As I am now in the Amsterdam Guru Nanak Gurdwara and am not rushing from one meeting to the other, I have time to write a Man in Blue Column about the ‘assault’ on Lieutenant General (retired) Kuldip Singh Brar.
In writing this I have put myself in the position of one of the accused and assumed that this person was both guilty and intelligent.
“I stand here accused of assaulting lieutenant general (retired) Kuldip Singh Brar and I admit that I am guilty and should undergo the appropriate punishment.
This statement explains why I assaulted an old man on holiday in the UK. It is not a plea for clemency, which would be unworthy for a Sikh.
In June 1984 the general was ordered by the Indira Gandhi government to attack the Harmandr Sahib complex. I do not know the specifics of his order but the explanation given at the time was that there were about 50 terrorists in the complex. Whether his orders were to eliminate these terrorists, or whether he had to try and arrest them and bring them to justice I do not know.
The known fact is that the Harmandr Sahib complex was attacked on the day when many Sikhs went there from the early morning to commemorate the martyrdom of Guru Arjan on the 30th of May 1606. The result was that at least 1000 people were killed and not just the 50 alleged terrorists.
I am willing to concede that there were not 50 but maybe up to 100 alleged terrorists in the Harmandr Sahib complex. I also understand that during an operation on this scale some civilians are bound to find themselves in the line of fire, and become what are sometimes called collateral victims.
But the general and his men killed at least one thousand people during the operation, and he was never held responsible for killing 900 innocent visitors to Harmandr Sahib on the 6th of June 1984.
The general said that he acted on orders, but if you carry out criminal orders you are a criminal yourself, as the post World War II Nurnberg trials made clear.
The general is guilty of ‘war crimes’, but he never appeared in court. The Indira Gandhi government ordered the general to commit ‘war crimes’ and did not appear in court either.
Those that were responsible for the mass killings of Sikhs at the end of October and beginning of November 1984 are still walking free, and some of these are even part of the present Indian government, which has a Sikh prime minister.
But I will be tried and receive my due punishment, as I should.“
A statement like this would make headlines. But will these assaulters of the retired lieutenant general be mice or men ? Will they be ruled by anger or by wisdom ?