Operation Bluestar left Vajpayee shocked

Bengaluru: “Not for me but Punjab needs healing therapy. The people of the sensitive border state are hurt. Their feelings need to be assuaged” was what A.B. Vajpayee,  then all India president of the Bharatiya Janata Party told me with his hands on my shoulders before boarding the flight to Delhi at Bengaluru’s HAL Airport on 6th June 1984. 

Atalji, as he is known to millions of his admirers, cut short his stay at Jindal Naturopathy Institute following  Operation Bluestar in the intervening night of June 4 and 5 and left for Delhi. I was fortunate to have been his Sahayak for six days at Jindal Institute.

“Hemantha, Punjab is burning. That state is on the brink of a precipice. It looks like  we are sitting on the mouth of a volcano,” he said in response to my question about Punjab, while we were strolling around the lake in Jindal Institute on 28th May 1984. Atalji was at Jindal for  a rejuvenation session.

I used to coordinate his tele-conversation from Jindal Naturopathy Institute’s reception with top BJP leaders like Advaniji, Krishanlal Sharma and Dr Baldev Prakash. 

Shock and disbelief were large writ on his face when Mr Advani replied to Atalji’s question on the casualties the Army suffered.  Atalji was on the phone from 1.25 am to 4.55 am on the intervening night of June 4th and 5th and was busy getting inputs from various sources.

As I took him back to his suite, I could see tears rolling down his eyes. He leaned on my shoulders as he walked from the reception to his suite a distance of about 250 metres. 

“The decision to send the Army inside the Golden Temple will have catastrophic consequences. It does not bode well for the country,” Atalji, said and continued, “but there was no option, either. The action (to send the Army into the Golden Temple) was unavoidable but the situation (mobilisation of terrorists inside Golden Temple) was avoidable.”

Atalji asked me to write down these sentences on a piece of paper and give it to him. It formed the crux of the BJP’s statement that was issued the next day after Atalji reached Delhi. He proved to be prophetic going by the subsequent events in Punjab.

(The writer, S.A. Hemanth Kumar is a senior journalist)

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