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Updated: October 3, 2012 09:25 IST

NDA withdrew security for Blue Star commander

Praveen Swami
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General A.S. Vaidya, Chief of the Army Staff, flanked by Lt. General K. Sundarji (left) and Major General K.S. Brar, outside Shri Harmandir Sahib at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on June 19, 1984, after Operation Blue Star.
The Hindu Archives
General A.S. Vaidya, Chief of the Army Staff, flanked by Lt. General K. Sundarji (left) and Major General K.S. Brar, outside Shri Harmandir Sahib at the Golden Temple in Amritsar on June 19, 1984, after Operation Blue Star.

Attempt on Brar raises fear over safety of officials involved in the 1984 military action

The National Democratic Alliance government lifted the security cover for a key commander involved in Operation Blue Star, the Army’s 1984 campaign to flush out terrorists from the Golden Temple in Amritsar, highly placed government sources have told The Hindu.

Brigadier Israr Rahim Khan, among the most visible public faces of the operation, was asked to vacate a protected residence in 2004, after intelligence services concluded that there was no threat to his safety, the sources said. Then a Lieutenant-Colonel, he commanded the 10 Guards, sealed off the complex and secured the lines of attack to the sanctum sanctorum, the Akal Takht.

Lieutenant-General K.S. Brar, Brigadier Khan’s commander, was knifed by suspected Khalistan operatives in London on Sunday night. The assault renewed the debate on the security for personnel connected to counter-terrorism operations in Punjab.

Brigadier Khan was housed in Delhi’s cantonment until early 2004, several years after his retirement, based on intelligence assessments. But the Defence Ministry asked him to vacate, saying the premises was needed to house serving officers. He then moved the Delhi High Court, arguing that he enjoyed the ‘Z’ category protection. The Home Ministry then withdrew the threat assessment, on which his protection was based.

“I’m a soldier, and I’m not given to panic,” Brigadier Khan told The Hindu, “but, no doubt, what happened in London is a source of concern.”

Home Ministry officials contacted by The Hindu said they were not immediately aware of the circumstances under which security for Brigadier Khan was lifted.

Highly placed military sources said several key figures involved in Operation Blue Star did not receive security, among them the special forces commanders charged with clearing terrorists from the Akal Takht, Colonel K.C. Padha and M.P. Choudhary.

Intelligence officials told The Hindu that the decision to provide security was based on the ongoing threat appraisals. “There were periodic warnings about threats to General Brar,” a senior officer said, “which is why he received protection. The truth facing a potential threat can’t be guarded.”

General Arun Sridhar Vaidya, Chief of the Army Staff at the time of Operation Blue Star, was assassinated in Pune in August 1986. He was shot while driving home from a market by assailants on a motorcycle; a single bodyguard in the car suffered four bullet injuries. His assassins, Harjinder Singh Jinda and Sukhdev Singh Sukha, were hanged in the Pune central jail in 1992. The two have since been controversially hailed as martyrs by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, as well as by some Sikh politicians of the religious right.

Lt. General Krishnaswami Sundarji, who was General Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Western Commandduring the operation and went on to become one of India’s best-known soldiers, died of natural causes in 1999. His Chief Staff Officer at the time of the operation, Lt.-General Ranjit Singh Dayal, also died of natural causes earlier this year.

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The NDA will take a partisan position merely to oppose what the Congress does. It is high time that politics is played at a higher level. Surely, the NDA cannot deny that the Golden Temple was occupied by Bhindranwalle and his gang of terrorists. There was a security issue that required a military solution and the Brave Commanders performed their task admirably. It is also clear that some radical Sikhs have made these Army officers a target for assasination. The fact that the NDA played such petty politics at their expense is quite shocking. India deserves all major parties to speak with the same voice on national issues

from:  gita
Posted on: Oct 3, 2012 at 20:47 IST

This is the problem ailing our bureaucracy and the government of the day, instead of concentrating on damage control and future protection measures what they would do is immediately try and find reasons to shift the blame on the previous government. What if the threat perception was assessed and then the decision was taken? Just for the sake of shifting the blame just throw the gauntlet of accusation on the previous government. Very un-professional and self-saving.

from:  Rahul
Posted on: Oct 3, 2012 at 15:02 IST

What a poor example of Journalism..!! An article should never be one
sided, if NDA has Revoked the security then they might have had some
reasons , May be they were confident about the Intelligence and the
Hindu should have asked what ppl are asking.. What stopped UPA Government to provide it again ? its been more than 8 years now ..!! A news paper should ask these questions rather than just giving just one side information !
We do not expect The Hindu to behave like NDTV ( Hope you guys don't
share the same Base of interest ))

from:  Ganesh
Posted on: Oct 3, 2012 at 14:08 IST

We can't say whether it was security assessment by NDA home ministry or
shiromani Akalidal wanted this as elections were approaching in 2004. Well,
interesting revelation by the Hindu!

from:  Wikrant Kumar Sharma
Posted on: Oct 3, 2012 at 08:49 IST

What a naive argument from Government, if NDA removes the security under
its regime, who stopped present government from restoring that security
immediately after its return to power???

from:  Pradeep
Posted on: Oct 3, 2012 at 08:14 IST

The attack definitely poses a concern and govt. should think to support in better way
to provide security to our personel who involved in such important missions. It could
be an indication of roots of terrorism alive in this regard.

from:  Narasimha Rao
Posted on: Oct 3, 2012 at 07:05 IST

why so much importance for this . Because it was done by NDA . ? So many decisions
are taken by Government Depts. and so long as no malafide no need to worry

from:  ganesanr
Posted on: Oct 3, 2012 at 06:54 IST

Although the 'Blue star' incident is a blot on India's secular identity
and it seriously hurt the Sikh community, it perhaps saved this
country from disintegration. If Khalistan supporters had succeeded, the
separatist in other parts of the country would have also challenged the
power of the Indian government and succeeded.Today we would have 27 +
countries out of India like it happend in USSR. Let us thank these brave
soldiers from all communities including the Sikhs, who fought gallantly
to save the country.

from:  P.Tauro
Posted on: Oct 3, 2012 at 06:52 IST
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