First of all I don't hold the views of this article merely bringing this to light. Sikh Times it seems is also under false propaganda in one point saying Sant Ji was a gender discriminiser... Thoughts on this article - 5 Myths are also lies and cite Hindustani Times and such other filth.Myth #5: Bhindranwale Survived Operation Bluestar and Is Alive and Well
Damdami Taksal is the influential religious school, once located in the village Bhinder5, where Bhindranwale was initially a student and eventually jathedar (head priest). The seminary's current jathedar, Thakur Singh, has continued to maintain that Bhindranwale is still alive.6
According to Lt. Gen. Kuldip Singh Brar, who commanded Operation Bluestar, '[the bodies] of Bhindranwale and Shahbeg were identified by a number of agencies including the police, the I.B. [intelligence Bureau] and militants in our custody.'7 Bhindranwale's brother is also reported to have identified Bhindranwale's body.8 Pictures of what appears to be Bhindranwale's body have been published in at least two widely circulated books.9,10
Whereas there can be little doubt that Bhindranwale is no more, the circumstances of his final moments remain shrouded in mystery. The New York Times reported three distinct versions of Bhindranwale's death.
Veteran B.B.C. correspondent Mark Tully relates an incident during Bhindranwale's funeral. Captain Bhardwaj 'on lifting the sheet to make sure it was Bhindranwale [asked] the police why the Sant's [sant is an honorific title analogous to Saint] body was so badly battered.' A police officer replied, 'The extremists broke his bones.'11
At the other end of the spectrum lies Dilbir Singh's account. Dilbir Singh was 'Public Relations Advisor at Guru Nanak Dev University for seven years [and] was with the Sant constantly from 1978 until the last week of his life.' He was also 'at that time a correspondent of the Tribune and formerly of the Patriot.' He stated, 'In the fight Bhindranwale was injured on the right side of his temple. A government doctor verified he was captured alive. He was tortured to death.'12
R.K. Bajaj, a correspondent for Surya magazine, is said to have confirmed that 'he had personally seen a photograph of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale in army custody.'13
Myth #4: Bhindranwale Was a Man of Religion Without Political Ambition
Bhindranwale made repeated claims to the effect that he had no interest in political power, 'If I ever become president of the Akali Dal or the S.G.P.C. [shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee], an M.L.A., a government minister, or a member of parliament . . . I shall deserve a shoe-beating by you.'14,15
In contrast, we have the following examples of Bhindranwale's abundant political aspirations year after year:
During the S.G.P.C. elections of 1979, 'Of the forty candidates Bhindranwale put up [for a total of 140 seats], all but four were defeated.'16
'For all his protestations that he was not a politician, Bhindranwale campaigned actively for the Congress in three constituencies' during the 1980 general elections.17
During the 1981 elections to the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (D.S.G.P.C.), 'in an attempt to divide Akali votes, the Congress (I) had asked the A.I.S.S.F. [All India Sikh Students Federation] to put up candidates for the Delhi gurdwaras whose campaign was led by Sant Bhindranwale. No A.I.S.S.F. candidate won.'18
At one point in 1983, the Talwandi-Tohra faction of the Akali Dal got a section of the S.G.P.C. to recommend Bhindranwale for the position of jathedar of the Akal Takht.19
According to India Today, in the months leading up to Operation Bluestar about a third of Longowal's S.G.P.C. members and district Akali Dal presidents had 'defected' to Bhindranwale.20
The Darbar Sahib's Public Relations Officer (P.R.O.) Narinderjit Singh Nanda recalled, 'Bhindranwale told me that within thirty days he was taking over the S.G.P.C.'21
However, given his poor record in electoral politics and a disinclination to play by the rules, he had little incentive to seek formal political office. He was already 'the uncrowned emperor.'22 As articulated by Time magazine, 'Bhindranwale had become so popular he had usurped the Akalis' authority.'23 He wielded more informal power than all of Punjab's formal political players combined and liked the idea of 'keeping all factions chasing his favor [whereby] no faction made a move in Punjab without considering the response it would draw from Bhindranwale.'24
Bhindranwale operated 'from inside a whale,'25 seemingly without concern for other points of view. 'In this independence lay much of Bhindranwale's appeal.'26 Yet, the same aloofness also represented his most significant weakness: a failure to participate in the democratic process.
