New Delhi: Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief Sukhbir Singh Badal on Friday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, requesting him to ensure the acquittal of 309 Sikh soldiers who deserted the Army after action on the Golden Temple.
In a letter, Badal requested the Prime Minister to acquit the soldiers of all charges and treat them as ex-servicemen, restoring all benefits to them.
He said the soldiers had left the Army in a 'state of shock' over the 'crime committed by the then ruling party' to send the Army to oust Khalistani extremist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his supporters.
"In June 1984, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi ordered pre-meditated attack on the temporal seat of the Sikh religion, Sri Akal Takhat Sahib and Sri Durbar Sahib. The attack was carried out by the army with heavy artillery and tanks. Needless to say that the then Prime Minister in a bid to crush the essence of the Sikh community ordered this attack," the letter says.
The "shocked" soldiers left the barracks on hearing the news of the "attack" and were later court-martialled and punished for deserting the Army, stated Badal in the letter.
The government is celebrating 550th Parkash Purb of Guru Nanak Dev and I appeal, the letter said, to acquit the soldiers of "all charges and treat thorn as ex-servicemen and restore all ex-servicemen benefit to them." In June 1984, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi had ordered an Army action -- Operation Blue Star -- to remove Bhindranwale and his followers from the Harmandir Sahib complex in Amritsar, Punjab.
As a fallout of the action, Gandhi was assassinated by her own Sikh bodyguards on October 31, 1984.