – Temple they put lock
Congress Governments to win Hindu votes
Under Rajiv Gandhi in 1986 removed the lock
Allowed Hindus in part of Masjid to install their lord
With BJP Government in Uttar Pradesh
Plan was hatched to destroy Babri Masjid
Congress Government of Narashimarao approved tacitly.
As no steps were taken to forestall or
Halt this unlawful activity
No troops were sent to prevent demolition
Thus BJP and Shiv Sena completed their mission
Without bothering about Muslim reaction
Sooner or Later that was certain
In Bombay there was Eruption and Explosions
Killing hundreds of Indian citizen mostly Hindus
Injuring thousands of other primarily Hindus
Destroying vast National property
Jeopardising National unity.
I could not shut my eyes
I could not plug my ears
I share with you, my countrymen
Of all faiths and religions
What I saw heard and felt
I could have been killed during partition riots
Or during 1984 Anti Sikh riots
But I am alive my countrymen to tell you all.
Rajiv Gandhi was in Calcutta on 31st Oct when Indira Gandhi was assassinated in the early morning by her Sikh body guards. He rushed to Delhi soon after his arrival in Delhi at 6 PM, the announcement of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s death was broadcast on AIR though she had died after being shot point blank and was brought dead to AIIMS Hospital. Immediately on his arrival Rajiv Gandhi was sworn in as PM at 6-15 PM. The mobs were already killing Sikhs as the news of Indira Gandhi’s death had already been announced by foreign radio channels.
No doubt, and it is natural, that Rajiv Gandhi was shocked and pained to see the dead body of his mother. But as the riots had already started in Delhi, particularly in settlement colonies of Sikhs and elsewhere. Instead of condemning or remaining silent about riots to mourn the untimely and violent death of his mother, on hearing about violence against Sikhs in the capital he issued a statement ‘When a big Tree falls the earth shakes’ .
This statement by Rajiv Gandhi, newly appointed PM not only condoned the killing of Sikhs by hooligans led by congress leaders and workers but encouraged them to go ahead and do as much killing of Sikhs (in revenge of his mother’s death) as possible.
The inhuman atrocities against thousands of Sikhs continued for four days and nights. Their houses and shops were looted and burnt. Neither Prime Minister nor Home Minister. Narsimaharao called even one day after riots, the Army from Delhi Cantonment to control the mobs and curb violence. This was a blemish on otherwise clean image of Rajiv Gandhi’s who had become PM as well as on Home Minister Narsimaha rao and President Zail Singh.
The Police indifference (towards anti Sikh rioters and hooligans) was shocking, the role played by Congress politicians positively immoral. But the lapse that signaled more than all others was the unwillingness (of the government) to call in the army.
This clearly shows that the Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, in particular, and Home Minister who was just a stooge of PM, wanted and condoned the anti- Sikh riots to continue till the Congress politicians who led the riots are exhausted and till the devastation (by Fall of a Big Tree as said by Rajiv Gandhi) was complete to his and Congress hooligans satisfaction. Govt of India was fully responsible because even the police in the Capital was not only ineffective but in many cases active instigator of anti-Sikh riots.
Already details about atrocities on Sikhs, as commented by eminent writers, lawyers and journalists have been given in the aftermath of assassination of Indira Gandhi which are more authentic then these by a writer or journalists who may be prejudiced against Sikhs and Akali’s or against Congress and Rajiv Gandhi.
Now it is important to examine the reign of Rajiv Gandhi as PM ie what he did, what he undid, what he achieved and what he failed to achieve. Also which of his acts were praiseworthy and which condemnable.
After sweeping the elections of 1984, by punishing the entire Sikh Community for the unfortunate act of two Sikh body guards in assassinating P.M. Indira Gandhi who had got the Indian Army to attack Golden Temple, the holiest of Sikh shrines. Rajiv Gandhi thought of acting as a Prime Minister of India to impress and win the people of whole of India including the Sikhs who had been wronged. His first important act was to sign an accord with a Sikh saint Langowal, even agreeing to transfer Chandigarh to Punjab within a specific period. Akali’s in particular and Sikhs in general considered it an eyewash as Langowal was not an important leader nor he had gone to jail during emergency nor protested against Killing in cold blood of tens of thousands of Sikh under Indira Gandhi’s regime as well as Rajiv Gandhi’s Prime Ministership. Instead Langowal started touring Punjab and speaking in Gurdwaras and public meetings to support his accord with Rajiv Gandhi. But within a month of the accord while addressing a congregation at Sangrur he was shot dead on 20th August 1985 by two Sikhs for betraying the cause of Sikhs, Sikh religion. Akali Dal, however, went ahead with assembly elections in September and won a thumping majority against the Congress in Punjab for the first time. As the Akali’s became the rulers of Punjab, they quietly started working as a ruling party without any hostility towards Hindus of Punjab or Central Government.
Inspite of Langowal’s assassination by resentful Sikhs, Rajiv Gandhi’s went ahead with another agreement to reconcile with the turbulent, All Assam Students Union. Both parties agreed to date of infiltration to the effect that those who had come to Assam after 1st January 1966 but before 25 March 1971 would be allowed to stay but without right to vote. Those who infiltrated after 1971 would be identified and deported. To pacify the Assamese, Presidents rule was evoked and way paved for fresh elections. Here, too, when election results of December 1985 election were announced the Assam Gana Prashid (AGP) won overwhelming majority trouncing the Congress. The prominent Congress lost Republic of India won, same slogan and same expression about loss to Congress as in Punjab- losing two state governments in short spun of six months.
Here one must give credit to Rajiv Gandhi for signing one accord after another. After another six months, in June 1986, a peace agreement was signed with Mizo militants who agreed to lay down arms, in response to Rajiv governments agreement to grant complete amnesty to these rebels and in addition grant of full statehood to Mizos as they had been demanding and fighting for during last decade or more. Thus Laldenga took over as Chief Minister replacing the Congress C.M. Thus though Rajiv Gandhi got acclaim for accord, Congress lost another state.
Another test of Rajiv Gandhi’s determination and popularity came in Shah Bano case. Here Rajiv Gandhi succunbed to political pressure and relented despite Supreme Court Verdict that Shah Bano’s ex husband MA Khan should pay maintenance allowance to his divorced wife Shah Bano, Rs 179-20 P per month as recommended by High Court. Supreme Court even suggested common Civil Code so that Muslims became part of the Indian mainstream without distinction. But Muslim clerics Mullahas and other Religions Chiefs objected to Supreme Courts general remarks about common Civil Code for all including Muslims. The religious leaders who had enjoyed extra ordinary powers and jurisdiction over Muslims could not bear the limitation of their rights to decide the fate of Muslims as if they were the courts. So there was agitation by Muslims led by clerics and Muslims.