'Villagers came to him with their problems, Bhindranwale pronounced judgments and called frightened policemen on the telephone to instruct them on how a matter was to be settled.'27
Subhash Kirpekar was 'perhaps the last journalist to meet the lion in his den.' During the interview Bhindranwale responded thus to a question on succession planning, 'It is not an elective post. I think whosoever attains the status of God will come up as my successor.'28
Myth #3: Bhindranwale Did Not Demand Khalistan
In the absence of a universally accepted definition of the term 'Khalistan,' the usage here is consistent with its origin wherein Dr. Vir Singh Bhatti envisioned it in 1940 as a 'theocratic' monarchy, which would by definition be inconsistent with the Indian Constitution.29
Bhindranwale's standard response to the question of Khalistan, an independent Sikh state, was noncommittal: 'we are not in favor of Khalistan nor are we against it.'30 He often also clarified that if Khalistan came about, 'We won't reject it. We shall not repeat the mistake of 1947.'31 To that he added, 'if the Indian Government invaded the Darbar Sahib complex, the foundation for an independent Sikh state will have been laid.'32
The book Fighting for Faith and Nation: Dialogues with Sikh Militants by Cynthia Keppley Mahmood has received wide acceptance among radical Sikhs. In the book, Harpal Singh recalls a meeting with Bhindranwale during which the preacher remarked, 'staying in India would mean the genocide of the Sikhs.'33 The implication that anything short of a separate state would spell eventual disaster for the Sikhs amounted to an implicit vote for Khalistan. On other occasions Bhindranwale was more explicit, 'Frankly, I don't think the Sikhs can live with or within India.'34
The Dal Khalsa, responsible for hoisting a Khalistan flag at a Sikh convention on March 20, 1982 at Anandpur Sahib, were seen forming a protective ring around Bhindranwale when, in 1981, he was holding the police at bay at Chowk Mehta in an attempt to avoid arrest.35 Although 'Bhindranwale was never openly associated with the Dal Khalsa,' most observers regarded it as 'Bhindranwale's party.'36
In early 1983, India's intelligence is said to have obtained a copy of a letter from Bhindranwale to Jagjit Singh Chauhan in which he promised full support for Khalistan.37
Finally, while we're on the subject, we might as well also cover one other related myth, i.e. that Khalistan has never had any substantial support amongst Sikhs in India. In an interview with B.B.C. correspondent Mark Tully just days before his death, S.G.P.C. President Gurcharan Singh Tohra answered a question about his personal views on Khalistan by admitting that 'some personal desires are better kept hidden.'38 According to Ved Marwah, a former senior police officer on Indira Gandhi's 'select committee for monitoring Punjab affairs,' a majority of the Sikhs supported separatism in the wake of Operation Bluestar.39 In a recent interview,40 Lt. Gen. Kuldip Singh Brar estimated that if Khalistan had been declared prior to Operation Bluestar, 'a large section of the Punjab police might have crossed over to support Bhindranwale.'
Overly optimistic claims by pro-India commentators that the Sikhs have 'moved on' are consistently belied by informed parties who note, '[Operation Bluestar] has not been forgotten, and you [the visitor] will find many people in Amritsar keen to explain the Sikh side of the story.'41
Myth #2: Only a Tiny Minority of Sikhs Revere Bhindranwale as a Martyr
In Khushwant Singh's words, '[Operation Bluestar] gave the movement for Khalistan its first martyr in Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale.'42
In 1985, Harkishan Singh Surjeet had optimistically announced that Bhindranwale's martyr status would only be 'temporary.'43
However, on this day last year, Joginder Singh Vedanti, the jathedar of the Akal Takht, an approximate Sikh counterpart to the Vatican, formally declared Bhindranwale a 'martyr' and awarded his son, Ishar Singh, a siropa (robe of honor).44 The function was organized by the S.G.P.C., 'a sort of parliament of the Sikhs.'45
The Encyclopedia of Sikhism, edited by Harbans Singh, a widely respected scholar of Sikh studies, describes Bhindranwale as 'a phenomenal figure of modern Sikhism.'46
Bhindranwale's posters and speeches are among the 'most popular' items at Punjab's rural fairs, held on occasions such as the Hola Mohalla festival.47
Gurtej Singh Brar, a former I.A.S. officer and S.G.P.C. National Professor of Sikhism, was suspended from the I.A.S. for making the following statement: 'The Sikh nation theory has been current among the Sikhs since the time of Guru Nanak. There should be others like Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale to lead the Sikhs and take up their cause of righteousness and truth.'48
Several North American gurdwaras prominently display Bhindranwale's pictures at entrances and in langar (community kitchen) halls. This writer has personally witnessed the phenomenon at gurdwaras in Detroit, Michigan and Toronto, Ontario (see picture).
In the words of Vir Sanghvi, one of India's leading political commentators, '[bhindranwale] remains a martyr in the eyes of many Sikhs. Even today, rare is the Sikh politician who will dare to call him what he was: a fanatic and a murderer.'49
Myth #1: Bhindranwale Was Not a Terrorist
In 1985, Citizens for Democracy (C.F.D.), founded by Jayaprakash Narayan and chaired by the noted civil libertarian Justice V.M. Tarkunde, produced a report on the Punjab crisis. The report, banned in India because of its strong indictment of the state, has received wide acceptance within the diaspora Sikh community despite its acknowledgement of 'Bhindranwale's role in inciting violence.'50
Violent thoughts seemed second nature to Bhindranwale. He often made extremely cruel remarks with utmost sincerity, 'If a true Sikh drinks, he should be burnt alive.'51 Tavleen Singh discovered that in Bhindranwale's darbar (court), 'concepts like non-violence were mocked and sneering remarks made about Gandhi.'52 Perhaps Khushwant Singh said it best, 'He well understood that hate was a stronger passion than love.'53
Although the 'mad monk'54 was politically astute enough to recant vicious statements made in the heat of the moment, it is instructive to note just how bellicose he was when aroused.
