There have been many confessions since 1971. First came Gen Manekshaw’s confession that 80,000 Hindus were trained and sent into East Pakistan to carry out sabotage, mayhem and rape in East Pakistan and malign the Pakistani Army and scare the common Bengalis.
Other Bharati Generals have also admitted to sending hooligans and terrorists into East Pakistan in 1970. In October 2012 General Brar was attacked by Khalistanis who wanted revenge against him for attacking and destroying the Golden Temple.
In casual conversation he admitted to a lot of Bharati support for terrorists. General Brar was explaining his relationship with his trainer in the Army. While talking about his nemesis that he killed in cold blood inside the Golden Temple,
So, if you were to go back and conduct that operation again, first of all, would you still do it or would you think again?
I would still do it but I would refine it.
How would you refine it?
I would try some different tactics, of trying to get in over a period of time, sneak in some people.
As you sneaked into Bangaldesh in lungis before the war had started
Exactly, sneak in some people—Sikhs—mingle with them, get all the information about them. At the same time, sneak in some guys from the Intelligence. Speak to the Shiromani Akali Dal and SGPC and try and make them understand that it’s no use.
Gen Brar also claimed that his former ally had been training the terror group Mukti Bahni
Describe the scene that night. White marble parikrama, a moonlit night, your initial commando charge in black dungarees. Bhindranwale’s forces, not just amateurs, led by a fellow…
…General Shabeg Singh.
A fellow officer from your ‘71 war vintage.
Not only that, he was my instructor in the academy, I was his cadet. Then in the ’71 war, we both linked up when we were going into Dhaka. So we fought the ’71 war together.
You were commanding the 1st Marathas, which entered Dhaka ahead of others.
That’s right and he was with the Mukti Bahini. And when I did go around outside the Golden Temple to have a look and carry out a reconnaissance, later on, those who surrendered and those who were captured, they told me that General Shabeg Singh had told Bhindranwale, “I know who that guy is. He is General Brar. We fought together in the ’71 war. He is a Jat Sikh. He is not going to let us have an easy battle. We have a tough time ahead of us.”
But he did a masterful tactical job of creating what you soldiers call a killing ground in front of the Akal Takht, on that marble.
That was masterly. He got a lot of us.
He covered with automatics from all sides, including machine guns.
He made it almost impossible for us to enter the Akal Takht. We suffered a lot of casualties.
Once you entered, he made it impossible for you to exit and take the casualties out.
Exactly. And we couldn’t delay it. We had to finish this before dawn, before first light, as we call it. Because, if we hadn’t finished it before dawn, the news would have travelled to the hinterlands. By 8 or 9 in the morning, we would have had thousands of Sikhs with spears and guns and all, heading to the Golden Temple and surrounding us.
At which point did you decide to bring the heavy stuff, the tanks and the guns?
When we couldn’t physically enter the Akal Takht and time was running short. We couldn’t afford for it to be daylight. We couldn’t afford a situation where the Army has been surrounded outside.
Were you surprised at the kind of resistance you faced? Did you underestimate them?
I won’t say we underestimated them but the information given to us indicated that there were not so many people and that they didn’t have the type of weapons that they should. Intelligence was lacking. And you may say underestimate, but they fought well. They fought like lions. It’s only when Bhindranwale died that there was a mass exodus out. People were rushing out and General Sundarji said to me, “Bulbul, what is happening?” I said, “Sir, they are all rushing out.” So he says, “There can be only two things in this. Either he has escaped or he’s dead and therefore the leader has gone. And without his inspiration, they are going to give up the fight.” And of course, I got the news that he is dead and we got his body. That evening, I got a call from the Information and Broadcasting Minister in Dehi, H K L Bhagat, who says to me, “General, we have news that Bhindranwale escaped that night.”
You mean the government in Delhi thought he had escaped?
Yes, and that he is in Pakistan and they are going to show him on the 30th of June on television. So I said, “I’m very surprised, sir, because I know he is dead. We’ve seen his body, his disciples have touched his feet. The police have identified him. We are handing over his body to his relatives. So, how has he escaped?” To make matters worse, the next day a hawk came and sat on the tree outside the Golden Temple and hundreds of people came rushing in there and they said Bhindranwale’s spirit has come to tell us that I’m alive. Now this caused a little more commotion that he is alive and that his spirit has come. So it was very disturbing. Even I must admit that on the 30th of June, I watched…
Message to fellow Sikhs?
My message to fellow Sikhs is, too much blood has flown. Now we need to heal our wounds. Don’t revive those wounds. Try and realise that there has to be unity between the Sikhs and the Hindus and everyone else. There is no point in the younger generation, who have not seen that period, now being reminded of it. It’s just like adding fuel to the fire. All that’s happening is, some of these pro-Khalistani groups operating abroad and in Punjab are propagating their views and indoctrinating the youth to the ideology which leads to the ensuing type of violence and mayhem, as happened in the early 80s.