After a couple of months a Muslim MP G.M. Banatwala moved a resolution in the Parliament seeking exemption of Muslims from the purview of Muslims from section 125 of the constitution which provided that if there was conflict between Civil Code and Muslim personal law, section 125 will override. The move of Banatwala was opposed in Parliament by another Muslim, Arif Mohammed Khan who was progressive and was Minister of State Home Affairs, quoting Moulana Azad, renowned nationalist Muslim , associate of Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Nehru. The Muslim clergy compelled Shah Bano to affix thumb impression on a statement prepared by orthodox clergy on Nov 15 that she was opposed to the Supreme Court verdict and would follow Muslim personal law. As congress due to S.C. Verdict on Shah Bano case and Congress Minister’s support last many by elections in Muslim majority constituencies, so Rajiv Gandhi and his government scubmbed to the pressure and allowed Muslim Women’s bill in Parliament which was against the verdict of Supreme court Judgment. As a consequence, Arif Mohd Khan a minister who had supported S.C. Judgment in Parliament despite Muslim Clergy’s annoyance, resigned saying in an interview that ‘Indian Muslim Women will be the only women to be denied maintenance anywhere in the world’.
As Congress had 400 MP’s in Parliament, it was the golden opportunity for making Common Civil Code applicable to Muslim women particularly clause about maintenance to divorced women, particularly when a Muslim Minister was supporting S.C. Verdict. But Rajiv Gandhi lacked courage and consistency so he bowed before Muslim Clergy pressure and retracted because of political repercussions.
The failures of Rajiv Gandhi and his government had commenced with Shah Bano case. Now he wanted to try to please Hindus so that congress does not lose Hindu Vote. Thus for Rajiv Gandhi ‘Vote Bank Politics’ which was side-lined for a few years, got priority over political justice, consistency and impartiality. In February 86 , after 8 months of Shah Bano fiasco, District judge of Faizabad (under which Ayodhya falls) passed orders on a petetion by VISHWA Hindu Pareshad (VHP) to allow worship by Hindus at a place in so called Babri Masjid where Hindu diety Ram was born, ordered the opening of locks to permit worship by Hindus. “The order was widely believed to have been directed from Delhi, from the Prime Minister’s office, no less”.
In conclusion Shah Bano Case revived Muslim militancy and fundamentalism and likewise opening of locks of Babri Masjid part for Worship of Ram idol by Hindus led to revival of Hindu militancy. It was unfortunate that Rajiv Gandhi did not or could not think of consequences of allowing genocide of Sikhs for four days and nights in November 84 and then in the Shah Bano case scumbing to Muslim pressure and going against the judgment of Supreme Court and finally allowing the opening of locks of part of Babri Masjid- All the three decisions or indecisions were for ensuring votes for Congress and/ or to avoid loss of votes.
On economic front Rajiv Gandhi had first shown boldness then softness. Pandit Nehru’s policy of socialist pattern of society and nationalization of industries had resulted into License Raj or ‘Inspector Raj’ which led to large scale corruption though Inspectors of various departments like Income Tax, Industries, Rationing and even Police. To mitigate the evil of licensing and ‘Inspector Raj’ certain industries like machine tools textiles and computers were exempted from licenses. Besides there was reduction in the rate of corporate taxes and even personal income taxes which resulted in increase in production as well as trade. In Feb 85, Rajiv Gandhi himself said that Indian economy was ‘caught in a vicious circle of creating more and more controls. Controls really lead to all the corruption, all the delays and that is what we want to cut out’.
Decontrol of certain manufacturing industries led to phenomenal increase in production and sale. For instance, in 1984-85 the Sale of Scooters and Motorcycles increased by 25 percent while that of cars by 52 percent. Also more shopping centers and restaurants were visible in every town particularly in Delhi and Bombay. Market Capitalization grew remarkably well, from “Rs 68 billion in 1980 to Rs 550 billion in 1989. Almost all companies grew, some fast, some very fast. Most remarkable growth was of Reliance Industries. Its growth was unprecedented not only in India but throughout the world. In 1980’s Reliance Industry (founded by Dhirubhai Ambani, an ordinary Petrol Pump attendant in Aden a decade or so back), grew at the rate of 6% per annum, its sales at more than 30% per year and its profit at almost 50%. No doubt Reliance Industries unprecedented growth, besides Ambani’s innovations and determination was also due to his skillful relations with political party in power as well as the concerned bureaucrats, just as other large business houses like that of Birla, Dalmia and Tata in particular had right from the beginning.
Despite unprecedented Industrial growth as outlined above, though middle class and upper class Indian benefited a lot, the 40% or so people below poverty line continued to starve and suffer. Many starvation deaths were reported from Orissa’s tribal area and in many other states, poor continued to suffer from malnutrition. Failure of monsoon affected not less than 20 crore people , their cattle starved and died, their land was scattered with car-cases of cattle everywhere visible in their fields and farms and even in adjoining jungles, which, too, had gone dry because of no rain during the season.
As the Rajiv Government ha d become weak and progressively ineffective, the commendable agreements initiated by Rajiv in 1985-86 came down crumbling. The Punjab accord with Longowal having failed as Akali’s considered Longowal a traitor of Sikhs and Rajiv Gandhi did not implement the time-bound transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab. In addition further atrocities were committed on Sikhs to flush out terrorists particularly in Villages, by the Punjab Police under KPS Gill the new DG appointed in 1986 by Central Government. In 1988, a group of militants, demanding Khalistan, were holed up in proper Golden Temple (Sanctum Sanatorium), were not fired at but were arrested after two days of Police encirclement, without a fight from either side unlike the operation Blue Star of June 1984.
In July 1987, Sri Lanka’s then President Jayawardhane persuaded PM Rajiv Ghandhi to sign an agreement for sending Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) to fight to disarm or eliminate LTTE for the sake of Sir Lanka’s unity and also Sir Lanka’s Friendship with “big brother” India. India’s PM Rajiv Gandhi, who had been a pilot all these years with no liking or experience in politics could not understand the intricacies of such an agreement which was meant to fight against Tamils of Sri Lanka who have been fighting with Sri Lankan Army and government since independence of Sri Lanka, for seperation or full autonomy for areas occupied and administered by Sri Lanka Tamils. So India’s young, PM Rajiv Gandhi was trapped into signing an anti-Tamil agreement.
It is well known that India lost many soldiers in this uncalled for attack on LTTE i.e Sri Lankan Tamils. Now the figures of dead and wounded IPKF soldiers in hostile terrain of Sri Lanka speak more vehemently. IPKF lost more than 1500 soldiers and more than 2000 were wounded most of them maimed forever though it is not clear or said whether any soldier of Sri Lankan Army was killed or wounded during July 1987 to the time of withdrawal or return to India of the lost Indian soldier in January 1990. It is well known that IPKF expedition commenced without any preparation or knowledge about the exact LTTE occupied area. Thus in July 1987 the air dropping of a unit (of Sikh Regiment from Poona) and dropping one by one in the hostile area. As a result all the soldiers were shot and killed in the air by LTTE insurgents without touching the LTTE occupied territory. This was most inauspicious and unfortunate beginning of this uncalled for operation. Only one soldier named Gora Singh who was wounded but alive and had seen all the soldiers of his own regiment. LTTE celebrated this victory as they had not only killed the brave Indian soldiers but had seized all their arms.