Harmit Singh Batra was in the Darbar Sahib complex on April 13, 1978 and quotes Bhindranwale, 'We will not allow this Nirankari convention to take place. We are going to march there and cut them to pieces!'55
Following the clash with the Nirankaris on April 13, 1978, the 'Sant' and his cohorts were always armed. Bhindranwale often publicly recited his mantra, 'being armed, there is no sin greater than not seeking justice.'56 And they perceived plenty of injustice all around, which they rectified with the use of illegal force.
After the assassination of the Nirankari leader Gurbachan Singh on April 24, 1980, Bhindranwale is universally acknowledged to have remarked that if he ever met Ranjit Singh, the suspected killer, he would weigh him in gold (i.e. reward him with his weight in gold).57
On October 22, 1982, Bhindranwale made a public statement threatening the 'political and physical end' of anyone who didn't press for the full implementation of the Anandpur Sahib Resolution.58
On August 17, 1983, Bhindranwale asked Sikh youth to buy a motorcycle and a revolver and threatened to kill 5,000 Hindus in an hour if the police delayed the minibus he had sent to fetch Amrik Singh who had just been released from police custody.59
During a speech on September 20, 1983, Bhindranwale stated clearly that he would 'embrace' Sikhs who exacted revenge upon those who were guilty of torturing, killing, or humiliating Sikhs. He said, 'Getting away from there is your job, protecting you here [in the Darbar Sahib complex] is mine.'60
On November 17, 1983, Bhindranwale bluntly demanded 'that all Hindus should leave Punjab.'61
During a public speech delivered on May 24, 1984 at the Darbar Sahib complex, Bhindranwale openly admitted his complicity in the gruesome beheading of Surinder Singh Chinda for his role in the elimination of Bhindranwale's leading hit man, Surinder Singh Sodhi.62
Even Bhindranwale's staunchest supporters only go as far as stating, 'Bhindranwale consistently opposed violence against any innocent person.'63 The autocratic Bhindranwale had assumed singular jurisdiction over the guilt and innocence of a good portion of India's citizens. And to him lethal violence was a justified means of punishment for those whom he considered culpable. He was the legislature, executive and judiciary all rolled into one with complete disregard for the democratic concept of the separation of powers. The result was nothing short of 'ethnic cleansing.'64
Dilbir Singh (see above) related the following account of how masterfully Bhindranwale ordered the killing of Lala Jagat Narain, proprietor-editor of the Hind Samachar group of newspapers:
And in one edition Lala had written in an editorial comment that Taura [Tohra, then president of the S.G.P.C.] and Ajnoha [then jathedar of the Akal Takht] are traitors. On that day in a great fury he [bhindranwale] called upon someone to read aloud what Lala had said. There was quiet. 'Our turban has been torn from our heads,' he proclaimed. Then one of his followers asked, 'What are your orders?' Again in anger, he said 'Orders, you need orders! What orders? Are you blind?' Now you see he did not say anything. And they said it. 'O.K.' meaning thereby, we'll finish this man. So, then, 3-4 days later, Lala was coming from Ludhiana and they fired upon him.65
According to Chand Joshi, a veteran correspondent for The Hindustan Times, 'In the Nirankari Baba murder case, for instance, the C.B.I. claimed to have pin-pointed four suspects including Jarnail Singh Brar alias Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. The arrest warrants had been given to the Punjab police but were not served because of 'orders from the highest quarters.' '66
It is worth noting, 'The decision to release Bhindranwale was taken by the [indira Gandhi and Zail Singh] government. It was not the verdict of a court.'67
Finally, it is impossible to accept that the people closest to Bhindranwale could consistently perpetrate monstrous violence without his endorsement.
Nachhatar Singh, arrested by the police for the murder of Lala Jagat Narain, is said to have fingered Bhindranwale for ordering the killing.68
The hijackers of an Indian Airlines plane on September 20, 1981 claimed to be members of the Dal Khalsa and demanded the release of Bhindranwale, who had been arrested in connection with the murder of Lala Jagat Narain.69 In a speech, Bhindranwale 'praised his young lieutenants' for the hijacking.70
On July 18, 1982, a police party from the Beas Thana in Amritsar district stopped a jeep. Most of the occupants were residents of Bhindranwale's gurdwara Gurdarshan Parkash at Chowk Mehta. They attacked the police and were arrested. No case was initiated.71
The next day, Amrik Singh, Bhindranwale's most trusted lieutenant, and six close associates of Bhindranwale, including Bhindranwale's personal driver Kulwant Singh, were arrested for an attempt on the life of Joginder Singh Sandhu, the Nirankari Mandal's propaganda secretary.72
In closing, here is a sampling of additional points to ponder:
Whereas 'nobody was ever refused an interview,'73 he refused to surrender to anyone but sufficiently orthodox Sikh policemen.74
While he professed the highest standards of Sikhism, he practiced gender discrimination.75
Although he viewed modernity as evil, he had no compunctions about using modern firearms.
Whereas many Sikhs regard him as a 'messiah,'76 his 1984 prophecy failed to materialize: 'In the next ten years Sikhs will get their liberation. This will definitely happen.'77