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‘Pranab, I know of the consequences’ - Indira Gandhi to Mukherjee on Operation Bluestar

President Pranab Mukherjee in the second volume of his memoir, The Turbulent Years: 1980-96, has shared account of couple significant events during the 1980’s and early 1990’s.


‘Pranab, I know of the consequences’ - Indira Gandhi to Mukherjee on Operation Bluestar
Pic Courtesy: @RashtrapatiBhvn

Delhi: President Pranab Mukherjee in the second volume of his memoir, The Turbulent Years: 1980-96, has shared account of couple significant events during the 1980’s and early 1990’s. One of the things that he has talked about is Operation Bluestar wherein in 1984 the Army had stormed Golden Temple in Amritsar to flush out terrorists.

Following are extracts from the book as published in Hindustan Times:

The Punjab crisis dominated Indian politics between 1980 and 1984. In 1981, the Akali Dal submitted a memorandum to Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ‘of forty-five religious, political, economic and social demands and grievances, including the issue of sharing Punjab’s river waters between Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan and the quest for the transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab, and launched a virulent campaign around them’...

...Though the 1973 Anandpur Sahib Resolution had called for a high degree of autonomy for Punjab, the Akali Dal was not satisfied with that proposal. In April 1981, one of its leaders, Jathedar Jagdev Singh Talwandi, called for an autonomous state to be set up in North India forthwith, wherein Sikh interests would be recognized as of primary and special importance. This proposed state of Khalistan would have its own Constitution and not be governed by the Indian Constitution.

In November 1982, the foremost Akali leader, Sant Harcharan Singh Longowal, in a new elucidation of the Anandpur Sahib Resolution, said that a Sikh religious state with all Punjabi-speaking people within it should be created to preserve Sikh tradition and religion. In Punjab, Amrik Singh, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and several others started advocating the use of violence for a break-up of the Indian union and the creation of an independent Khalistan. The Akali Dal’s organized effort to confront the government with its demands soon resulted in the rise of extremism. Both violent action as well as public incitement to violence became commonplace...

...Taking full advantage of the government’s policy that the police would not enter any religious institution, the Golden Temple in Amritsar became a safe haven for their activities.

...Even a few days before Operation Blue Star, an attempt was made to find a. solution by holding a meeting with the Akali Dal leaders who were brought from jail to the lounge of the Chandigarh airport at midnight. PV Narasimha Rao, Cabinet Secretary Krishnaswamy Rao Sahib and I represented the government in that meeting. Unfortunately, the talks remained unsuccessful...

...By May 1984, it became increasingly clear that there was no alternative but military action to flush out the terrorists within the Golden Temple-particularly as the negotiations and discussions had not yielded the desired results. On 3 June, the Indian army entered the Golden Temple in a military operation code-named Operation Blue Star. Some believe that this course of action could have been avoided. But the reality that confronted the government at that time was that Bhindranwale and his followers had occupied and taken control of the Golden Temple, disregarding its sanctity...

...I still vividly recall Mrs Gandhi telling me, ‘Pranab, I know of the consequences.’ She understood the situation well and was clear that there was no other option. Aware that her own life was at risk, she took a conscious decision to go ahead in the best interest of the nation.

The official Twitter account of Rashtrapati Bhavan also tweeted about the release of the book - 

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