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PUNJAB

Bluestar fallout was severe, says former Punjab DGP

Sunday 5 June 2005

``It would be incorrect to state that there was great support for Khalistan among the Sikhs"

BHOPAL: An assessment of the consequences of Operation Bluestar - launched on June 5, 1984 to flush out heavily-armed militants from the Golden Temple complex - reveals that what it achieved was limited but the fallout was severe, according to Punjab’s former DGP, Kirpal Dhillon. ``The deep resentment that it caused in the Sikh community greatly extended the support base of the extremist groups, leading to a massive intensification of insurgency in the post-Bluestar period. Bluestar and its aftermath also became an emotive issue with the entire community, whether residing within India or abroad,’’ the retired IPS officer said here.

``It would be incorrect to state that there was great support for Khalistan among the Sikhs. Even Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, the head of the Damdami Taksal, mentioned it only in passing. There was certainly no concerted, united, purposeful and meaningful movement,’’ Mr Dhillon feels.

He is on the verge of completing a book whose working title is "A Decade of Militancy and Violence: Punjab 1983-1992’’. The former cop has also authored "Police and Politics in India; Colonial Concepts, Democratic Compulsions: Indian Police 1947-2002’’.

Mr. Dhillon - who confronted the aftermath of Bluestar after he took charge as DGP, Punjab, on July 3, 1984 and visited the Harmandir Sahib the day after assuming his post - feels that the date chosen for launching the operation was improper as June 5 was the martyrdom anniversary of Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth guru of the Sikhs.

``Several pilgrims had gathered at the Golden Temple from across the country and, unfortunately, they comprised the bulk of the casualties. As per a rough estimate, only about 40 rebels were killed while the rest escaped,’’ he adds.

``When the Army is given a task they have to undertake it but if sufficient recce of the area had been done before the launch, neither would the casualties have been high nor would there have been a need to bring heavy armoury into the complex. An army action like Bluestar formulates its own operational mechanics that sometimes override the original format and that’s what probably happened with Bluestar,’’ he feels.- UNI

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