Another unfortunate happening is that while the IPKF was fighting LTTE the Sri Lankan President Jayawardhane who had signed agreement with Indian PM Rajiv Gandhi had lost and new President Ranasingle Premadas, in June 89 demanded the IPKF’s withdrawal.
Worst of all when IPKF did not withdraw immediately “he provided arms and ammunition to LTTE to take the IPKF. What a betrayal and what a shame”. Before the IPKF withdrew it was accused of killing large number of LTTE as well as civilians, mainly Tamils in the war that earned the IPKF the derisive name- “Innocent People Killing Force”.
Sending of IPKF to fight LTTE Tamils of Indian origin cost India the life of its Prime Minister; who was assasinated in 1991 while campaigning for mid-term elections, by the suicide bomb she was carrying at the instance of LTTE and Prabhakran who had not forgotten or forgiven Rajiv Gandhi for sending Indian Army to fight against LTTE Tamils.
There were serious charges that Rajiv Gandhi and his government were involved in commission of more than Rs 60 lakh in the purchase of BOFOR guns. This news was broadcast by Swedish radio in April 1987. The opposition has since been charging the government with corruption on this account with a view to defame the Congress and its government. Opposition demanded the names of the persons/ officials who received the kick-backs but government kept silence, which Press and opposition highlighted that middlemen were somehow linked with Prime Minister and Italian Quotrochi.
Even Rajiv Gandhi’s visit to China in early 89 being India’s first PM to visit Beijing in more than 30 years was considered unfortunate as he had ceded ground on Tibet in exchange, China promised not to assist insurgents in India’s North East. Further in march of the same year Rajiv Gandhi reversed the financial and industrial policy he outlined on his beaming PM. Increase in taxes on consumer products that were durable and surcharge on hotel booking. During Rajiv Gandhi’s regime external debt had increased abnormally to 70 billion of which 30% India owed to private creditors. Foreign Exchange resources were left for only one two weeks. As the press was vociferous about BOFOR kick bocks, a bill to curb the freedom of press was introduced with a provision to send editors and publishers to jail on criminal charges if they persisted on unsubstantiated imputations.
Thus Rajiv Gandhi’s regime started with the genocide of thousands of Sikhs for four days and nights and it is unfortunate that his congress regime ended with his assassination by LTTE agents sent by Prabhakaran because Rajiv Gandhi had sent IPKF to help Sri Lankan Government in eliminating Sri Lanka Tamils fighting against Sri Lankan Army. As a result several thousand LTTE militants and civilian Tamils lost their lives. Still it is with heavy heart that entire India felt the cruel and untimely assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in prime of his youth.
Genocide of Sikhs was allowed after Indira’s murder
When thousands of Sikhs were tortured to death
Atrocities on Sikhs went on for years
But not a single criminal was punished
Though commission after commission investigated
Yet time has come to forgive and forget
As valiant Sikhs do forgive and forget
By recalling: the suffering and torture of Guru Arjun
Remember how Guru Teg Bahadur was martyred
On order of Aurangzeb
How cruelly two young sons of Guru Gobind Singh
Were bricked alive
Yet valiant Sikhs have to forget
Attack on Golden Temple and genocide of Sikhs
Just as they have forgotten
Partition riots of 1947
In 47 lakhs of Sikhs perished
In 84 tens of thousand perished
But tragedy is that in 47 Sikhs were victims
Of British conspiracy instigating Muslims
But in 84 they were killed
By their own army in their own land
Oh God you are considered omnipotent
But where were you, oh omnipotent!
When sons were beaten to death before their mothers
When young girl were molested before the brother & father
When before sisters their brothers were struck with iron rods
And fell unconscious
When newly wed wives’ husbands were dragged
And burning tires put in their necks
When before innocent children their were parents done to death
When mothers were wailing for their dead children
When fathers who were old and infirm could not get up & run
To save their children from certain death
Oh God! Where were you?
When in your world, in your Delhi thousand of
Innocent were being massacred
And the murderers were dancing and drinking.
It appears you are non-existent
Oh God! If you are really here, appear
If you are not deaf listen,
If you are not blind see and cry.
But oh God! You did nothing
Neither you punished the criminals
Nor you helped in ending the crime wave
That continued for four days
Some criminals were punished by the sufferers
But this revenge caused more suffering
More and more innocents were killed
Either by terrorists or by Police
This tragedy went on for years
Till time healed same wounds
Oh people! Awake
There is no God in heaven
If at all he is there, he is not omnipotent
You have to guard yourself
You are to help the victims yourself.
Some trains were leaving Delhi
But unlike in normal days no train crossed border of Delhi
And no train from outside, reached Delhi
Every train was held up somewhere near Delhi border
Sikh passengers were being dragged out by lumpins
Who removed their turbans
Those who resisted received blows of iron rods
Their hands feet were tied with their turbans
Or their turbans twisted into ropes
One end tied around their necks
And the other end was pulled by ruffians
Some passenger locked themselves in toilets
Saved their lives to tell others the fate their brother met
A few saved themselves by getting under the seat
So that they could save themselves by holding their breath
There were soldiers going on leave after defending
Or returning from home leave to defend our borders
They too, met the same fate
Inspite of their uniforms and protests
There were some rich Sikhs
Who were looted and done to death
For goondas and their leaders all they wanted were Sikhs.
They forgot that they were Guru Teg Bahadurs Sikhs
Who had laid down his life for Hindu faith and Hindustan
Ultimately when a few trains arrived at Delhi Railway Station
There were only dead or wounded Sikhs
The relatives who came to receive them
Cried and some fainted at the railway station
Yet some decent men of all faiths offered
Them first aid, water and food
Arranged to send them to their homes.
To remain in power,
You quarreled with supreme power
You ordered attack on Golden Temple
The Indian army attacked with rockets and tanks
Besides destroying Akal Takhat
And damaging darbar sahib
Your army defiled nectar filled tank.
You were Prime Minister of whole of India
You were guardian of all religions and culture of India.
How could you forget that?
How could You be forgiven for that cruel act?
Attack on Golden Temple
Shocked all, particularly Sikhs all over world
It was like an attack-had Saudi Arabian army.
Attacked holy Muslim shrine of Mecca
Or if Italian troops had been ordered
By Italian government to destroy Church of Rome
Or some Indian Prime Minister had ordered
Attack on Kashi or holy Mathura temple
Failed to realize the gravity
Of your selfish act of attack on Golden Temple
Thousands of Sikhs including women and children
Were killed or wounded.
As the day of attack was martyrdom day Guru Arjun
And Sikhs had come for a holy dip in holy tank
It is said and unfortunate that you were killed
By Sikhs in revenge
Just as they had killed Dyer the British General
Who had ordered attack in Jallianwala Bagh
Earlier Aurangzeb had ordered killing of Guru Teg Bahadur
And Sikhs destroyed the Mughal rule
By taking up arms against Mughal rule
As Guru Gobind Singh’s Khalsa,
Under Ranjit Singh’s army of Khlasa
Had you served India honestly
Subdued your hunger for power
And not ordered attack on Golden Temple
You would have lived long and for ever
After attack on Golden Temple and demolition of Akal Takhat by Indian Army authorized by Indira Gandhi, it is said that Prime Minister was warned by intelligence agencies that there could be attempt on her life. She was even advised to do away with Sikh members of her personal body guards. But she rejected the suggestion saying that ‘aren’t we secular’ ( The Times). She did not, realize the gravity of attack on Golden Temple on Sikhs, or not forgetting that British General Dyer who had ordered indiscriminate firing in Jallianwale Bagh in April 1919 killing more than 400 peaceful Punjabi’s was shot dead in London by Udham Singh, a Sikh who waited for years. Thus Indira Gandhi who had masterminded the attacks on Golden Temple or even Gian Zail Singh who was President but could not do anything to prevent the attack, by resigning or even threatening to resign, were likely to be targets.
