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SOURCE: Republic

Just a day after Harbhajan Singh faced flak for paying tribute to Khalistani terrorist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, the Indian cricketer on Monday issued an apology on Twitter. Clarifying that it was a ‘WhatsApp forward’ that he posted in ‘haste,’ Harbhajan Singh admitted to his mistake and stated that he does not subscribe to the views reflected in the post that he shared yesterday.

In an apology and clarification note on Twitter, Harbhajan wrote, “I am a Sikh who will fight for India and not against India. This is my unconditional apology for hurting the sentiments of my Nation. In,fact, any anti-national group against my people I do not support and never will.”

The veteran off-spinner had shared a poster in Punjabi that paid tribute to Khalistani terrorist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and others killed inside the Golden Temple during Operation Blue Star. The post was shared by the Kolkata Knight Riders player on his Instagram profile last night.

“I have given my blood and sweat for this country for 20 years and will never ever support anything that is anti India,” Harbhajan Singh added, concluding his note with ‘Jai Hind’ chant.

Harbhajan Singh issues public apology

Harbhajan Singh’s Instagram story on Operation Blue Star anniversary 

The late PM Indira Gandhi had ordered Operation Blue Star whereby the Indian Army entered the Golden Temple in 1984 to flush out the terrorists led by Bhindranwale who wanted a carve out a sovereign state for the Sikh community. While Singh did not explicitly name Bhindranwale in his post, the Khalistani terrorist photo is featured prominently in the cricketer’s Instagram story on June 6. 

Posted on the 37th anniversary of Operation Bluestar, the post, shared on Harbhajan Singh’s Instagram, begins with the caption ‘Salute to the martyrs’. The text in the image written in Punjabi reads, “Heartfelt tribute to those martyred in Operation inside Shri Harmandir Sahib on June 1- June 6, 1984”. The post led to a massive outrage across social platforms as netizens condemned Harbhajan Singh’s ‘tribute’ to the Khalistani terrorist.

What is Operation Blue Star? Who is Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale? 

Born in 1947, Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was chosen as the head of the Sikh religious institution Damdami Taksaal in 1977 after Sant Kartar Singh was killed in a road accident. He rose to prominence on Baisakhi Day in spring 1978 when he stoked tempers by delivering a fiery speech against the members of the Nirankari sect as they took out a procession throughout the streets of Amritsar. After 13 persons marching with him were killed by the Nirankaris, he became the focal point for the outrage as Sikhs erupted in anger at the murders.

As the Shiromani Akali Dal-Janata Party government was in power in Punjab, Congress allegedly decided to back Bhindranwale to challenge the SAD. In fact, he even campaigned for some of the Congress candidates in the 1980 general election in which Indira Gandhi came back to power. However, things turned awry as the preacher propagated the creation of a Sikhism-based theocratic nation of Khalistan. Subsequently and his Khalistani supporters occupied the Akal Takht complex, including the Golden Temple, in Amritsar and gave refugee to all hues of criminal elements.

This compelled the Centre to launch Operation Blue Star which succeeded in rescuing the religious place from the clutches of the terrorists in June 1984. However, Indira Gandhi was assassinated just a few months later on October 31, 1984, by two of her Sikh bodyguards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh. On Sunday, supporters of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Mann) raised pro-Khalistan slogans at the Golden Temple. Describing the event as a “holocaust of 84”, Jathedar Akal Takht Gyani Harpreet Singh equated the Army action to a country attacking another nation and advocated maintaining unity among the Sikh community.