'Father didn't kill Indira Gandhi to make Sikhs happy'

'Father didn't kill Indira Gandhi to make Sikhs happy'

"My father had killed Indira Gandhi neither at the behest of any organisation nor to make any Sikh 'jathebandi' (group) happy. This extreme step was the outcome of intense feelings that carried away my father, and under the circumstances we all respect his feelings," Sarabjeet Singh Khalsa, the 30-year-old son of Beant Singh, said.

Sarabjeet was all of five years old when on Oct 31, 1984, his father and Satwant Singh - both Sikh bodyguards of Indira Gandhi - killed one of the most powerful prime ministers this country has seen.

Sarabjeet added: "Papaji and his colleague Satwant Singh had gone to Harmandar Sahib to pay obeisance after the Blue Star incident. On learning the exact motive of the attack, the way in which it was actually executed and on seeing the devastation of the place and plight of Sikhs, both of them decided to assassinate Indira Gandhi on their own."

Beant Singh, who put down his weapon after committing the crime and was nabbed by other security personnel, was killed just minutes later after he tried to "escape" from custody. Satwant Singh faced the gallows in 1989 after a trial.

While Beant, who was in his late 20s at that time, belonged to Maloya village in Chandigarh, young Satwant hailed from Agwan village in the then terrorist-infested border belt of Dera Baba Nanak near Amritsar in Punjab.

The families of both assassins were feted by radical Sikh organisations after the incident and Beant Singh's wife, Bimal Kaur Khalsa, was even elected to the Lok Sabha from the Ropar parliamentary constituency. She died a few years later.

Sarabjeet, who has unsuccessfully tried to get elected to the Lok Sabha, is now engaged in the real estate business. He lives with his wife and son and operates from Mohali town, adjoining state capital Chandigarh.

"Papaji had done it without any expectation from anywhere, so there was no question of help or support from any one. If we talk about justice for the 1984 Sikh massacre, then it was the duty of our Sikh leaders to make sure that justice was done, but unfortunately nothing substantial happened," Sarabjeet said.

"I have plans to actively join politics but right now I have taken a break from it for some time as at present I am trying to establish my real estate business in Punjab and very soon I will make a comeback," said Sarabjeet.

"Sometimes I feel very sad that my father sacrificed his life for the sake of a whole community, but now we have again gone wayward. The Akali Dal, which plays a very dominant role in Punjab and in the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), does not care for our rights and well-being.

"We know that we cannot expect anything from the Congress government, but unfortunately, the Parkash Singh Badal-led Akali government is also not doing anything for the 1984 anti-Sikh riot victims. They play petty politics and only try to extract political mileage out of that incident."

Indira Gandhi's assassination was the direct consequence of Operation Bluestar, which was done in June 1984 by the Indian Army on her directions. Military officials attacked Harmandar Sahib, popularly known as the Golden Temple in Amritsar, where militants were hiding with heavy ammunition.

According to  figures of the Indian Army, Operation Bluestar left nearly 600 people, including army personnel, militants and civilians dead. However, many believe the correct figure of the killings is in thousands.

About the attack on Harmandar Sahib, Sarabjeet firmly believes: "It was entirely a wrong decision by Indira Gandhi to order an attack on Harmandar Sahib, our holiest shrine. It was an unpardonable crime and no true Sikh can tolerate it even in his nightmare."

The Amritsar-based Akal Takht - highest temporal seat of Sikhism - had declared Beant Singh and Satwant Singh as martyrs of Sikhism in 2008.