Indira Gandhi knew her life was at risk when she decided to go for militarily storm the Golden Temple, President Pranab Mukherjee reveals in the second part of his memoirs released on Thursday. “The Turbulent Years, 1980-1996” (Rupa) says that “criminals, smugglers and anti-social elements” had joined the Khalistan movement and recalls that the Golden Temple had become a safe haven for them. –
The president writes that talks with the Akali Dal failed due to its rigid stance, and last ditch efforts were made shortly before “Operation Blue Star” – as the military operation was codenamed – was launched. “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. “P.V. Narasimha Rao, Cabinet Secretary Krishnaswamy Rao Sahib and I represented the government in that meeting. Unfortunately, the talks remained unsuccessful,” he says in the book released at the Rashtrapati Bhavan by Vice President M. Hamid Ansari.
“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.” The decision to storm the Golden Temple was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Political Affairs (CCPA) but no official was present at the meet, Mukherjee writes. Operation Blue Star was launched at the Golden Temple on June 3, 1984, with the army entering the premises. Mukherjee then writes how Gandhi told him she was aware of the threat to her life. “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.” Mukherjee defends the operation, calling the situation in Punjab at that time “abnormal”.
“It is easy to say that the military action could have been avoided. However, nobody really knows if any other option would have worked. Such decisions are always taken based on the conditions prevailing at that time.
The situation in Punjab was abnormal.” He adds that the “biggest tragedy” of the whole event was the “loss of Mrs Gandhi”. “Her last speech in Orissa, two days before her assassination, was prophetic. She said, ‘I am alive today, I may not be there tomorrow… I shall continue to serve until my last breath and when I die, I can say that every drop of my blood will invigorate India and strengthen it’.”
Gandhi was assassinated on October 31, 1984, at her Safdarjung Road residence in New Delhi by two of her bodyguards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh, in the aftermath of Operation Blue Star.
New Delhi: An hour-long special programme to celebrate the Army Day on 15 January and to honour the heroism of the Indian soldiers posted at the Siachen glacier will be premiered on television on 26 January.
Indian Army in action. AFPIndian Army in action. AFP
The show titled “Revealed: Siachen” will be aired on Discovery Channel.
“‘Revealed: Siachen’ is dedicated to every Indian soldier for their valour and sacrifice for the motherland. The programme will offer viewers first-hand testimonies from the soldiers who have been at the battlefront,” Rahul Johri, executive vice president and general manager – South Asia, Discovery Networks Asia Pacific, said in a statement.
The show will take viewers through the extreme frontline and the highest battleground in the world and what it takes to keep the Siachen glacier secure and peaceful.
The show will present chronicles of the soldiers and their challenges to manage the battlefield where temperatures often reach 60 degrees Celsius below the freezing point.
“Siachen glacier will always be one of the most compelling experiences for me and to my mind for all the Indian soldiers who have served tours of duty there,” said Col. Narendra Kumar, first surveyor of Siachen for the Indian Army.
Nobody is a fan of loose talk and I am no exception. What boils up every drop of blood in me are misinformed conversations that give birth to misinformed opinions.
I recently overheard two so-called ‘educated, suited-booted gentlemen’ discuss the Pathankot terrorist attacks that killed seven of our brave soldiers. In a matter-of-fact manner, they discussed how the slain soldiers’ families will get ‘mota paisa‘ (a big amount) as compensation.
“Hume bhi fauj mein hona chahiye tha, bhai (We should have also been in the army)” – the conversation ended with a smirk and a smouldering cigarette butt on the floor.
I should have reacted, given it back to those guys, but I stood there – completely numb. How and what could I possibly tell those men for whom the Army seemed to be just a four-letter word.
The year began on a tragic note for the nation. Waking up to the news of terrorists attacking the Pathankot Air Force station shattered me. What followed were innumerable attack theories, high-level government meetings, blame-game and questions being raised on the country’s security mesh – things that typically happen after an attack in our country.
