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‘Long-time aide Haksar cautioned Indira against Op Bluestar’

The biography written by Cong leader Jairam Ramesh says Haksar, who remained secretary in PMO from 1967-73, advocated conciliatory measures to solve Punjab problem, suggested transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab as capital

punjab Updated: Jul 07, 2018 15:49 IST
Haksar,Indira,Op Bluestar
Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh launched the biography ‘Intertwined lives: PN Haksar & Indira Gandhi’ written by senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh.(HT Photo)

Diplomat and bureaucrat PN Haksar, a long-time aide of former prime minister Indira Gandhi, had suggested a political solution to the Punjab problem through conciliatory measures and also cautioned her against carrying out Operation Bluestar at the Golden Temple, a newly launched book claims.

Before the operation in the first week of June in 1984, Haksar wrote to Indira to build a consensus among the opposition parties to transfer Chandigarh as the capital of Punjab, says the biography ‘Intertwined lives: PN Haksar & Indira Gandhi’ written by senior Congress leader Jairam Ramesh.

The book was launched by Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh at the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID) here on Friday.

Jairam describes Haksar’s relations with Indira as personal and dissects into the phases when he was number 2 in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) after the PM herself from May 1967 to January 1973.

In a communiqué sent to Indira in March that year, Haksar had also suggested to build a new capital for Haryana, to decide allocation of water by a commission as per the riparian principle and “border areas of Haryana and Punjab such as Fazilka and Abohar be redefined with village as a unit, on linguistic basis, in a territorial contiguity”.

The former Union minister has mentioned in the book that Haksar concluded his letter, saying, “If you enter the Golden Temple someday, the steps I suggested are the necessary pre-condition.”

Amarinder called it an important book documenting a key phase of Indian history and that a lot of research has gone into writing it.

Jairam said he has written the book not for any political reasons but because information on life of Haksar was available from a primary source. “I felt that a book be written on Haksar as not a single one was written in the past,” he said.

As per the book, Haksar suggested the PM to build a larger consensus on the Punjab problem and also asked her to write to each and every leader of political parties on the issue.

Suggesting reconciliation, he asked Indira to release those who were arrested for violating the Constitution.

“He drifted away from Indiraji due to her son Sanjay Gandhi, as Haksar objected to the launch of Maruti by son of a PM who lives in the PM house,” the author writes.

“When militancy broke out in Punjab, Haksar was no longer powerful but he continued to take up issues with her (Indira),” the book says.

On May 8, 1984, Haksar met Indira to discuss the Punjab issue and on May 25 he again wrote to her expressing disappointment that his suggestions were ignored, says the book.

Haksar said the release of Akalis was part of an integrated plan.

Referring to the extremists, Haksar told Indira that “with the sustained ideology of Khalistan ... their aim would to create conditions for migration of Hindus, especially from urban areas and their withdrawal from trades, commerce, industry and property holdings”.

First Published: Jul 07, 2018 15:46 IST