By Jaideep Sarin
Chandigarh, Feb 11: With the controversy over the role of various governments and top leaders in Operation Bluestar – the 1984 army operation in the Golden Temple complex – heating up in recent weeks, former Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh Tuesday said all documents pertaining to that time should be de-classified so that the truth is brought out in the open.
“I think it is time for all documents of that time to be de-classified and the truth about everything should come out in the open,” Amarinder Singh told IANS in an interview here.
“The documents with the central government and the Punjab government should be de-classified now. Let the truth come out on who did what at that time,” said an aggressive Amarinder.
Amarinder had resigned from parliament and the Congress after the then prime minister Indira Gandhi ordered the army inside the Golden Temple complex, which is home to the Harmandar Sahib, the holiest of Sikh shrines, in June 1984.
He has been questioning the role of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal during that period.
“He was hobnobbing with central leaders in Delhi at that time. Just before Operation Bluestar, he went into hiding. He is telling lies that he was under arrest when the army operation took place.
“He was arrested a few days after the incident. He is equally responsible for Operation Bluestar. He is a coward,” Amarinder said.
“Badal before, during and after Operation Bluestar was a free man and deliberately went into hiding for reasons best known to him. There are several documents about the developments related to Operation Bluestar and about the fact that Badal was not in jail at that time as he was falsely trying to claim,” the former chief minister said.
“Badal should clarify his meeting with a central minister just days before the operation and his subsequent going into hiding,” he demanded.
“He (Badal) was involved in the negotiations before Operation Bluestar. On May 26 (1984), Badal, along with (then SGPC president) Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Surjit Singh Barnala met central leaders including P.V. Narsimha Rao, Shiv Shankar and Pranab Mukherjee.
“Immediately after, Tohra came to Patiala while Barnala went to Chandigarh and Badal stayed back only to be seen in Bazpur a few days later. This is leading to a lot of suspicion about his voluntary disappearance,” Amarinder said.
A controversy broke out recently, 30 years after Operation Bluestar, when documents of the British government revealed that India had sought British advice before ordering the flushing out of heavily armed militants led by separatist leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale from the Golden Temple complex.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague recently confirmed that Britain had advised the then Indian government ahead of the June 1984 storming of the Golden Temple by the Indian Army but clarified that Britain had no operational involvement in Operation Bluestar.
Amarinder reiterated that Badal was lying about his claim that he (Badal) was in jail when the operation took place.
Accusing Badal of trying to make political capital out of the situation, Amarinder questioned his silence about the killing of nearly 35,000 people across Punjab during the terrorism years (1981-1992).
On the anti-Sikh riots that followed the assassination of Indira Gandhi by her two Sikh bodyguards Oct 31, 1984, Amarinder reiterated that he had heard the names of five prominent Congress leaders who were accused of instigating mobs to kill Sikhs.
The names, he said, included Congress leaders Sajjan Kumar, H.K.L. Bhagat, Dharam Dass Shastri, Lalit Maken and Arjun Dass.
However, he said it was wrong to say that nobody was punished for the anti-Sikh riots. ”442 people were convicted for the riots, of whom 49 were sentenced to life imprisonment and three for 10 years or more in jail. Besides, six police officials were also punished for various lapses during the riots,” he said. IANS