Indira bypassed Army Chief: Gen Jamwal

Date: 06 Jun 2008


Indira bypassed Army Chief: Gen Jamwal
Sant Longowal, Tohra were saved on 'personal request'
Varinder Walia/Ashok Sethi
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, June 5
Major- General J.S.Jamwal , then GOC, 15 Infantry Division, who was 
instrumental in rescuing Sant Harchand Singh Longowal and Jathedar 
Gurcharan Singh Tohra , then presidents of the Shiromani Akali Dal 
and the SGPC, respectively, on their "personal request" amidst 
Operation Bluestar has alleged the Army operation was not only 
"ill-advised" but "ill-conceived" by the powers that be.

Giving an account of the Army operation ; opposition by some saner 
Army officers ,who had perceived better alternative by avoiding 
collateral damage to Akal Takht and its ramifications, Gen Jamwal 
today claimed here the former Prime Minister late Indira Gandhi had 
bypassed the then army chief and called the Western Army Commander 
Gen Sundarji to direct him to take immediate steps to clear the holy 
shrine of the militants hiding there.

Gen Jamwal said Akali leaders late Jathedar Tohra and late Sant 
Longowal were taken to cantonment here through heavy security cordon 
inspite of firing from militants. They were given proper 
accommodation in the cantonment before they were shifted to jail.

Gen Jamwal said he was the Garrison Commander at Amritsar at that 
time but his views were also not sought and added there were other 
better alternatives, including cutting of water, power and food 
supply to flush out Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his firebrand 
followers who had taken refuge in the building of Akal Takht. Such 
visionary step could have saved many precious lives besides saving 
the sanctity of the holy shrine. He said Army commanders supervising 
the operations got panicky due to initial heavy casualties of 
commandos in the Golden Temple complex.

He said the entire tactical planning was fraught with dangerous 
repercussions which were aimed at dividing the countrymen. The nation 
paid a very heavy price and has yet to recover from trauma.

Making a revelation the General said Pakistan was queering the pitch 
during the fateful operation and was trying to make noises on radio 
sets and television about "fake movement of troops" in a bid to 
frighten the Indian Army which was waging a war against the holed up 
militants. He said he was in charge of the security of the borders 
and said they were prepared to meet any eventuality (attack) from 
across the border.

The General said he played a key role in restoring the glory of 
Harmandar Sahib and revealed two senior Army officers paid a heavy 
price for stealing some precious items from the sanctum sanctorum of 
the Golden Temple. He said he ordered all those items taken away by 
the troops of a particular battalion as souvenirs were returned to 
the SGPC management and at least two senior officers were 
chargesheeted for such misdeeds.

(To be concluded)