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New Delhi: Lt Gen (retd) Kuldeep Singh Brar, who played a key role in the Indian Army's Operation Blue Star, has said that the Khalistani movement is resurging in Punjab and neighbouring Pakistan has been supporting it.
Lt Gen Brar is a veteran of the 1971 India-Pakistan war and the Liberation of Bangladesh. He was also the commanding officer of Operation Blue Star and remains on the hitlist of Khalistani terrorists. He survived an attempt on his life 10 years ago in London. In ANI Podcast with Smita Prakash, Lt Gen Brar spoke at length about the rise of the Khalistani movement in Punjab.
"Things were very bad in Punjab in the 1980s. There was no law and order at all. The police had become a defunct force. There was a saint who arose from a village. He had such a charismatic personality that everyone accepted him like an 11th Guru called Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. He lived in a village called Rode but he went around giving his sermons. And at that stage slowly and steadily the state of Punjab started crumbling and Bhindranwale was an all powerful man. There were murders, smuggling, and banks being looted," said Lt Gen Brar.
He said the law and order completely broke down during the time and it was Bhindranwale who had all the say.
"A DIG was killed and thrown out of Golden Temple. Police were even afraid to take any action against him. Because Bhindranwale had become like Frankenstein," Brar said.
At the beginning of 1984, Lt Gen Brar said that the feeling was so strong during the time that they were going to declare Khalistan a separate country.
He also attributed unemployment among the youth as one of the major causes behind the movement.
"Then the movement started building up about Khalistan. At that time unemployment was high in Punjab. The youth were without jobs. Youths used to roam around with pistols in their motorcycles. There were also mini gangsters. Bhindranwale had full control of the state," Lt Gen Brar said.
Asked about the revival of the Khalistani movement, he said, "It is horrible. I go to the UK, I go to Southall...I see Bhindranwale's picture everywhere. What happened to our diaspora who have gone abroad? Our Indian people have gone abroad. More pro-Khalistan and all."
On the current scenario of the Khalistani movement in Punjab, he said, "Yes there is a resurgence in Punjab of the movement. Pakistan is also assisting them. In London, Canada, America, and Pakistan all together they want a resurgence here."
Bhindranwale was the head of the Sikh religious sect Damdami Taksal. He was killed along with his armed followers during Operation Blue Star launched by the Indian Army at the Golden Temple complex.
The Indian Army carried out Operation Blue Star in 1984 between June 1 and June 8. Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, had ordered the military operation to flush out Sikh terrorists including Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, who were accumulating weapons inside the premises of the Golden Temple. (ANI)