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Muslim Indian Brigadier (retired) Evil Israr Rahim Khan Says Operation Blue Star Was Justified


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Op Bluestar Was Justified, Says Man Who Led the Attack

Chandan Nandy

June 3, 2016, 3:09 pm

Thirty-two years ago on this day, the Golden Temple was besieged by the Indian Army under then-prime minister Indira Gandhis orders to evict and neutralise Khalistani militants led by Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale. One of the military commanders, Brigadier (retired) Israr Rahim Khan recounted the siege for The Quint last year.

A day after curfew descended on the Sikh holy city of Amritsar on 1 June 1984, a young Sikh army Captain Jasbir Singh Raina, dressed in the traditional Punjabi kurta-pajama, entered the Golden Temple. He was just one among a couple of thousand devotees and pilgrims feigning paying obeisance at Harmandir Sahib that day.

Operation Bluestar was Justified, Army Veteran Who Led the Attack Says

He was on a risky undercover mission: to spy on the presence of heavily armed terrorists who had laid siege to the Golden Temple when there was little by way of intelligence on the extremists capabilities and their specific holdouts within the sprawling complex that is the spiritual centre of Sikhism.

Patchy Intelligence

There was only patchy intelligence from the civilian security agencies. So, once Prime Minister Indira Gandhi issued the order that set in motion a bold and audacious plan of action and Major General Kuldeep Singh Bulbul Brar selected me to lead Operation Bluestar, I sent in Captain Raina, recalls Brigadier (retired) Israr Rahim Khan, then a Lieutenant Colonel commanding the 10th Guards regiment.

Captain Raina was followed by gun-wielding extremists wherever he went inside the temple complex. Once he left the temple, his debriefing did not yield much information, save some valuable information on a few of the visible gun positions of the terrorists. Of course, he had no way to find out where Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale and his well-trained comrades were hiding, Khan says, 31 years after he led the attack into the Golden Temple, the Sikh equivalent of the Vatican that scarred not just the shrine but the psyche of generations of Sikhs.

Bhindrawale Turned Temple Into a Fortress

The ornate and majestic temple had been transformed by Bhindrawale and his followers into a heavily-armed and strategically defended fortress. Brick and mortar defences, reinforced by sandbags, had been put up. And within the labyrinth of tunnels and rooms in the three floors of the temple, the terrorists had made all preparations for gun battle from which they as well as Khans battalion knew there would be very few survivors.

The Harmandir Sahib, also known as Darbar Sahib and often referred to as the Golden Temple is the holiest Sikh gurdwara. (Photo: Reuters)

The Harmandir Sahib, also known as Darbar Sahib and often referred to as the Golden Temple is the holiest Sikh gurdwara. (Photo: Reuters)

10:30 pm on 5 June was what, in the armys parlance, was HR, the hour when Khan and a small detachment of the battalion he commanded crossed the start line barefoot. Three tanks and two Russian BMPs or armoured vehicles trundled up to the Darshan Deori in the northern wing of the temple complex. Even before we entered through the Darshan Deori, we were under heavy fire from every road, lane, every gullee and every window, Khan recalled as he fidgeted with the antiquated Rolex dangling at his left wrist.

Power Supply Had to be Cut

It was pitch dark (since power supply in Amritsar had been cut) when the soldiers stormed in. Once inside the complex, the soldiers, armed with small arms LMGs, rifles, carbines and hand grenades found themselves vulnerable in the face of a volley of fire from the loopholes along the warren of rooms on the western and eastern flanks of the Parikrama. The loopholes had been converted into weapons pits. The fire came at low height, injuring my boys below their knees as they tumbled, Khan remembers.

What Went Wrong During Op Bluestar? Recalls Army Veteran Who Led it

It took a while before Khan, pistol in hand, led his troops up the stairs of the Parikrama, hurling grenades inside the dark recesses from where they could see guns spewing rapid fire. It took almost an hour before the heavily fortified rooms along the Parikrama could be cleared. But my objective was to take the Akal Takht where the terrorists were concentrated, Khan says excitably.

Unique, Extraordinary and Fierce Battle

By the time Khan reached the Akal Takht, he was grouped with a company of troops from the 1 Para Commando and another company of the Special Frontier Force, a special ops unit of the RAW. As the gunfight intensified, the army opened up with mortars. The marble floors of the three-storied Akal Takht had been dug up to create layers from where the terrorists fired at us. We moved up floor by floor and secured all of them by 2:30, Khan recalls of the unique, extraordinary and fierce battle.

