Despite being a Punjabi, over the years I have come to realize that all my time living in and around Gujarat has made me ignorant about the developments that have taken place in the state in the last few decades. I don’t know whether it was appropriate for me to start my readings about the major events that have taken place in the state of Punjab in the past through this book. I got increasingly curious about Operation Blue Star from the tales narrated by my mum about her own experiences of the whole situation back in the early 80s. Yes, the tensions were rising in the 70s which finally led to what many of us has come to agree upon as ‘the aggression of the Indian army’ upon one of the most sacred places of worship for the Sikh on Earth. Many of the Sikhs worldwide call the operation as a blot on the face of their history – the Golden Temple getting desecrated by none other than the protector of the people – the army resulting into countless lives being lost.
Now, this book has been written by a person who ‘led’ the campaign into the temple. Naturally, majority of the people especially the Sikhs declared it as a one sided piece of work. It narrated the events from the angle of the author, which is that of the army. Before talking in detail about the operation, the author gives a brief history of the events that took place before the first week of June 1984 which ultimately led to the execution of this military action to provide a better understanding of the whole scenario. He talks about how the government could have acted upon the criminal activities of Bhindranwaala and his associates (especially the cases where a high ranking Police official was gunned down outside the Golden Temple, the assassination of Lala Jagat Narain and many other killing that took place on his orders) earlier which would have ultimately avoided this operation from happening. What amazes me the most is, in the first place, why did the Golden Temple authorities allow the members of Team Bhindranwala to fortify the temple and store large number of weapons inside the temple premises? Why didn’t none of the pilgrims and the priests object to this militarization of the temple? Why were the people so quick to label the army as the aggressor and not those who first violated the sanctity of the temple by virtually turning it into a militant hideout complete with bunkers and constructed barriers (which even disfigured many parts of the temple structure) armed to the teeth, ready to enter into a war with anybody who objected to their actions? If we as the people of India can answer these questions satisfactorily only then can we label the Indian army as the aggressor. For if the development before the start of the operation leading unto it as described in the book and in many different sources be labelled as true, then I think I’m with the army in the flushing out of these people from the temple. It had to be done. It’s really disheartening to read on the internet how many have labelled the sacrifices of the army men involved in the operation as and not that of laying down the lives for the protection of people against the real villain.
The procrastination on the part of the government did us all in. It could have been more pro-active by nipping the problem in the bud itself – by taking Bhindranwale into custody when all the clues related to the murders and atrocities being committed by him and his men were leading towards them. I don’t think people would have objected it as much then. Whatever the people might think about the incident, this book gives a first person view of the entire operation. Right from the planning and the implementation of the operation the entire events have been laid out before the readers in detail. A must read for anybody interested in the topic.