As someone who witnessed the turmoil Punjab underwent in the 1980s from close quarters, veteran journalist Mark Tully said Operation Bluestar was the outcome of panic, fear and mismanagement by the Central government, led by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
"The entire operation was done in a hurry and even the military strategy adopted for the operation was quite absurd. The Central government led by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi panicked that Sikhs from villages would march to the Golden Temple; it also feared mutiny within the army, which eventually did take place," he said.
Tully was in Amritsar on Sunday evening for a book reading session of his book 'Non-Stop India' at the local One Up library cum bookstore.
Former New Delhi bureau chief of the BBC, Tully covered Operation Bluestar and Operation Black Thunder for the corporation. He has also co-authored a book, 'Amritsar: Mrs Gandhi's Last Battle', which deals with the events leading up to Operation Bluestar and the assassination of Mrs Gandhi.
Answering a question, Tully agreed the Congress had supported Bhindranwale in his rise, adding that later he got out of the government's control. "The more the Congress government didn't do anything about it, the more Bhindranwale got out of hand. I feel if Indira Gandhi had taken strict action when Atwal (Avtar Singh Atwal, DIG of Jalandhar district) was shot dead near the Golden Temple on April 25, 1983, Operation Bluestar could have been avoided," he said.
When asked about the current situation in Punjab, Tully said the country as a whole was facing an administrative problem. "The image of Punjab has been that of a progressive and prosperous state, but when I returned to Punjab in 2004, I was shocked to know the problems the youth in the state faced," he said, adding that he did not want to single out Punjab as the entire country was facing an administrative problem.
He also spoke about issues like colonial mindset, corruption, quota system and present state of India's economy, which are hampering India's growth.
Tully said Anna Hazare's was not a genuine people's movement and that people were in a hurry to write him off. "When I went to the Ramlila Maidan when Swami Ramdev was addressing the gathering there, most of those present were his followers, and followers cannot make it a genuine movement," he said, adding that instead of passing a judgment on Hazare, people should let him succeed and ask him what he was going to do in terms of administrative reforms.