When first light broke on June 6, the tanks moved in with their machine guns firing. But this hardly had any effect on the solid structure of the Akal Takht. That is when the decision to use the tanks main guns was taken. The first shell blew a gaping hole in the golden dome and subsequent salvoes silenced the terrorists guns. Later, after isolated pockets of resistance were overcome, we found buried in the debris the bodies of Bhindrawale and his commander-in-chief, retired army Major General Shahbeg Singh, who had thrown in his lot with the extremists, Khan says. The 10th Guards lost 19 men while 51 were grievously injured.

Collateral Damage

Khan admits that several of the pilgrims fell as collateral damage and that the operation could have been swiftly brought to an end if troops had moved in simultaneously from the southern wing of the temple. The soldiers were stuck there because of a massive ironed gate. A tank had to be brought in to crush the gate before the soldiers could enter and end the resistance there, Khan says.

There are no cobwebs in my mind and I believe that it was a justified order on the part of the government, the Kirti Chakra awardee beams, his light grey eyes gleaming. At that time Khan had no idea that Operation Bluestar would culminate first in Indira Gandhis assassination and then a prolonged period of death and destruction across Punjab.

http://www.thequint.com/videos/2015/06/05/watch-op-bluestar-was-justified-man-who-led-the-attack-says

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As much as the action we took was justified, we were naive and ill-prepared. I'm not sure whether the act was one of symbolic defiance prior to the inevitability of attaining shaheedi, or a belief that somehow the Singhs would be victorious against all odds. I don't know.

The tragedy lies in the subsequent pogroms against Sikhs, encouraged by the Indian state, to weaken, demoralise, and humiliate Sikhs. Did anyone really believe the Indian govt would turn against a certain section of its own population in such a hideously barbaric manner? I don't think anyone dreamt such a thing could happen. False encounters dressed up as anti-terrorist operations is an act of the lowest of the low; basically allowing the Indians to instigate acts of deadly violence to strike fear into the hearts of Sikhs in order to cower them into submission, whilst giving the impression to the wider world that all action being undertaken was justified.

After all the sacrifices Sikhs made for that filthy, third-world, degenerate country and its fickle, sub-human population. Dirty Indian bastards.

Finally, we were foolish to trust the Pakistanis. I've never received a straight answer from anyone on this forum regarding the Pakistani involvement in Sikh separatism, but whatever the extent of their involvement, they hung us out to dry. The fact that the Singhs on our side trusted those gandhe Musleh galls me beyond the belief. Did not one spiritually inclined individual on our side know the Pakistanis were playing us in their game with the Indians? We were pawns, and we fell for it. Poora bakwaas.

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Khalistan Zindabad!

India as a country has so much negative karma. India as a country will be destroyed in the future and there will be HUGE BLOOD BATH.

Kar burra, ho burra!

I understand your anger, but whose blood? Not innocents, I hope, of whatever denomination. The resentment and hate we harbour for our enemies will rise up in others for us. That's not the way.

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I understand your anger, but whose blood? Not innocents, I hope, of whatever denomination. The resentment and hate we harbour for our enemies will rise up in others for us. That's not the way.

Civil War is coming in India. Peak Oil is also going to play its role.

Naxalites, kashmir, north-east states and there are so many problems within india.

The internal problems of India will result in civil war and there will be blood bath.

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Finally, we were foolish to trust the Pakistanis. I've never received a straight answer from anyone on this forum regarding the Pakistani involvement in Sikh separatism, but whatever the extent of their involvement, they hung us out to dry. The fact that the Singhs on our side trusted those gandhe Musleh galls me beyond the belief. Did not one spiritually inclined individual on our side know the Pakistanis were playing us in their game with the Indians? We were pawns, and we fell for it. Poora bakwaas.

Im not sure wat u mean by backstabbing by paks, coz it was only that kutthhi, benazir bhutto, who backstabbed sikhs, not isi, top pak army generals n previous prime minister. The paks, supplied sikhs with top draw weapons frm 1985+. It was benazir the $lut who told the indian army/rajiv gandhi etc of the plans/hiding places of kharkhus, so to stop india/pak going to war again. From wat i understand it was benazir who overuled all her cabinet/miltary. From 1985-89, the kharkus had control over panjab, and it was after this that panjab police/"super cops"/bsf etc started committing genocidal human rights violations to stop the movement, which was on the path to success. Im not quite sure wat more u wanted pakistan to do during that time? Its a proxy war and suited them, since it wud weaken their enemy state, its nutin new in this world. Had benazir not been in power n bent over like the b!tch she was, history cudda been so different for us.

