S. Simranjit Singh Mann
Simranjit Singh Mann served in the Indian Police Services for 17 years and was posted as Commandant CISF in Bombay when Operation Blue Star took place. Deeply shocked and horrified that his own country’s army has massacred so many innocent people at the Sikh’s holiest shrines, he felt he could not continue to serve under Sikh a draconian government. And so he resigned his post and that’s where it all began.
“ It is difficult to express in words my feelings over the recent events in Punjab, and especially the descration of the holy precincts of the Golden Temple and 37 other Gurdwaras in Punjab by allowing the armed forces to enter them precinote, kill the faithful and destroy and pillage all that is dear and close to the heart of every Sikh. The Indian Army, with a strength of four corps (11 corp, 10 corp, 1 corp, and 2 corp deployed) supported by Artillery (130 in Artillery Guns) and 24 Tanks entered the holy precinct of Harmandir Sahib and the Akal Takht Sahib was destroyed. As a Sikh, you are aware that the Gurudwaras are open to all, irrespective of one’s caste, creed or religion. The only force which the Sikhs have never allowed enter, without offering resistance, are the Government forces, whether they be the Mughal, Afgan or British. The entry of any Government force has been resisted. Baba Deep Singh the first Jathedar of Damdama Sahib (“Taksal” order) offered resistance to the troops of Ahmed Shah Abdali, when the Golden Temple was blown up by the Afgans and the holy tank desecrated by the carcasses of cows. Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, the fourteenth Jathedar of this very “Taksal” (Order) and a great Sikh Missionary, has now laid down his life, defending the sanctity of the Golden Temple.
What is even more painful is that after murdering the great Sikh nation here, Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, the Indian Army Forces placed his body along with the bodies of Gen. Subhag, Bhai Amrik Singh and Baba Thara Singh in front of the Darshani Deorhi, and displayed them to the Hindu Population which went delirious with joy. The Hindus offered sweets to the Indian Army to celebrate their great victory. It is regrettable that the Indian Army accept these sweets, and further humiliated the Sikh nation. The Indian Army, after seizing control of the Golden Temple Complex murdered several hundred Sikh whim it had captured (which is against the Rules of Geneve Conference), looted the Tosha-Khans, and after the mopping up operations were completed it planted several weapons on the Sikhs to prove that the Sikhs have aophiatied weapons and were making preparation to to wage a war against the Government on Indian and realize their dream of independent and sovereign state.
Since you are the Supreme Commander of the Armed forces, it is my duty to inform you that Sikhs with a few weapons, which only a platoon in an infantry Battalion has, cannot wage a war against the Government of India and attacking them with such a ferocity has only made our worst fears come true that the Government of Indian is bent upon committing the genocide of the Sikhs. Your statement in favour of this wild propaganda of the Government of Indian has poured salt on the wounds of every Sikhs, whether he is in India or abroad.
The Sikhs have been patriotic and faithful to India, but the arrogance of the majority community has totally alienated them. The Army action could have been avoided had the Government been serious in finding out a negotiated set time. The Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister had given assurance that the sanctity of the holy shrines would not be violated. Unfortunately, both were telling lies all along. Mrs Gandhi, Prime minister, has, by this cruel action Out-done Mahmood Ghazni, and she, like Shankaracharya, who eliminated the Buddhist faith in India, has, by this action, achieved a dubious reputation, though to the Hindus she has become the greatest Hindu leader since Shankaracharya.
The military action in Punjab is only a tentative gain, for which Mrs Gandhi will be given a fresh mandate by the Hindu Majority in the ensuing General Election the Parliament. However, as the President of the country and with your knowledge of Sikh history, and with your Military Adviser’s Knowledge Prime Minister of the Napoleon Spanish Campaign, you could have restrained the action of your Prime minister, and made her see the futility of this ruthless military campaign against your own people. The Government fo Indian is for too strong, and only the paranoid, the mentally sick and the Jingoistic Hindus will believe that the Sikhs were about to wage a war against the Government of India.
Regarding the Jallianwala Bagh tragedy, the Nobel Prize winner, Sir Rabindranath Tagore, wrote to the Viceroy relinquishing his Knighthood, stating- “The enormity of the measures taken by the Government in Punjab for quelling some local disturbances here, with acute shock, revealed to our minds the helplessness of our position as British Subjects in India.@
Sixty-five Years after he wrote this letter, I cannot find words which can express my feelings any differently. What a massacre, Mr President, and with such a great vengeance? The soldiers of the Indian Army, who now benefits for their next of Kin. Soldiers who lost their lives in the wars of 1962, 1965 and 1971, were not extended to those facilities. This extra bit of generosity clearly shows that the Sikhs are the biggest enemies of the Government of India, Pakistan and China having been relegated to second & third place respectively. You have just returned from Argentina, which was recently humiliated by the British in the Falkland war. The rapid resistance put up by the Argentine soldiers was due to the fact the Generals in Buenos Aires had killed 6,000 of their own youth in fake encounters. The Generals, as you must have observed, are behind bars and are awaiting sentences, which may bring them death. As such, this cruel and thoughtless military action in Punjab will put Mrs Gandhi back in the Chair, but if there is a war, I will tell you very frankly that what your government and Armed Forces have done in Punjab and are continuing with unabated zeal, the Sikhs will not support the Government in its war effort, and the Sikh soldier, known for his intrepid resistance the world over, will not put the type of defence, which has always saved India’s integrity. The Army has already killed well over 20,000 of our youth and the whereabouts of over 50,000 are not known. Your Prime Minister and her Generals are Pursuing a policy that has already made General Oyer Look to mils in comparison.