On 31st October 1984, Indira Gandhi was shot at point blank and killed by her two Sikh body guards, Beant Singh and Satwant Singh early in the morning while walking from her residence to her adjoining office. Both Beant Singh and Satwant Singh had gone to Punjab to meet their families. It seems that they were shocked to hear and see the impact of operation Blue Star on not only those who had lost their Kith and Kin in Golden Temple on Guru Arjan’s martyrdom day but even ordinary Sikhs who must have wept while telling the atrocities and death of hundreds of innocent old Sikh peasants, women and children, besides thousands of men. Indiscriminate violence against sikhs began on the 31st October night, after Rajiv Gandhi had been sworn in as P.M after 6 pm. Till then Indira Gandhi’s death had not been announced on AIR though she had died on the spot and had been brought dead to the AIIMS hospital.
Assassination of Indira Gandhi or some VIP like Zail Singh or other was feared as Operation Blue Star was an attack on Golden Temple, on the Sikh religion and sikh honour. More than 10,000 Sikh had been butchered indiscriminately including old men, women and children by a cleverly manipulated crisis by Indira Gandhi to humiliate the Sikhs with a view to pose in the next election as a Durga—goddess of Hindus, because Indira Gandhi had lost hope of winning South and East India.
Some reaction even, violent reaction to be PM’s assassination was feared. But it could not, by any stretch of imagination, be thought that Congress, second line of leadership will lead the gangs, organize arson, loot and murder of Sikh’s simultaneously in many towns, Railway trains and buses Killing of Sikhs continued for 4 days with active participation of local police force.
We were eye witness to these traumatic happenings when Gurdwara just across our house was being gharoaed stoned and burnt and Holy Granth thrown and burnt. The details of these 1947-partition, like riots in the Capital can be best seen in Indian Express of Nov 1 to Nov 20. From the rough estimates it is gathered that more than 10,000 Sikhs perished in this “Nadirshahi” of Congress in certain cases there were 3 to 4 windows in one family done.
The Sikhs outside Punjab were hostages at the mercy of the hoodlums who could be organized, financed and instigated to commit unprintable crimes against Sikh men, women and children whether they happened to be poor workers in jhugis and settlement colonies or rich business men in posh colonies, middle class workers traveling to and from office or sikh army officers going to duty. Even clean shaven sikh truck drivers who are just sikhs by birth, neither extremists nor religious , all who were unfortunate on the days when hell itself was let loose, were mercilessly beaten and burnt alive.
In this genocide of Sikhs more than 25,000 sikhs were Killed—burnt alive by pouring kerosene on their heads in the presence of their wives, children, sisters and mothers. Some were burnt by putting burning tyres in their necks, some were killed with steel rods supplied by hooligans and Congress workers, some were dragged out of their houses, there hands tied with one end of there turbans and with the other end of turban tied on their necks, they were dragged and killed.
Sikh’s women were molested and raped in the presence of their husbands, sons and young daughters and old mothers. Such inhuman torture and killing of Sikhs went on for 4 days while police was just on lookers. Even policemen did not come forward to save the life or honour of such women victims.
It was not only Delhi, though Delhi was the worst sight of slaughter of Sikhs but in cities like Kanpur where 500 sikhs perished in the same way and dozen of other towns, in trains and buses. This was something like partition riots of 1947. In 1947 when trains full of dead bodies of Sikhs and Hindus reached Punjab, when about a million of Sikhs and Hindus were butchered, Sikhs retaliated by killing Muslims in Punjab and sending their dead bodies to Pakistan. This retaliation helped to end massacre of Sikhs and Hindus in Pakistan. But in Delhi in 1984 where Sikhs were hardly 5 percent and it was their own country, could not and did not retaliate. They only suffered silently for 4-5 days, and wept for days, months and years, but no justice was done. Not a single criminal was found guilty and sentenced to death or imprisonment. Khushwant Singh, eminent journalist and writer in his book My Bleeding Punjab writers:
“ At break of dawn of 1st November, the anti Sikh pogrom got going in right earnets. Truckloads of hoodlums armed with steel rods, jerry cans full of Kerosene oil and petrol went round the city setting fire to gurdwaras. One adjacent to my apartment was raided by a gang which threw out the carpets, the canopy along with the holy book, the Granth, in the courtyard and made a bonfire of them. They roughed up the 65 year old priest. The gang departed taking the Gurdwara money box amid shouts of “Indira Gandhi Zindabad”.
“ In the heart of New Delhi’s main shopping center, Connaught Circus, Sikh owned furnitures shops were set ablaze while crowds cheered and police looked on. There were no signs of grief over the death of Prime Minister but plenty of envy, hate and malicious pleasure at seeing Sikhs who had done better than they being cut to size”.
Khushwant Singh adds about his own grief panic and reaction:
“ I awaited my turn. I felt like a partridge in a partridge shoot waiting to be flushed out of cover and shot on the wing. For the first time I realized what jews must have felt like in Nazi Germany…. Get out of your place was the repetitive advice (to Khushwant Singh by his well wishers). But go where and how? They were killing Sikhs in trains, buses, taxis, scooters. The killings assumed the proportion of genocide of Sikh’s community.
I had half an hour to pack up. I wrenched off the nameplate from my door. What could I take with me from my home where I had lived ever since I had been driven out of Pakistan. They could have the bloody lot ( all my belongings ). Thirty seven years ago I left the same kind of stuff to Pakistan, now I would leave to Hindustan”.
“Romesh Thapar bundled us into the Car of a diplomat. We found sanctuary in the home of Rolf and Jeanne Gauffin of the Swedish Embassy. In my own homeland I had become a refugee, deprived of my birth right to mourn the assassination of my Prime Minister. Instead I mourned the deaths of thousands of men who were killed for no other reason than that they happened to belong to the same community as the Prime Minister assassins.” (My Bleeding Punjab).
Retired Supreme Court Justice V.M.Tarkunde, concluded in his report ‘ the carnage (of Sikhs) was orchestrated by Congress’. “ According to it plans for their massacre (of Sikhs) were nurtured by party leaders on the night of 31st October…Kerosene was collected, killers were gathered from both inside and outside the localities, Jhuggis (huts) and houses of Sikhs identified”.
The “SUNDAY” a widely circulated weekly from Calcutta, described Rajiv Gandhi’s silence on the subject as “ the first black mark he has got on his otherwise clean image”.