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Im not sure wat u mean by backstabbing by paks, coz it was only that kutthhi, benazir bhutto, who backstabbed sikhs, not isi, top pak army generals n previous prime minister. The paks, supplied sikhs with top draw weapons frm 1985+. It was benazir the $lut who told the indian army/rajiv gandhi etc of the plans/hiding places of kharkhus, so to stop india/pak going to war again. From wat i understand it was benazir who overuled all her cabinet/miltary. From 1985-89, the kharkus had control over panjab, and it was after this that panjab police/"super cops"/bsf etc started committing genocidal human rights violations to stop the movement, which was on the path to success. Im not quite sure wat more u wanted pakistan to do during that time? Its a proxy war and suited them, since it wud weaken their enemy state, its nutin new in this world. Had benazir not been in power n bent over like the b!tch she was, history cudda been so different for us.

Brother, you seem to be okay with us being used as pawns by the Pakistani top brass. I know beggars can't be choosers and we were punching way above our weight, but doesn't it seem a bit off to you that our so-called allies were arming or supporting us not due to some affinity for our aims or respect for us as individuals, but because they wanted to hurt the Indians by destabilising a vital part of the country? We were nothing but canon fodder to the Pakistanis. A buffer.

I find it quite insulting that we were being manoeuvred by those godless Musleh; a side that featured Sant Jarnail Singh Ji was having its strings pulled by a faceless collective of untrustworthy, slimy Pakistanis as a way of sticking it to the Indians? I consider it an insult to Dasme Paatshah that we ever approached those pieces of 5hit. I can guarantee you they promised the Singhs that if things went pear-shaped they'd intercede and back us up, because there's no way a rag-tag band of admittedly awesome fighting Singhs could've taken on the entire Indian military. Logic dictates the Pakistanis egged us on to kick things off, and they promised us they'd be behind us to back us up. Instead, they sat back, realised there was no way we were going to escape from bring cornered in Harminder Sahib, and they observed the tamasha. Yeah, Bhutto may have been the one to sell out, but the assumption that the ISI was honour-bound to help us doesn't sound right to me. We were so desperate to give what-for to the Indians that we went into cahoots with the worst possible "allies."

The enemy of my enemy is NOT my friend. Real politik 101.

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As much as the action we took was justified, we were naive and ill-prepared. I'm not sure whether the act was one of symbolic defiance prior to the inevitability of attaining shaheedi, or a belief that somehow the Singhs would be victorious against all odds. I don't know.

The tragedy lies in the subsequent pogroms against Sikhs, encouraged by the Indian state, to weaken, demoralise, and humiliate Sikhs. Did anyone really believe the Indian govt would turn against a certain section of its own population in such a hideously barbaric manner? I don't think anyone dreamt such a thing could happen. False encounters dressed up as anti-terrorist operations is an act of the lowest of the low; basically allowing the Indians to instigate acts of deadly violence to strike fear into the hearts of Sikhs in order to cower them into submission, whilst giving the impression to the wider world that all action being undertaken was justified.

After all the sacrifices Sikhs made for that filthy, third-world, degenerate country and its fickle, sub-human population. Dirty Indian bastards.

Finally, we were foolish to trust the Pakistanis. I've never received a straight answer from anyone on this forum regarding the Pakistani involvement in Sikh separatism, but whatever the extent of their involvement, they hung us out to dry. The fact that the Singhs on our side trusted those gandhe Musleh galls me beyond the belief. Did not one spiritually inclined individual on our side know the Pakistanis were playing us in their game with the Indians? We were pawns, and we fell for it. Poora bakwaas.

The reason why pakistani rats support khalistan is because it will break up their arch rival hindu dominated India. But true sikhs true Khalistani's want to break up Pakistan also so we that we can claim lahore as our capital. Even Jagjit chauhan in 1970's claimed that lahore will be capital of khalistan. And since then the pakistani govt and ISI been trying to stir Khalistan towards india only.

The Indian Sikhs dont trust pakistan they hate it thus they haven't voted on mass for pro-khalistan party or candidate till date. So until simranjeet mann or his successor say they want parts of pakistan as part of Khalistan then there will be little chance for Sikhs in punjab to vote for them.

During 1940s and 1950s the Sikh kingdom rulers especially rajah of faridkot formed jatha's and covert military units to prevent the creation of pakistan so that they could have a united india. The indian congress party leaders and jinnah begged the british imperialist indian troops to enforce the division of india by boundary force. Had the Sikhs rulers back then united to form a big military for Khalistan rather than fight for united India they would have prevented pakistan and created a khalistan already.

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One thing Sikhs should learn from operation blue star. Is that demographics and military intelligence is key in winning the next battle.

If you dont have enough numbers you can win elections or create a country. And if you don't have military intelligence you cant plan logistics, communication and resources to tackle the enemy at hand.