Since I strongly disapprove of this military action of the Indian Armed forces into the holy precincts of our Gurudwaras and the indiscriminate killings of my people, which will eventually lead to the disintegration of our country, I tend my resignation from the Indian Police Service with immediate effect. I will henceforth work in rehabilitating the Sikh families, who have suffered from this Barbaric military action, and may God help me in my endeavour. I resign without malice towards anyone because to do so would be against the tenets of my religion.
In the end, I appeal to all the Sikhs to observe the 6th of every month a Martyrdom Day, and march to the residence of the Prime minister, and offer their heads, so that she may quench her thirst for Sikh blood.By the grace of God, I will present myself before her on the 6th July 1984, Sikhs living in Provincial Headquarters should similarly present themselves before India’s envoys for similar sacrifices. It is only by quenching this lady’s thirst for Sikh blood that we will survive as a separate religious entity.” He was subsequently was formally served to me at my office in Bombay. I handed in my serviced revolver amidst my shocked staff some of whom were crying openly and some like my Personal Sect. Mr Kutti was hardly able to control themselves. I thanked all of them and walked out for good.
Simranjit Singh man then had to go underground because of fear of elimination by the Govt. of India. He spent the next four months in hiding in various parts of the country. Finally reaching Calcutta, where a plan was made for him and three others to cross over to Nepal for safety. By which time Indira Gandhi had been assassinated and the blood bath of the Sikhs had started. Trying to cross the border at Jogbani on 29th Nov 1984 he was stopped, he could have escaped but did not because one of his companions had a bad leg and could not run. Not being able to abandon his compassion, he and the three others were captured and taken to Bharatpur and lodged in Solitary Confinement in the jail.
In his first letter from Jail Simranjit Singh Mann recalls…
“I have not had the sun since I reached here. I say my prayers very often and the saving grace is that they let me have my ‘gutka’ [a prayer book small enough to carry around], the one which I’ve always carried and since there’s no place to keep it other than the floor, I keep it in my shirt pocket and even go to sleep with it in my pocket, always next to me… I have made friends with to pigeons, who now walk up to my cell, and I give them a few of the grams that are given to me. In fact they’re quite friendly and sometimes even come through the iron-spiked gate of my cell. There’s a cat too, a black and white striped one which visits my cell whenever it’s looking for a meal…RATS- I have no intention of befriending them-there are plenty of! Since the jail is quite far out of the city, I do hear the call of the partridge and ducks flying in and out of the bird sanctuary. They did their wings to say hello to me and fly merrily by. There are peacocks too; I hear their most annoying call but never get a glimpse of the majestic bird. Oh! And monkeys visit me often too. I’m thankful that the jail authorities allow me to see one of their gods, though the darshan of the Surya (sun) is never allowed!
I have made out a routine for myself and I follow is quite strictly or one could go loony. God is my only companion and He does keep me company and looks after me. The elections appear to have reached a pitch and I can hear the various candidates extol their virtues over the mikes, bout who has an edge is difficult to day as I can only hear the noise, which all of them have managed to make quite a bit of and in that sense I could say that if that’s the criteria for spotting the winner, then each one has as good a chance as the other!
I am not allowed any reading material and have been deprived of my watch, so it’s difficult to tell the time, date, or the day. I don’t even know if this letter will pass through, though I have written the barest minimum in conformity to the rules conveyed to me verbally. Give my love and respects to my parents and my parents-in-law-sorry for the formality but this is according to the rules here. Keep your chin up and keep smiling-whether the weather be good (or cold) we’ll weather the weather, not matter what the weather, weather we like it or not.
Goodbye and cheerio with lots of love,
“His cell was 10feet by 8feet. He was not let out for 15 days during which time he was repeatedly tortured. He was given electric shocks, beaten up, his beard was yanked out. When he complained to the jail superintendent Mr Upadhaya the latter replied, ”it was good for health and will keep your wits sharp.”
Detained in Bharatpur under the NSA because it was the only state in India where a person could be held under this draconian laws for up to 2 years without any charged being pressed. The family did not know where he was or how he was until the end of December. Mr Jethmilani fought and won the NSA case for him after one year. Simranjit Singh Mann was released and immediately re-arrested and flown off to Bombay before the family could reach with the court orders. In Bombay he was locked up in a prison cell with mad people, one of whom threw his excitement on him. From Bombay, he was transferred to Patna jail and later to the infamous Bhagalpur Jail, where he was again imprisoned in Solitary Confinement for 3 years without being charged.
During this period Punjab was in turmoil in the aftermath of Bluestar and the massacre of Sikhs after Mrs Gandhi’s assassination. Simranjit Singh Mann sacrificed for his people endeared him greatly to the people of Punjab. In April 1989 he was charged with “Criminal Conspiracy to wage war against the Govt and Conspiracy to Murder Indira Gandhi” and he was moved to Tihar Jail in Delhi in this case for some months & later sent back to Bhagalpur. After 5 long hard years, he was finally released with all charges against him dropped. Simranjit Singh Mann had won the Parliamentary seat from Taran-taran in Punjab by the highest majority ever in the country whilst confined in his cell in faraway Bhagalpur Jail.
His party formed, while he languished in prison went on to win all 13 seats of Punjab in Parliament thus creating History!!