on 14 July 2014
This book was first published in 1985(2006), has 225 pages, 15 chapters, 22 faded B/W photos, 1 map of Punjab and endpaper maps of the Golden Temple Complex. SIR WILLIAM MARK TULLY, KBE, was born in 1935 in Tolly Gunge, Calcutta, British India. Aged 4, he was sent to 'British Boarding School' in Darjeeling. Aged 9, he was sent to England for further schooling. He attended Trinity College, Cambridge studying theology. He joined the BBC in 1964 and moved to India in 1965 as BBC India correspondent. He resigned from the BBC in 1994 and has been working as freelance journalist and broadcaster in New Delhi. He speaks good Hindi. He received OBE in 1985 and 'Padma Shri' in 1992. He was knighted in 2002 and in 2005 was awarded 'Padma Bhushan'. He is now retired and lives in New Delhi. In this book, Mark Tully and Satish Jacob describe the storming of the Sikh's most sacred shrine - The Golden Temple and The Akal Takht, on 5.6.1984. On 31.10.1984, Mrs Indira Gandhi was assassinated.
The book starts as Mrs Gandhi returns to Delhi after her 2 grandchildren had been in a car accident. She was concerned that they might have been attacked by angry Sikhs. On 31.10.1984, she was shot by her 2 silk police officers, who were her body guards. Mrs Gandhi was taken to hospital in a car, but she was clinically dead with more than 20 bullet wounds. Anti-Sikh riots broke out in India. The police stood and watched only. About 2717 Sikhs were killed and 50,000 fled to Punjab. The Army was called in.
The Akali dal (2% Sikhs) sensed a threat to their identity and fear of Hinduism (80%). Not all Sikhs are Akalis. Mrs Gandhi had been brought into power in 1966. A list of grievances were put to the Central Government. After murder of 3 prominent people, Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was arrested on 20.9 1981. This followed by violence and more murders. He was released. The Sant was seen as a hero. Mrs Gandhi tried to negotiate with the Akali Dal demands at the Parliament House. Bhindranwale drove through Delhi with his supporters brandishing automatic weapons. More violence followed and hatred was created between Sikhs and Hindus. Bhindranwale moved to the hostel complex of the Golden temple. More demonstrations followed and threats were made to the Asian Games.
Sikh ex-service men were asked to join in the struggle including Major General Shahbeg Singh, who became the military adviser to Bhindranwale. They planned armed uprising and threw bombs and robbed banks and murder the police. It was said that the rest house where Bhindranwale was hiding, was not part of the Golden Temple Complex. Then 2 senior police officers were murdered. On 5.10.1983, some Sikhs hijacked a bus travelling from Amritsar to Delhi and shot 7 Hindus. Next day, Mrs Gandhi imposed Central Government rule (President's Rule) in Punjab and paramilitary police marched through Amritsar. Bhindranwale moved into Akal Takht.
Violence continued against GURU's teachings, that all men were equal, no matter what was their caste or religion. Shooting broke out between Central police and Bhindranwale's men. This lead to hostility between Central Reserve Police (CRP) and the Punjab police. The President's rule had failed. Bhindranwale's men started fortifying parts of the Golden temple. On 10.3.1984, Mark Tully and Satish Jacob were allowed to interview Bhindranwale, who had followers in every department of Government in Punjab. Hindus started fleeing Punjab.
Last ditch negotiations failed, so the CRP (Bihar Regiment) on 2nd June, surrounded the Golden Temple. Mrs Gandhi did not want to seize the Temple because of her fear of uprising in the countryside. A strict curfew was imposed by the Army. On 5th June, Army tanks moved to the Golden Temple Complex. Operation Blue Star had started. Heavy battle ensue. Orders were not to fire at the Golden Temple or Akal Takht. However, as the battle progressed and the Army took heavy toll, the tanks were sent in to blast the front of the Akal Takht. 300 bullet holes were found on the Golden Temple. On 6th, the library was burnt out loosing hand written manuscripts of Guru Granth Sahib by the GURU's. Bhindranwale's body was found in the rubble and he was cremated on 7th June. By the end of September 1984, the outside of the Shrine was repaired.
This is a very well written and detailed account of a very sad and sorry saga in the Sikh history.
Some other books by Mark Tully are:-
(1) Raj to Rajiv-40 years of Indian Independence, 1987
(2) No Full Stops in India (The defeat of a Congressman), 1988
(3) The Heart of India, 1995
(4) India in Slow Motion, 2002
(5) India's Unending Journey, 2008
(6) The Road Ahead (Non-stop India), 2011
Having born in Kenya, I found this book interesting.
on 6 February 2013
I found this book great. Most books about operation bluestar are about the operation itself. This book gives a very detailed account of the mistakes made by leaders of Congress, Akali Dal, Bhindranwale and Punjab Police that led to the army action. It shows how all these three parties could have avoided the eventual bloodshed, but they were all selfish or misguided. The book takes a neutral approach to the whole issue. Because its nothing to do with England themselves, so their BBC man Mark Tully comes across as impartial, if this whole issue had anything to do with England either directly or indirectly I wouldn't have trusted him. A good read for people who either blindly support Indira Gandhi or blindly support Bhindranwale or for that matter support the Akali Dal leaders. The blame for the tragedy lies with all parties including to a very small extent with the army also.