“Police instead of curbing violence by taking action against the killers of Sikhs in 1984 massacre of Sikhs in Delhi. The role of Delhi Police in preventing any viable Sikh defence is well testified. In a number of cases, Police personnel confiscated licensed fire arms from Sikh’s and shot at the defenders if they resisted”. (Religion Violence and Political Mobilisation).
Following quotations are from book by Manoj Mitra and H.S. Phoolka:
‘When a Tree Shook Delhi’.
It must be said that Mr Phoolka is a very eminent lawyer who has been fighting right from the beginning for justice for victims of 1984 Genocide of Sikhs.
Annexures from book when a Tree Shook Delhi by Mr Mitra and Sardar H.S. Phoolka. Again, “It would be startling to note that General Arora hero of 1971 war against Pakistan and who received surrender from Pakistan’s General Niazi who had agreed to hand area 90,000 Pakistani soldiers to Indian Army as Prisoners of War, had to be escorted and took shelter in the house Shri I.K. Gujral.”
‘Zail’s car stoned, panic in Delhi’ was a headline in The Telegraph, which said: ‘ The President’s motorcade, as it proceeded towards AIIMS from the airport, was heavily brickbatted. Three cars in the motorcade were damaged, though the President, who was in his bulletproof car, was unaffected.’
In his affidavit before the Justice Ranganath Misra Commission, the first judicial inquiry ordered in 1985, Jagjit Singh gave an eyewitness account of the second attack on President Zail Singh. “ All the stone pelting, he said, was done by a small group which raised slogans such as ‘Giani Murdabad’ (Down with Zail Singh), ‘Sardar gaddar hai’ (Sikhs are traitors) and ‘Khoon ka badla khhon’ (Avenge murder with murder).”
As hundreds of affidavits were filed during and after1984 anti-Sikh riots and placed before the justice Ranga Nath Mishra Commission Jain-Aggarwal Committee was set up by Government to examine all these affidavits. After fully examining these affidavits , Jain-Aggarwal Committee submitted its report to the Lt Governor of Delhi, as required on 6th August 1993.The report highlighted the “colossal indifference towards the loss of human life and property of the Sikhs.” The committee also stated that the police, in many cases either did not register FIRs or deliberately misregistered them and subsequently “sabotaged” the investigation so that the cases could not stand up in court as many did.
It is noteworthy that the Jain-Aggarwal committee in view of its findings “recommended severe punishment for 298 dishonest police officers, the registration of 333 fresh cases and reinvestigation of 129 other cases to undo the misdeeds of earlier investigations. The committee also indicted many local congress functionaries who later on went on to become M P’s and Ministers for instigating and leading the rioters. No wonder no action has been taken against officials like the Police Commissioner S.C.Tondon who was rewarded by crucial appointment after retirement” ( Pioneer dt 19-08-93).
Had the guilty police officers and congress leaders and personnel listed by Jain-Aggarwal committee been punished, there would not have been demolition of Babri Masjid and consequent riots in many states particularly UP and Maharashtra, Bombay in particular casting thousands of lives, disturbing peace and harmony, now, between Hindus and Muslims.
It is regrettable and painful for all Sikhs all over the world and also thousands of non Sikhs and non Punjabis all over India that not a single Culprit and Criminal out of hundreds of politicians, policemen and paid ruffians has been convicted and punished even after 25 years when more than 10,000 Sikhs were massacred in the genocide of Sikhs in 1984. It is slur on our politicians and on our democracy.
Excerpts of testimonies before the Misra and Nanavati Commissions:
Writer Patwant Singh before the Nanavati Commission ….
“That Air Chief Marshall Arjan Singh (Retd), Lt. Gen. Jagjit Singh Aurora (Retd.), Brig. Sukhjit Singh (Retd.), S. Gurbachan Singh and I called on the President of India in the morning of 1 November 1984. We spent one hour with the President and told him that numerous Sikhs were being killed all over the capital, emphatically spelling out for him the violence overtaking the Sikhs throughout the city. We made clear that he as the President was morally and constitutionally bound to put an end to it. He replied, ‘I do not have powers to intervene.”
Former Law Minister Shanti Bhushan before the Nanavati Commission….
“ That we visited Shakarpur, Pandav Nagar, and several east Delhi’s colonies, and rescued many trapped Sikh families, and took them to the nearest Gurdwara….We also saw many dead bodies of Sikhs who had been killed, and some bodies were still burning.”
Former Finance Minister Madhu Dandavate before the Misra Commission
“When the train reached Tughlakabad Station (on the suburbs of Delhi) on 2 November morning, a large number of persons carrying iron rods, axes, crow bars, etc. entered our train. They declared that no Sikh would be allowed to leave the train alive. At that time, I found that some Sikhs in the adjoining compartments were pulled down by those outsiders carrying weapons. I found two Sikhs killed and thrown on the platform, and then their dead bodies were set on fire on the platform. The police standing on the platform made no efforts to prevent either the killing or burning of the Sikhs.”
In october 84 I had gone on leave to my home in Delhi and was witness to destroying the Gurudwara opposite our house in Janak Puri B-1 Block and burning of Holy Guru Granth Sahib and throwing our in Nallah other copies of Holy Granth Sahib. Even my house was locked and glass panes of drawing room broken. Luckily my tenant in first floor was an Air force officer Squadron Leader. He came down immediately and faced the mob, saying this is my house and thus our family and our house was saved. It was a miracle. For three days and nights we did not move out. Then and there I decided that I shall not go back to Lucknow to join duty in the institute. So I applied for voluntary retirement and remained on leave for 3 months till Feb 28 when I went to handover charge and say goodbye to Director and the Institute.
Before concluding the chapter on assassination of Indira Gandhi and its aftermath. I would like to reproduce my four poems which I wrote in those days and were first published in my Punjabi book ‘Payyar Te Rossa’ and afterwards I translated these poems and included in my book ‘ Pluralist Politics and Poems of Revance Love and Sorrow’.
It is apt and befitting to explain in brief the importance and sanctity of Golden Temple. Foundation of Golden Temple was laid by a Muslim Saint, Mian Mir under aegis of Guru Ram Das, so that as preached by Guru Nanak Dev, it is one and the same God to whom Muslims call Allah and Hindus call Ram and that all humanity is one and as elucidated in Guru Granth Sahib, Holy Book of Sikhs called perennial Guru after Guru Gobind Singh—AVVAL ALLAHA NOOR UPAYA, KUDRAT KE SABH BANDE EK NOOR SE SABH JAG UPJYA KON BHALE KON MANDE.
During British rule Golden Temple remained assigned to hereditary Mahants. It suited the British rulers so that they could keep watch over the Sikh Gurudwaras and indirectly on Sikhs, so that they do not unite against them and create problems as they valued the support of Sikhs, particularly the Sikh Soldiers who constituted during and upto first World War about 50% of Indian Army and were instrumental in Allied victory in Europe against German Army. It will be noteworthy that on India Gate hundreds of names of Sikh soldiers are inscribed who died fighting in 1st World War, it was a British tribute to valiant Sikh soldiers.
