The lone surviving frontline commander of Operation Bluestar expresses surprise at how a hate campaign is being handed down generations to keep the Khalistan sentiment alive under the noses of liberal democracies like India, the UK and the USA. Excerpts of the interview:
Charges against two persons who attacked you were downgraded today, while nine others who were picked up in connection with the incident were let out on bail. Why has that been done?
They arrested 13 suspects, of which nine are out on bail. Charges against two people have been downgraded from 'attempt to murder' to 'intent to cause grievous bodily harm'. In order to prove the murder charge, you require a lot of witnesses. That could be one of the reasons. The second reason is that the knife didn't pierce my arteries. If the knife had gone right down to the arteries, attempt to murder would hold. I was told that this process will be speedy.
Your attackers were in their early 30s. During Operation Bluestar, they must've been four years old.
Yes, they don't know anything about the operation. They have been told about it. A lot of doctored footage of the operation has been circulated around Europe, UK and Canada. The youth have been indoctrinated and told about the operation was an attack on the Sikhs, on the holy Darbar sahib and how revenge needs to be taken. This rips up your sentiments, your emotions. It is an ideology of the hardcore passed on to the innocent youths. If you go to the gurudwaras abroad in places like the Uk and Canada, open you will find 'Khalisatan zindabad' boards there. The British government can't do anything about it because of their liberal policies, nor can the American government but look at the damage it is doing to the youth.
India's policies are just as liberal because now a memorial is going to be erected for the martyrs of the operation without any opposition from the state. Union home minister Sushilkumar Shinde hasn't opposed the move. What is your reaction?
That's true, we are not doing anything about it. There has to be some limit to these liberal policies. I'm very sad. It makes everyone in uniform feel terrible, whether you are retired or whether you are serving. You have that anger, that my chief of army staff, a brave, highly decorated officer was carrying out the task in the line of duty has been murdered when he has retired and gone home.
And now the assassins are being honoured. They're being called martyrs. Are they martyrs for murdering someone? Firstly, they were criminals who belong to a militant group. A martyr is someone who has done something for a cause. What is the cause? To kill an innocent general. This is disgraceful.
Why has the government not taken a strong stand, especially with talks of the Khalistan movement gaining momentum here and abroad?
I don't know, they must have their reasons. They have their own political problems in Delhi. Maybe they've been cowed down by the Akali threat that we will do what we want. The government should assert itself and say this is a matter of national security and we should stop this because it will create the mayhem like the violence that we saw in the 1980s. We don't want a repetition of that.
After all these years, we would like the wounds to be healed and not reopened. This will have an overall effect on the Indian security. People across the border in Pakistan are also supporting the radicals. Abroad, they are collecting money from the rich Sikhs and sending it to Punjab as well as to the ISI.
ISI has a cell in Pakistan which trains Babbar Khalsa and other militant groups. The money is slowly being pumped into India to regroup those who want to join this movement. Slowly and steadily, the whole thing is snowballing into the situation we witnessed in the 1980s.
So we must nip it in the bud. We must not allow it to happen and then try and act against it. We allowed the Golden Temple to be fortified. We allowed Bhindranwale to take complete control of Punjab. Punjab police had no authority left, the administration had collapsed, murders were taking place everyday, there was no law and order whatsoever. We allowed the situation to reach that stage. The DIG was murdered and thrown outside the Golden Temple. Politics allowed it to reach that stage and then we acted.
Once Bhindranwale became a prophet, we decided to take him down. Why wait for that time? I know my views are angering the Sikh population but I'm airing my views as a soldier and as a human being who wants to see this country strong and not broken up. It's unfortunate in doing so, I'm also putting my life in danger.
Despite the threat to your life, you refuse to move to Delhi?
Why should I move? You think Delhi is any safer? It's closer to Punjab. It's easier to get me there. Here, I'm in a military cantonment and I've spent 20 years here. I have my friends and relatives here. There'll be no attack on me here. This plan to attack me was hatched in Germany on June 6t and it was to be carried out in India. But it happened in London.