Explainer: Who is Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, the man who necessitated Operation Blue Star
Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale born Jarnail Singh Brar is a controversial name in the history of India. It was his presence along with armed supporters inside the Golden Temple which necessitated Operation Blue Star.
Born on June 2 1947, Bindranwale was gunned down in Operation Blue Star on June 6 1984.
Bhindranwale was born in the village of Rode, in Moga District located in the region of Malwa. The grandson of Sardar Harnam Singh Brar, his father, Joginder Singh Brar was a farmer and a local Sikh leader, and his mother was Nihal Kaur.
Jarnail Singh was the seventh of seven brothers and one sister. He was brought up as a strict vegetarian.
In 1965, he was enrolled by his father at the Damdami Taksal, a religious school, near Moga, Punjab, then headed by Gurbachan Singh Khalsa. After a one-year course in Sikh studies he returned to farming again. He continued his studies under Kartar Singh, who was the new head of the Taksal. He quickly became the favourite student of Kartar Singh.
Kartar Singh was fatally injured in a car accident and nominated Bhindranwale as his successor, in preference to his son Amrik Singh. Amrik Singh later became a close associate of Bhindranwale. He married Pritam Kaur and the couple had two sons, Ishar Singh and Inderjit Singh, in. Pritam Kaur died of heart ailment at age 60, on 15 September 2007 in Jalandhar.
Rise to fame:
In Punjab, Bhindranwale went from village to village as a missionary and asked people to live according to the rules and tenets of Sikhism. He preached to disaffected young Sikhs, encouraging them to return to the path of Khalsa by giving up vices like pornography, adultery, drugs, alcohol and tobacco which had crept in. His focus on fighting for the Sikh cause appealed to many young Sikhs. Due to his religious background as a preacher and head of the most prestigious Sikh school of learning (Damdami Taksal), his followers formally called him Bhindranwale Mahapurkh, which meant "The Great Spiritual Man from Bhindran".
A Wikipedia entry states that the audio and video archives of his speeches would reveal a very common saying of his- "Sikh ik vakhri qaum hai" (or, "Sikhism is a distinct nation") and he never was reported to have demanded a nation-state but Bhindranwale is widely perceived to be a supporter of the creation of a Sikh majority state of Khalistan.
Bhindranwale stated his position on Khalistan during numerous interviews with domestic and foreign journalists as well as during multiple public speeches. His statements indicate that he was supportive of remaining "in Hindustan [India]" provided that Sikhs were given rights as "equal citizens" of the country.
During the days before the assault, government representatives met with Bhindranwale in a last ditch effort to negotiate a truce. Bhindranwale warned of a backlash by the Sikh community in the event of an army assault on the Golden Temple and repeatedly stated "I don't want Khalistan but they would give Khalistan on a platter" while meeting with moderators.
Bhindranwale was accused by Indian authorities and critics for being responsible for several crimes and acts of terrorism including murdering and inciting hatred toward innocent Hindus, bank robbery, home invasion, organizing terrorist training camps, and stockpiling weapons. However, his supporters point to the lack of evidence against him as well as various audio and video recordings where Sant Bhindranwale is seen and heard condemning the acts of terror and denying the allegations.
In its' White Paper on Operation Blue Star, the Indian Government published statements made by Bhindranwale in an effort to illustrate his alleged intent to advocate the killing of Hindus in Punjab and to initiate a general exodus from the State for political purposes.
The fall of Bindranwale:
On 3 June 1984 Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi initiated Operation Blue Star and ordered the Indian Army to raid the Golden Temple complex to remove armed Sikhs militants from the complex. Bhindranwale was killed in the operation.
According to Lieutenant General Kuldip Singh Brar, who commanded the operation, the body of Bhindranwale was identified by a number of agencies, including the police, the Intelligence Bureau and militants in the Army's custody.
Bhindranwale's brother is also reported to have identified Bhindranwale's body.
People who maintain that he survived the operation include Dilbir Singh, the Public Relations Advisor at Guru Nanak Dev University. He stated that Bhindranwale was injured on the right side of his temple. He stated, "a government doctor verified he was captured alive. He was tortured to death.
R K Bajaj, a correspondent for Surya magazine, claimed to have seen a photograph of Bhindranwale in custody. This claim is strongly contested, especially by Bhindranwale's son who has now become a prominent figure within Sikh politics. Some within the Damdami Taksal claimed he is still alive and well. Thus he is supposed to come back and reactivate the fight for freedom from Indian oppression and finish the Dharam Yudh Morcha.