It was only in 1925 that the Sikhs rose to demand the handing over of Gurudwaras like Golden Temple and NanKana Sahib (Birth place of Guru Nanak Dev ji). After prolonged agitation which was absolutely non-violent and in which more than one hundred Sikhs laid down their lives (SHAHID’s) the British relented and accepted the demand of Shromani Gurudwara Porbandhak Committee (the apex body of Sikh’s and handed over the management of all Gurudwaras including Golden Temple to SGPC (organization).On the non-violent agitation of valiant Sikhs, Mahatma Gandhi sent a telegraph message hailing the victory as ‘first decisive battle for India’s freedom won’.
But Indira Gandhi not caring for the sanctity of the Golden Temple and Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violent struggle for India’s independence decided to send Indian Army with tanks and mortars to attack the Golden Temple, holiest of holy Sikh shrine, apparently to flush out Bhinderanwale and his militants, whom Indira Government with the assistance of Darbara Singh CM of Punjab and Zail Singh then Home Minister of central Government had made a hero of prominence.
For a while one should close ones eyes and imagine: how Christians all over the world would have reacted if Italian Army had attacked Vatican with tanks and destroyed part of church of Rome. Also how Muslims all over the world would have cried and taken revenge if Mecca, their holiest shrine, where millions of Muslims from all over the world go for “Haj” every year, had been attacked with tanks by Saudi Arabian Army. Lastly how Hindus all over the world have wept if Mathura, Kashi temples in north or Tirupati temple in South had been attacked by Indian Army with all the force of tanks and latest arms?
Golden Temple for Sikhs all over the world is as sacred and sacrosanct as Mecca for Muslims, Rome for Christians and Kashi and Mathura for Hindus. One fails to understand why Indira Gandhi chose to attack Golden Temple after almost year long preparation? Was it to teach Akali’s and Sikh’s a lesson in revenge, for Akali’s opposition to emergency during which out of total of 80,000 arrests all over India as many as 30,000 Akali’s and Sikhs courted arrest? Whatever the reason attack on Golden Temple was most unfortunate and unforgivable.
Indian Army units stationed at all the entry points (gates) of Golden Temple but allowed Bhinderanwalis associates and militants to enter with arms. Army units and armed soldiers could prevent their entry or at least disarm them but, seemingly from orders from Delhi they did not.
On the other hand government cleverly chose a Sikh Major General R S Barar who was asked to contact two senior Lieutant Generals Sunder ji and Dayal as situation in Punjab and in Golden Temple Complex had become very serious and the militants housed in Akal Takhat might have to be eliminated by military action. It is well known that it was Indira Gandhi decision to attack Golden Temple to flush out or kill the militants. Accordingly on 2nd June 1984 Indira spoke on All India Radio about bloodshed saying “ all sectors of Punjab not to shed blood but shed hatred ”. This was just to justify her decision to attack Golden Temple. Accordingly, without waiting any further on 3rd June ‘Punjab’s road, rail and telephone links with the whole of India were cut off so that Punjab was fully segregated and could have no contacts out of Punjab during impeding Army attack. On the other hand, strangely curfew in Amritsar was lifted on 3rd June as it was martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev so that more people could gather in Golden Temple. Sporadic firing stated on 4th by both the Army and militants. But actual Army attack was launched on the night of 5th— the BALCK DAY for Sikhs all over the world for Punjab and for Indira Gandhi and even for whole of india.
As there was multi-directional firing from militants of Bhinderanwale, the army commander asked for and got immediate permission to use tanks. Accordingly about ten tanks entered the premises of Golden Temple and started shooting at Akal Takhat which was virtually destroyed in a couple of hours of firing and fighting. It is estimated that more than 500 Indian Army troops last their lives while most of the militants including Bhinderanwala and Shubeg Singh were killed. In addition more than 3000 pilgrims who had come from adjoining villages to pay homage to Guru Arjan Dev an morlyedom Day (called Gurupurab) also lost their lives in the premises of Golden Temple. The pilgrims included innocent children and their mothers and fathers.
R.S. Barar who was in charge of operation ‘Blue Star’ says ‘ it must be admitted that the tenacity with which the militants held their ground, the stubborn velor with which they fought the battle and the high degree of confidence displayed by them merits praise and recognition’. Another Sikh General who won the battle against Pakistani forces in East Pakistan (East Bengal now Bangla Desh) made startling statement : The Army was used to finish a problem created by the government. This is the kind of action that is going to ruin the army (Qutated by Patwant Singh in his book ‘The Fatal Misealulation’).
Speech of a non-sikh, non-Punjab but a true Indian, caring for all religions, all cultures and provinces, on the attack on Golden Temple is an eye opener. Shri Parvathaneni Upendra spoke on the white paper in Parliament on July 25, 1984 as under:
None of us either the government or the Akali’s or the rest of the opposition has come out with any honour or with any flying colours in this sordid drama. Everyone of us has proved unequal to the task and as an Indian and as a nationalist I feel ashamed and I hang my head in shame at what has happened in Punjab recently, particularly in June. And ultimately for the first time in India’s history the Army had to be sent to a religious institution. Whatever may be the reason to the justification of the same, it is a shameful thing”.
BJP leader, L.K. Advani who, too, is non Sikh and non Punjabi spoke on the tragedy of army attack and destruction of Akal Takhat, on White Paper. He said, “ After all the destruction of Akal Takhat pained not only those who proclaim themselves as Sikhs, but even those like the rest of us”.
Khushwant Singh eminent journalist has written a book ‘My Bleeding Punjab’ on operation Blue Star and genocide of Sikhs after Indira’s assassination. He is emphatic that attack on Golden Temple could be avoided. Khushwant Singh wrote: “It could not have been very difficult for a limited commando action to capture Bhinderanwale dead or alive. At long last when the Government decided to act, it did so at the Worst possible time the death anniversary of Guru Arjan, when thousands of pilgrims were visiting the temple and the worst manner, storming the temple with tanks and armoured cars and blasting the Akal Takhat” He further added ‘ One lesson to be learnt from storming of the Golden Temple is that it was the worst way of handling the explosive situation. Another is that political economic and social problems are not solved by superior gun power but by persuasion, by give and take”. It is noteworthy that Khushwant Singh calls himself agnostic (not religious) and he also returned his title of Padam Shri conferred on him by Government of India.
From the painful reaction on storming of Akal Takhat in Golden Temple Complex and death of thousands of pilgrims women and children who have nothing to do with militant Sikhs or Bhinderanwala, it is crystal clear that deployment of Army, with tanks and armored cars was unnecessary.Had Indira Gandhi used persuasiveness and was determined to solve Bhinderanwala problem peacefully and diplomatically with use of minimum force , that, too, if other alternate way of settlement had failed. But as stated earlier, it was clear that Indira had ‘decided’ to storm Golden Temple without bothering to consider the reaction and consequences. Being a Congress leader and PM representing congress Party, she should have followed, if not fully, to some extent Gandhi ji’s philosophy of non-violence and her father Prime Minister Nehru, listened to the advice of senior civil servants and not her psychophantal ministers who were bound to approve, or keep quiet, to all policy matters and decisions she had made up her mind to take and implement. This has proved to be tragic, for her, for Sikhs and for the nation.
