Reacting to the excerpts from the book 'Beyond the Lines' by veteran journalist Kuldeep Nayar, former Rajya Sabha MP Tarlochan Singh, who was a close confidant of Giani Zail Singh, on Monday clarified that the Giani was never behind the formation of Dal Khalsa, a Sikh outfit that came into existence in August 1978.
Tarlochan said Zail Singh's presence in the same hotel when Dal Khalsa was founded "was a coincidence; Giani had rebutted the allegations when he was alive".
The former minorities commission chairman said the Congress in late 1970s and early 1980s used Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale to divide Akalis and they were successful.
The book also says that Sanjay Gandhi, who was all-powerful then, used Bhindranwale against Akalis.
"Bhindranwale was created by circumstances, but was used by the Congress," Tarlochan said.
"Bhindranwale emerged after 16 Sikhs were killed in a clash with the Nirankaris in Amritsar in 1978, and he caused chaos in the state. He helped the Congress in the 1980 assembly elections and Darbara Singh became the chief minister. Earlier in 1979, the Congress helped Bhindranwale in the SGPC elections," Tarlochan added.
"Bhindranwale was bitter when Akalis emerged victorious in the SGPC polls despite the Congress help," said Tarlochan.
"But Akalis, who headed the SGPC, made a mistake by allowing Bhindranwale enter the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple, and he started collecting arms, much to the discomfort of the Congress," said Tarlochan.
It's propaganda: Dhami
Dal Khalsa, a Sikh outfit subscribing to the creation of a separate Sikh state with democratic and peaceful means, on Monday lambasted Kuldeep Nayar for writing in his latest book that "Giani Zail Singh had blessed the foundation of the Dal Khalsa to needle the Akalis".
In a statement, Dal Khalsa president HS Dhami charged Nayar with spreading vilified propaganda in 'Beyond the Lines: An Autobiography', insisting that there was not even an iota of truth in his claims.
Dhami said Dal Khalsa was founded on August 6, 1978, at a meeting held at a Chandigarh gurdwara by several Sikh youth organisations. However, the founding members made it public through a press conference on August 13. The nomenclature 'Dal Khalsa' was provided by former Indian Civil Service officer Sirdar Kapur Singh and the organisation stood for the glory of the Khalsa Panth and defied mainstream political parties, including the Akalis, he added.
Referring to Nayar's reference that Giani Zail Singh's supporters paid the bill for the Dal Khalsa's first press conference at a Chandigarh hotel, Dhami said this controversy had arisen because Giani happened to hold his press conference at the same hotel and virtually at the same time. It was on the basis of this that Nayar had linked the creation of the Dal Khalsa to the Congress, said Dhami.
Dhami stated that three years after its formation, Dal Khalsa activists had hijacked an Indian Airlines plane to Lahore to seek the release of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and lodge their protest against the killings of 16 Sikh protesters at Chowk Mehta on September 20, 1981. At that time, Punjab was ruled by the Congress and the same party was at the helm at the Centre.
Following the hijacking, the union government had imposed a ban on the Dal Khalsa, which continued till 1994. "How come then that Dal Khalsa activities became a cause of embarrassment for the Akalis," he questioned.
The Dal Khalsa chief also criticised Nayar for portraying Bhai Amrik Singh, former All India Sikh Students Federation chief, who was killed during Operation Bluestar, as an "IB (intelligence bureau) agent", dubbing it "a senseless allegation.