1984 AS I SAW-PART I Dr Dalvinder Singh Grewal It was 3 June1984. I was posted as General staff Officer of a brigade and was also performing the duties of Camp Commandant in Madhya Pradesh. Around ten AM we got the news of attack on Sri Harmandar Sahib. It made me shell shocked. Seeing me tense my CO asked me the reason. “Sri Harmandar Sahib has been attacked by Army”, words wriggled out of my throat with difficulty. “It is very serious. It is not the time to mourn; go and solace the troops otherwise the things will go out of control. You must keep them informed. Planted information is better than no information or heresy,” He said. We had some Sikh troops as well. I expected them to be as hurt as I was. Seeing me still in a pensive mood, he said, “Go and tell them that no damage will be done to Sri Harmandir Sahib. Army Chief has promised this. It is only flushing out of terrorists.” I gathered my troops and told them what was told to me. They understood that I was revealing less hiding more as I could not give details they wanted. As AIR was not giving clear news; I tuned to BBC. The news gave me after shocks. Next three days were too tough on me and my family. Over and above I had to control the troops since the news was pouring in that Sikh soldiers were deserting their barracks and rushing towards Sri Harmandir Sahib. The worst happened at Ranch Sikh Regimental Centre. Centre Commandant Brig Puri has been killed as he tried to hold them. They went unorganized, they headed north whatever way they could exit; they got into the transport whatever they got; they picked the weapon whatever they could pick up from the centre armoury. En route they had to face troops and police; some were killed in encounters; some were arrested; only a few could survive. News came that some of them would come our way as well. Sikh families were sympathetic. They knew why they did this. They too would have done the same if they could. They arranged some shelters at hide outs away from the Army and wanted to keep them to ensure their safety if at all they came there. None of them however could reach us. On Sixth June, our GOC held a party in which all officers were required to attend. With a heavy heart we attended the function. Finding all the Sikh officers sullen, the General addressed: “See gentlemen! We had no other way out. The terrorists have been eliminated from Sri Harmandir Sahib and no damage has done to the sanctum santorum.” Nobody believed him as BBC has been telling differently”. He said, “Well! Some of you can go and see for yourself.” Next day I was one of them who were permitted to go to Amritsar to see the things for myself. On 7th June, I left early and reached Patiala by evening. The checking of Sikhs was so intense and insulting that I cursed myself for taking the risk. I was not spared from humiliating checks even when I was in uniform. In Patiala I stayed with my brother, who told me what all had happened in Punjab. “The surveillance was so intense that the army helicopter hovered around 24 hours. Anyone seen taking out head out of his window was warned; anyone coming out in the street was shot at. Electricity and water connections were cut. The children cried for water and milk. The aged were crying for medicines but there was none to help. He took me to Gurdwara Dukh Niwaran Sahib and showed me the wheel marks of tanks in Gurdwara premises. He told how number of Sikh elders, young, women and children fell to the bullets and were put to pyre together. He showed me large number of iron bracelets of those who were put to flames. My heart was bleeding at hearing this. More details can be read in my separate article. My next stop was at Amritsar. On 8th President of India Gyani Zail Singh visited Sri Harmandir Sahib. Even he had to face sniper bullets. He had left by the time I could enter the precincts of Sri Harmandir Sahib. I found a Sikh army captain from engineers who had a task to clean Harmandar Sahib. I requested him to give me a lift to Sri Harmandari Sahib. As I told him the purpose of my visit, he agreed to explain the things on ground. He told me the place where Army 3.7” and 75/24 guns were placed to hit the overhead water tank in Guru Ram Das Sarai and Akal Takhat. He also showed me the route of entry of tanks into Sri Harmandir Sahib complex. As we entered from Guru Ram Das Sarai, I was told that the deaths of the Sikhs staying in Ramdas sarai were colossal. They were killed without any reason. Possibly it was vendetta killing initiated by government propaganda. The area still gave very bad smell; even smell of flesh. The steps of gate at the entry of Sri Harmandir Sahib could be seen broken with the help of tanks. He took me to a bunga near Brahm Buta and showed me some parts of animal feed cutting machines which were depicted as MMGs and BMGs while propagating these as the weapons of militants. He also showed me the underground bunkers dug in the premises wherefrom they halted two divisions of infantry. The small strength of motivated followers of Sant Bhindrawalla trained by General Shabeg Singh held on two divisions ( 9 & 15 Infantry divisions) of regular Army for three days! It is more than a miracle. General Shabeg Singh was the same who had trained Mukti Bahini for liberating bangle Desh. He was however later court-martialed and dismissed on frivolous charges. Like him two other generals who entered Dacca first were also court-martialed and dismissed on cooked up charges. General Arora was the key person to lead Indian army to liberate Bangla Desh. He got neither praise nor higher post just because Manikshaw wanted to build his prop General Jacob who was no match to Arora, Shabegh Singh or General Kaler, the generals who entered Dacca first. I happened to watch the miraculous deeds of Arora, Shabegh Singh and General Kaler during 1971 war from very close and appreciated their skill, strategy and metal. Later when I watched their court-martials, it pained me a lot. How low we stoop to give preferences to our chosen ones by lowering and even dooming others. Possibly it was this reason that General Shabegh stood with Sant Bhindranwala. As I entered the Gate from SGPC office side; I saw the wheel marks of the tanks on the marble. The broken steps showed the ruthlessness. One of the tanks had even stuck as the marble gave away. As I look ahead towards Sri Harmandar Sahab, Deodi and Akal Takhtat, I got the biggest shock of my life. It was devastating! Akal Takhat and deodi were in total ruins. The tanks and guns had made these as ‘kholas’. I had read of Massa Ranghar having destroyed Sri Harmandir Sahib but I do not think this destruction could have been this much. He was a foreigner; but here this all was done by own countrymen. He was a staunch Muslim but here this was done by the propagators of secularism! This was no doubt to teach Sikhs a lesson for all the ages to come. As I moved in parikarma, I found smell of blood and flesh still emanating from sarovar and parikarma. The officer told me that he had seen the entire parikarma full of dead bodies. Even there were many dead bodies floating in sarovar. These were however cleared by the Army with the help of municipality personnel. As I came close to Library; I could see the ashes spread around. It appeared that Library had been burnt along with its books. In a separate article ‘what happened to various manuscripts’ is given out. Passing by the Akal Takhat and through the Deodi, I struggled through the deadly mental agony. As I saw Sri Harimandir Sahib it had bullet marks all over. Though Sri Harmandir sahib was cleaned with milk and perfumes were spread all over but the bad smell from around affected my nerves. I was shown the copy of Sri Guru Granth Sahib on which the granthi was performing path when hit by bullet. He died and marks of his hand soaked blood could be seen on the Bir. The place where millions of people like me got solace and peace was now turned into a slaughter house. What an achievement of the Indian Government! With a heavy heart as I came out through the deserted streets to Hall bazaar ‘Sharma’s coaching institute’ where we used to have our good days of studies, the venom in the hearts of Hindu minds appeared to have been built that it showed that the two communities have fallen polls apart. Very shameful rumours were spread to denounce Sikhs in general. Since description of these stories is degrading I will not dwell on it. However the venom spread was too dangerous for Punjab. I returned to my home town Ludhiana feeling as if I was a man to be insulted by everyone, I did not have sleep whole night thinking over as to why this great tragedy occurred to Punjab only. My parents and friends too told very painful stories which could take pages. Next I went to Muktsar which too was attacked by the Army. The detailed account is given in a separate article.