In June 1984, I was a senior government servant, though I heard on radio that Indian Army had entered the Golden Temple complex with tanks and destroyed the Akal Takhat, just opposite the Golden Temple proper. I silently shed tears on hearing the tragic news but could not and did not express or share my agony with any one. As senior Administrative officer of National Institute ( Indian Institute of Sugarcane Research Lucknow), I was virtually and actually head of the Institute in the absence of Director. Before going on tour which was once every month for a week or more, he would come to my room, which was opposite his room, and say “Singh Sahib now Institute is Aap Ke Hawale ie under you”. Being in such a position with full responsibility for the National Institute that had strength of more than 500 technical officers and workers. I supressed my agony and feeling fully and devoted to my duties from 8AM to 8PM. But I did express my feelings in my diary as under:
“This day last month, this time (11PM) something terrible happened in Golden Temple. I as a Government servant would not comment on it but I as a Sikh as an Indian and as a human being feel deeply hurt by the events of the night of 4th and 5th June 1984, May some hidden power, social, religious, revolutionary Marxist or anything save this country and its people.
I had been silently shedding tears every night in my bunglow without telling to anyone in the institute where there were some Sikhs, too.
About Charan Singh’s rise and fall much has been written in the main article as well in brief summaries about Morarji Desai as well as Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Though Charan Singh’s contribution to Janta Party’s victory and Indira Gandhi’s crushing defeat, but as stated, he virtually had no commendable achievement to remember. It was unfortunate for Janta Party rule with which his name could be associated and remembered. It was unfortunate for Janta Party that it had a leader and Home Minister like Charan Singh whose only aim was to be PM whether Janta Party supports him or not, whether Janta Party continues to rule or not. With the help of arch enemy of Janta Party. Indira Gandhi he defeated Morarji Desai and demolished Janta Government. However when her purpose of defeating Janta Government was achieved she got Charan Singh defeated to become Prime Minister. So less it is said about Charan Singh better it is.
With these remarks and with heavy heart we close the brief summary of Janta Party leaders and Janta Party itself.
Review of Janta Government’s short span will be incomplete without referring to the chief architects of Janta’s victory and on their brief background and their conduct, as politicians, leading to the ultimate failure of Janta government. Morarji Desai had been Chief Minister of Bombay which composed of present day Maharashtra as well as Gujarat. Though he belonged to Gujarat yet his being CM of Bombay, which was predominantly a Marathi speaking state, was not resented because at that time Congress under the leadership of Gandhiji, Sardar Patel, Pandit Nehru and Dr Rajendra Prasad was unquestionably national Party which was instrumental in winning independence (Azadi) for India.
But in due course Maharashtrians demanded ouster of Gujarati Chief Minister. There were huge demonstration even violent ones by the ‘All Party Action Committee of Sanyukta Maharashtra’. They even burnt effigies of Desai and Nehru, besides there being complete strike and thereafter unprecedented riots. When mobs indulged in looting shops and offices, police resorted to firing and that resulted into death of more than a dozen people. So Morarji Desai who had lost control of Bombay and got bad name for himself for congress and Nehru was replaced by Y.B Charan, Maharashtrian, as Chief Minister.
In 1968, young Turks led by Chander Shekhar levied charges of corruption on Desai’s son Kanti Desai. As Morarji Desai was Finance Minister he was charged with issuing licences out of turn to his favourite large Industrial Houses. As Desai also appeared to be opposed to nationalization of Banks. Indira Gandhi divested him from Finance portfolio.
As already explained, in the main articles, Desai was after Prime Ministership and hoped and tried his best, after Pandit Nehru’s demise. He could not get despite all efforts in preference to Lal Bahadur Shastri who was simple and honest. Secondly he got defeat from Indira Gandhi when he demanded voting in Parliament. His ambition to be PM, was however fulfilled after Indira’s defeat in 1976 general relations. So he became PM as Janta Party’s choice but by his failure to control the flock and impress upon equally selfish leader like Charan Singh he miserably failed. Charan Singh who, too, had ambition to be PM. He succeeded with the help of arch enemy of Janta Party, Indira Gandhi. Charan Singh broke the Janta Party and broke the heart of Desai. Thus Desai was a failure as Chief Minister of Bombay, failure as Finance Minister and failure as Prime Minister.
It is incompetent and selfish leaders like Morarji Desai and Charan Singh who tarnished the image of Janta Party and ultimately destroyed it.
Indira Gandhi used Charan Singh, Janta’s Dy CM at that time to oust the Janta Government. She could not forgive and forget Charan Singh who was instrumental in her arrest. She wanted him to be ousted within a month or so but Charan Singh was sworn as PM in July 79 and remained PM for about three months, to pave the way for Indira to be PM again, as Indira informed the President that she and her party had withdrawn support and were no more supporting Charan Singh as PM. Election Commission took 3 months to hold the elections. Accordingly Parliamentary elections were held in less than 3 years. Indira Gandhi became PM with thumping majority, winning 353 seats in Parliament out of 500 or so. This emboldened her more than during emergency because now she was legitimate and duly elected PM with absolute majority, more than in 1971 elections.
Janta’s fratricidal war between leaders and resulting unpopularity and finally Caharn Singh’s dumping Janta Party and Government for getting support of Indira Gandhi made Indira more bold, more revengeful more autocratic. Sanjay had realized that his excesses against Muslims, of large scale demolition in Turkman gate area and family planning, had antagonized Muslims. Accordingly Sanjay apologized to pacify the Muslims and get the ‘Muslim vote Bank’ back in Congress. During emergency it was Sanjay who was real dictator but after 1980 elections remained in the background and Indira became once again the dictator. Her first act was to dismiss nine state Governments. Again it was Sanjay who was now an elected MP as well as General Secretary of Congress, who started weilding authority and power on behalf of PM. It was Sanjay who was to decide who was to be given Congress ticket for Assembly elections and who would be Chief Minister of a Congress ruled state. But unfortunately for mother Indira her son Sanjay died in a single engine plane crash which he was piloting, as a hobby, in New Delhi almost over his residence and PM’s residence. By the end of August Indira persuaded her second son Rajiv who was a pilot in an airline to resign from his job and assist her.
Soon one of the biggest strike of workers was witnessed which went on for two years in Bombay, as the demand of the workers to revise wages ie minimum wage from Rs 670 PM to 940 was rejected by the Government. More than 2,00,000 workers had participated in that strike as a result more than 2 million man days were last. During the same period there was demand for creation of separate State of Jharkhand, mainly inhabited by tribals. Early 1980’s saw revival of demand for independent state of Nogaland under aegis of National socialist council of Nogaland (NSCN) which charged Phizo and his Shillong accord during emergency as sell out. NSCN gurillas in Feb 1988 ambushed a military convoy and killed more than 20 military personnel. The Army restricted with farce and military and NSCN submitted. There was also movement in Assam for new economic policy for the state. Assames also demanded deletion of names of immigrants from voters lists, particularly Bengalis and Muslims.
