New Delhi: Brig (Retd) Israr Rahim Khan, who commanded the first battalion that entered the Golden Temple in Amritsar during Operation Bluestar says he has no intention of approaching the government, and would not beg for security.
Brig Khan was speaking in the wake of the attack on his former senior colleague in London. He said it was up to security agencies to maintain surveillance.
Brig Khan, who commanded the 10 Guards regiment during Operation Bluestar (June 3-6, 1984), expressed concern over the attack on Lt Gen (Retd) K.S. Brar in London. His former colleague was "saved by a whisker", Brig Khan said.
Gen Brar, who led the Indian Army operation into the Golden Temple 28 years ago suffered injuries in the face and neck when he was attacked by knife-wielding men near a hotel in central London Sunday night.
London's Metropolitan Police have so far not confirmed the identity of the four attackers with "long black beards".
Asked if he would seek heightened security in the wake of the attack on Gen Brar, Brig Khan said: "No, I don't want to. I am not a beggar. I have enough courage to face such a threat."
"It is their (government's) prerogative to provide security to a soldier," Khan told IANS.
Brig Khan asserted that being a soldier, he would fight if faced with an attack. "I will not die a coward's death, that is for sure," he said.
He said that although separatist elements had lain dormant for long in India, they were active outside India, including in Europe. He added that disgruntled Sikh elements still nurse resentment against Operation Bluestar.
Operation Bluestar was conducted by the army to flush out heavily armed militants from the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar. The complex, except for the sanctum sanctorum, suffered heavy damage.
Brig Khan observed that there was need for improved intelligence, following the attack on Gen Brar.
He opposed the construction of a memorial to militants who were killed during Operation Bluestar and said: "Any government which approves this should be tried for treason." He said that the government of Punjab should not aggravate the situation.
Brig Khan was at the front during the wars that India fought in 1965 and 1971. He served in Nagaland at the height of insurgency there, and was a Lt Col when he commanded the battalion that was the first to enter the Golden Temple.
From June 5, 1984, Brig Khan stayed in the Golden Temple for more than a fortnight, until then prime minister Indira Gandhi visited.
"I wanted to come out to look after men of my battalion, but was told that I should remain there," Brig Khan said.
Khan, who now lives in the vicinity of the capital, was given official accommodation in Delhi cantonment when he retired from the army in 1996, as he was placed under Z-category security. In 2003, the NDA government made a revision of the threat perception and withdrew the security cover offered to the retired brigadier. He was also asked to vacate the government accommodation.
Brig Khan said he had tried to meet then home minister L.K. Advani after his ministry downgraded the threat perception. At that time, Brig Khan said that Advani's private secretary Deepak Chopra had told him that since the minister was busy, the matter would be handled by a joint secretary of the ministry.
Brig Khan had also moved the court, but the government insisted that the threat perception had been revised and downgraded.