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I think Pakistan is unfairly being blamed here. They are not obliged to help anyone. They allied themselves with the Sikhs because it was a mutually beneficial relationship. They wanted to take revenge for India's role in creating Bangladesh where India helped, supplied and trained Mukti Bahini. Besides this Indian army had invaded Pak territory of Siachen in 1984 during operation meghdoot. So India had given more than enough reasons to ISI to help the Sikhs.

Benazir Bhutto was a corrupt and unprincipled politician no different from Indian politicians. She went against Pakistani interests and ISI objections by betraying the Sikh militants.

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I think Pakistan is unfairly being blamed here. They are not obliged to help anyone. They allied themselves with the Sikhs because it was a mutually beneficial relationship. They wanted to take revenge for India's role in creating Bangladesh where India helped, supplied and trained Mukti Bahini. Besides this Indian army had invaded Pak territory of Siachen in 1984 during operation meghdoot. So India had given more than enough reasons to ISI to help the Sikhs.

Benazir Bhutto was a corrupt and unprincipled politician no different from Indian politicians. She went against Pakistani interests and ISI objections by betraying the Sikh militants.

My issue lies not with Pakistan per se; they're entitled to do whatever they want to further their strategic interests. I do have a problem with our Singhs allying themselves with the followers of a faith that even Guru Gobind Singh Ji had stated cannot be trusted, because they've been proven to be liars despite swearing on their Koran.

That's one bachchan of Dasme Paatshah that was conveniently forgotten at a time when it was perhaps essential to adhere to. And as history eventually proved, it cost us dearly.

The reluctance to honestly and openly question some of the poor decisions made by the Singhs that resulted in the death and destruction of hordes of the Sikh population is quite baffling to me. NOBODY is being an armchair general, or a "hero" after the fact. None of us are fit to lace the boots of those Singhs who fought for Sikhi, and gave their lives at Harmandir Sahib. Yet, it doesn't make any Sikh disloyal to question whether the decisions they made at the time was the best course of action to take. It's what anyone who isn't a sheep should do.

I'm arguing that the fight was necessary, BUT our choice of ally was completely misguided, and strategically, historically, and theologically a very poor choice.

If some of you aren't convinced, let's look at the situation from a wholly spiritual perspective. Logicians, rationalists, and others of similar persuasions don't need to read on:

I believe in the Shaheedi Fauj. I believe they guide us in certain situations, and I'd be astounded if they weren't involved in perhaps the most important period in modern Sikh history - a moment that had the potential to shape our collective destiny for generations - with the events of the early 80's. Are any of you honestly telling me that with a side that featured Brahmgyani Sant Jarnail Singh and other mahapurash, that not ONE of these spiritual powerhouses was approached / advised by Shaheed Singhs, and therefore advised on which potential course of action to take, and who to trust and not trust? So, either Shaheed Singhs didn't bother approaching our Singhs at one of the most pivotal moments in modern Sikh history (completely unlikely), OR any advice given was ignored, because there's NO WAY Shaheed Singhs would've said, "Trust the Pakistanis. They'll guide us to victory." No, total nonsense.

If the aim was victory - and not glorious defeat in a hail of bullets - then why bother going through all the agitation in the first place? I'm sure there's a few of you who've thought these matters through in their mind, but not articulated them. Yet, nothing I've said is anti-Sikh or remotely negative towards our beliefs. If anything, I'm placing arguably undue emphasis on spiritual matters in a period of human and social turbulence, but as I said, I'm a firm believer in the unseen, and I cannot accept the protective hand of our Shaheeds that has been with us for centuries chose to desert us at our time of need, or they chose to withhold essential information that would've benefitted the Singhs of the time.

It is also known that when we think we know better than them, they withdraw their presence and, and leave us to our own devices. Perhaps egos, stubbornness, and unheeded bachchans meant this is what might have happened back then.

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U seem to keep mentioning blustar/harimandar sahib, and help from pakistan. U do realise pakistan didnt help sikhs at all, until afta 85, wen the civil war started. Ppl linkin bluestar shaheeds and pakistan/isi is an indian govt propaganda which they know will rile the dumb hindus. U only have to look at the weapons the sikhs were using during bluestar (old village/ww2 rifles) and the weapons used during the civil war (85-95), which were hi-tech rpg/uzi/ak-47/74s.

Though, if that isnt wat u implied, then i do apologise.

Me? I never raised the subject of Pakistan helping the Singhs. In fact, I even went as far to say to say that nobody has ever openly discussed on this site what role they played in Sikh separatism, if any. I responded to your points about Bhutto / ISI betraying Sikhs. I didnt even realise there was a Pakistani involvement until a couple of years ago. Don't go below the belt by trying to shut me up by labeling me as pro-Indian govt. That's pendu politics, and something I didn't expect from you.

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