My father served in the Indian Army for 32 glorious years. Growing up, I always had my set of complaints. He never made it to even one of my parent-teacher meets, never saw me participate in any sports event, never took me school book-shopping. I do not have a count of how many of my birthday parties he missed. Why did it have to be my mother holding my finger and seeing me off at the school gate? Back then, I detested his attitude towards me.
I could never understand why dad spent hours gazing at an already shining uniform laced with glistening medals. I could never understand him staring at every fold of the uniform, trying to look for imperfections and then scolding batman ‘bhaiya‘ (designated Army help for an officer) for not doing his job well.
I could never understand his anger over a microscopic layer of dust on his uniform.
I tried hard to understand what was so different between my school uniform and his Army uniform, but could never really find an answer. For me it was a dark green dress that dad wore to office.
My father had a major share of his postings in field areas. This would mean that we would live in separated families’ quarters and not see him for months.
I still remember that winter afternoon, that red sweater, and my father at the door. He was on a month-long break. I was on cloud nine, 30 days of dad not going to work, 30 days of family time, 30 days of not suddenly going to mock drills at odd hours.
Bearing my non-stop rant, dad paused and suddenly asked me what class I was studying in. With a gulp down my throat and a shock in my tone I said, ‘papa, class 6.’
There was an uneasy calm between the two of us. I was in disbelief to see my inexpressive, yet affectionate father hug me for a long time. That evening we went to eat ‘golgappas‘ and chicken soup on our tiny-puny scooty. Life felt real that evening.
I was in class 7 when the 1999 Kargil operation took place. Though posted in the North-East during Operation Vijay, he was intensively involved in the intelligence corps.
My mother and I were once again in separated quarters in Ambala cantonment (Haryana). For an entire year, visuals of bodies wrapped in the tricolour being carried in official vehicles, almost on an everyday basis, haunted me.
Screams of Army wives who lost their husbands still reverberate in my ears. Gun-salutes, a blanket of grief and an unspoken shared pain were a major part of our lives.
A year later, when dad came home, he had stories to tell me, stories of his ‘fauji experiences’. Something he had never done before. Maybe I was grown up to understand him, to make sense of his absence.
Episodes of young militants carrying AK-47s in milk containers, him getting frostbites in Kupwara district, being shot in the arm several times during combing operations – intrigued me. I could see the light in his eyes, the soaring passion which made me realise he wouldn’t trade any of this for all the glitter in the world.
He retired in September 2007. Sitting on the couch he said, “That uniform there, it is my pride and honour, a well-deserved fruit of 2 years of rigorous military training, a commitment to my nation. Something only I can understand. It was more than a job for me.”
I see that passion in every man in uniform. For me disrespect to that uniform is personal. Yes, I see my father in Late Lt. Col. Niranjan Kumar, in Garud Commando Gursevak Singh, in Subedar Fateh Singh, in every NSG commando, in every soldier.
Yes, it hurts when people casually comment on the free ration, the pension and the so-called perks that Army personnel get. Remember, most of them don’t live through their entire life to avail them.
One cannot expect every Indian to forcefully respect the forces, but remember– an officer dying in the line of duty cannot be fodder for a casual conversation – remember he had a family like you, aspirations like you, unluckily life didn’t give him another chance.
Larsen & Toubro, India’s largest infrastructure company, may bag an order worth $750 million (Rs 4,900 crore) to manufacture artillery guns for the Indian Army may cheer investors who hold the company’s stocks. L&T shares have shed nearly onefourth of their value — roughly Rs 25,000 crore — in the past three months due to […]
Beijing, Jan 11 (PTI) In a major military reform, Chinese President Xi Jinping today reorganised four army headquarters by replacing them with 15 new agencies under the Central Military Commission (CMC) headed by him, tightening his control over the world’s largest force. The new structure includes new commissions — discipline inspection, politics and law and […]
New Delhi, Jan 11 (PTI) The Indo-Pak Foreign Secretary- level talks appear to be unlikely this week with India taking the stand that Pakistan has to act on the leads given to it about the terror attack on the Pathankot air base. Sartaj Aziz, Foreign Policy Adviser to Pakistan Prime Minister, has said that the […]