As explained earlier, during emergency Akalis opposed most vehemently imposition of emergency. As a result out of the total arrests during emergency more than 50% were Akali Sikhs mainly from Punjab who opposed imposition of emergency and courted arrest including Parkash Singh Badal former Chief Minister and leaders of SGPC, the Sikh premier religious organization which managed all the Gurdwara’s of Punjab. During the first 3 months of emergency more than 80,000 people- protesters, leaders and journalists were arrested of these more than 30,000 were Akalis.
So much opposition by Akalis in particular and Sikhs in general infuriated Indira Gandhi and when the time came after the Congress under Indira Gandhi’s leadership was returned to power in 1980 elections with unprecedented majority in Parliament, congress winning 353 seats in Parliament. This not only emboldened her but it got into her head she become revengeful particularly of Sikhs and Akalis as Sikhs constituted only 1.5% of India’s population but had protested against imposition of emergency and were 30% of total arrests during emergency. She at once made up her mind to humiliate and punish not only Akalis but the entire Sikh Community.
Indira immediately started to find ways and means of achieving this nefarious aim by consulting her close associates Sikhs in congress like Giani Zail Singh.
With the end of emergency Badal again became the CM of Punjab, as he was before the imposition of emergency and his subsequent arrest with other prominent members of his cabinet and SGPC. This was not that congress under Indira Gandhi liked, so she started finding ways and means to oust Akalis and punish Sikhs as a whole.
Bhindranwale who was vociforous against Nirankaris and was a seminary of Damdami Taksal, suited Congress and Indira so that an orthodox Sikh faction fights the Akalis. Bhindranwale was built up by Sanjay Gandhi and the Union Home Minister Zail Singh ( himself a former Chief Minister of Punjab) as a counter to the Akalis. Writing in September 1982, the journalist Ayesha Kagal remarked that the Bhindranwale was ‘originally a product nurtured and marketed by the centre to cut into the Akali Dal’s sphere of influence’. (page 559)
Bhindranwale used to come fully armed to New Delhi on the top of a Bus full of his fanatic followers but Delhi Government or Central Government did not take any action to disarm him not to speak of arresting him. He addressed Sikh gathering in Delhi Gurdwaras particularly Bangla Sahib, hardly one km from Central Secretariat. This clearly shows that Indira Gandhi wanted him to be strong rival of Akalis. With the dismissal of Akali Government in 1980 because of apparent Akali-Sikh and, Nirankari violent conflict initiated by Bhindranwala. Punjab situation became tense, because of Bhinderanwale’s militant followers , but no action was taken by the Central or Delhi Government.
In April 80, Nirankari leader Baba Gurcharan Singh was shot dead in New Delhi. It was assumed that this was the work of Bhinderanwale who addressed a number of Sikh gatherings from Akal Takhat inside the Golden Temple complex. He was not prevented by police from taking arms inside the temple complex. Rather he was facilitated to do so. The challenge of Bhinderawale made peaceful and uncommited Sikhs, besides Akalis, to join his demand for a ‘Sikh Republic’ or state. Bhinderawale now compared Congress Rule to Moughal Rule against which the Sikhs under Maharaja Ranjit Singh fought and defeated Muslims in Punjab, NWFP and Kashmir. To gain popularity among peasant Sikhs, in particular, he wanted and tried to make Sikhs, (particularly Akalis) militants, Bhinderanwale became a hero when after the murder, in September 1981, of Lala Jagat Narain a famous editor who had exposed Bhinderanwale and his followers, and was arrested on charge of murder but released after three weeks. His arrest was dramatic. Darbara Singh, Chief Minister of Punjab wanted to arrest him then and there but Zail Singh prevented him from doing so fearing the fall out. But after sometime Bhinderanwale offered to be arrested by a Sikh Police Officer bearing beard and with turban. Punjab Government agreed to his conditions. His arrest and release after three weeks made Bhinderanwale undisputed leader of Sikhs, more important and more influential than any Sikh leader, including Badal.
That Darbara Singh a Sikh Chief Minister of Punjab and Zail Singh a Sikh Home Minister of Government of India were Indira’s henchmen who played neforious anti Sikh role at the bidding of Indira and facilitated her effort to turnish the image of Akali’s in particular and sikh’s in general as Communal, separatists and even anti-Indira and anti-India. It will be more clear from the following:
“ To give a new twist to Punjab situation several heads of cows were placed before Hindu temple in Amritsar” according to government media, this provocative act was of Dal Khalsa which was banned in May 1982. But emphatic denial of Dal Khalsa was blocked out from media. However in an interview Dr Gopal Singh of Himachal University said ‘ it was the work of Darbara Singh’s agents. It is for record that some Muslim butchers from Saharnpur recruited to throw cow-heads at places of Hindu worship were arrested at Amritsar but the inconvenient news was suppressed’. Giani Zail Singh who knew the truth about cow-heads being placed at Hindu places of worship was told by Indira not to speak on Punjab or proofer any advice unsolicited’ (Dr Sangat Singh, Sikhs in History page 384-85).
Throughout 1982, on the other side negotiations on Anandpur Sahib Resolution between the Akali’s and the Indira government continued but without any result. Thus all Akali legislators en mass resigned from Punjab Assembly because of delaying tactics of the Government. Akali’s became more vociferous as well as active as challenge of Bhinderanwale who had been made a Sikh hero, was upsetting Akali’s and they were loosing followers and workers.
Not to be left behind Akali started organizing Shahidi Jathas ie Martyers Squads, and started comparing congress rule with Mughal rule and addressed the Akali gatherings to be ready for supreme sacrifice to end the tyranny of Indira rule. In April 83 a senior Police officer A.S. Atwal was killed after he had left Golden Temple after prayers but Bhinderanwale followers thought he had been sent by Inidra to survey the hide outs of Sikh militants in Golden Temple Cmplex, particularly Akal Takhat.
In October 83 a bus was stopped and Hindu passengers were segregated, obviously by Bhinderanwale followers and Killed. Bhinderanwale and his militants fully armed entered Golden Temple and took up residence in Akal Takhat.
With the rise of Bhinderanwale with the support of Indira Government through Darbara Singh and Zail Singh, Akal Takhat was allowed to be occupied and became virtually a citadel of Bhindreranwale and his militant followers. Bhinderanwale started addressing the followers from Akal Takhat daily and like the Sikh Gurus started issuing Hukamnamas (orders). To make his Akal Takhat fortress more effective a retired Major General of Indian Army Subheg Singh was authorized to surprise the arming and preventive measures of Akal Takhat so that it could withstand the possible attack by Government forces and even repulse.
Both sides, Indira Government and Bhinderanwale squads were now ready to face armed confrontation. Government wanted a senior Sikh military officer to lead military operations. Accordingly Major General R.S. Barar was appointed and briefed by the Generals Sunderji and Dayal. It was clear that the Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had decided to trounce the Akali’s and Sikhs in their most sacred and historical Gurdwara and Akal Takhat, the Golden Temple Complex, though for last year or so she had been negotiating with Akalis on one side and preparing for attack on Golden Temple on the other. The tragedy was bound to be worst because such a day of attack by Indian Army was chosen which was 5th Sikh Guru. Arjan Dev martyrdom day and thousands of Sikhs had come to pay homage to the great Guru.