Brahma Chellaney-Only Independent reporter of 1984 Bluestar

Brahma Chellaney is Professor of Strategic Studies at the New Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research, an independent, privately funded think-tank. Until recently, he was also a Member of the Policy Advisory Group headed by the External Affairs Minister of India.
Professor Chellaney is widely regarded as one of India's top strategic thinkers. Stanley Weiss in the International Herald Tribune, for example, called him "one of India's top strategic thinkers." He is very well known as a commentator on regional and international issues in the field of strategic affairs. He is one of the authors of India's nuclear doctrine and its first strategic defense review. Those contributions came when Professor Chellaney was an adviser to India's National Security Council until January 2000, serving as convenor of the External Security Group of the National Security Advisory Board, as well as member of the Board's Nuclear Doctrine Group.

Coverage of Operation Bluestar

Professor Chellaney began his career as a journalist in his early 20s, working as the South Asia correspondent of the leading international wire service, Associated Press. In that capacity, he covered the June 1984 Indian security operation, known as Operation Bluestar, to flush out Sikh militants holed up in the sprawling complex of the Golden Temple, the holiest Sikh shrine. His exclusive coverage won him a prestigious journalism award—a Citation for Excellence in 1985 by the Overseas Press Club, New York. Mr. Chellaney later finished his Ph.D. and entered academia.
Before the storming of Golden Temple by Indian Army starting June 3, 1984, reporters were removed from Punjab(India) by the authorities and a media blackout was enforced. Journalists working for foreign news organizations were confined to Amritsar's Hotel Ritz, from where they were bused to the neighboring state of Haryana. All main towns were put under curfew, transportation was banned, news blackout was imposed and Punjab was "cut off from the outside world." Brahma Chellaney of the Associated Press was the only foreign reporter who managed to stay on in Amritsar despite the media blackout. His dispatches, filed by telex, provided the first non-government news reports on the attack in Amritsar.
His first dispatch, front-paged by the New York Times, The Times of London and The Gaurdian, reported a death toll about twice of what authorities had admitted. According to the dispatch, about 780 militants and civilians and 400 troops had perished in fierce gunbattles. The high casualty rates among security forces were attributed to "the presence of such sophisticated weapons as medium machine guns and rockets in the terrorists' arsenal." Mr. Chellaney also reported that "several" suspected Sikh militants had been shot with their hands tied.. The dispatch, after its first paragraph reference to "several" such deaths, specified later that "eight to 10" men had been shot in that fashion. In that dispatch, Mr. Chellaney interviewed a doctor who said he was picked up by the army and forced to conduct postmortems despite the fact he had never done any postmortem examination before.The number of causalities reported by Mr. Chellaney were far more than government reports, and embarrassed the Indian government, which disputed his casualty figures and accused him of inflammatory reporting. The Associated Press stood by the reports and figures, the accuracy of which was also "supported by Indian and other press accounts" according to Associated Press; and reports in The Times and The New York Times.

Reaction of authorities to Chellaney's Operation Bluestar reports

The government cited Mr. Chellaney's dispatches published in the The New York Times, TheTimesof London and The Gaurdian to accuse him and the Associated Press of breaking the press-censorship order that had been promulgated in the state of Punjab. It ordered Punjab police to investigate, and the police did question Mr. Chellaney. When the police found out that Mr. Chellaney had technically not violated the censorship order because he had filed his dispatches by telex from the neighboring state of Himachal Pradesh, the government then threatened to charge him under the draconian Terrorist Affected Areas Act (TAAA). However, despite the government threat to prosecute Mr. Chellaney, as the New York Times noted editorially, "he was never arrested or formally charged, though he was subjected to intense interrogation."

There were three reasons why no formal charges were ever filed. First, the government actions against Mr. Chellaney caused outrage in the journalism world and civil liberties organizations.The New York Times took the lead, carrying several editorials severely criticizing Indian authorities. In one editorial, titled "Truth on Trial—in India," it said Mr. Chellaney "provoked displeasure by doing his job too well."The Associated Press Managing Editors Association, comprising editors of major U.S. newspapers, adopted a resolution calling on the Indian government to "cease all proceedings, under way and contemplated," pointing out that '"responsible Indian officials have corroborated Mr. Chellaney's news dispatches from Amritsar." The International Federation of Journalists (Brussels) protested the "continued harassment" of Mr. Chellaney by the Indian government. That organization asked for the free exercise of journalism in India.Other media organizations also protested. The Editors' Guild of India protested the curbing of press freedom and the illegal charges sought to be framed against Mr. Chellaney by the government. Second, the Associated Press and Mr. Chellaney took the case to the Supreme Court of India, which set up a full constitutional bench to hear the matter. The government act was also challenged as "unconstitutional" by Maharaja of Patiala, Amrinder Singh, in a separate application filed in the Supreme Court.
Third, Mr. Chellaney's reporting had been corroborated by several other Indian publications and by the army general who commanded Operation Bluestar, Krishnaswamy Sundarji. Sundarji, in an interview to the now-defunct Illustrated Weekly of India, had confirmed Mr. Chellaney's death toll of nearly 1,200 in that operation. As a top editor of the Indian Express later wrote, investigations by the newspaper "found that what Chellaney had written was absolutely correct."
The pending preliminary charges against Mr. Chellaney were formally dropped in September 1985and his press credentials restored."Mr. Chellaney's only offenses were enterprise and accuracy," the New York Times editorialized, hailing the decision. "Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi has written the right ending to a case he inherited with the Sikh crisis," it added.


Dhillon Sa'aB™
Staff member
Re: Brahma Chellaney-Only Independent reporter of 1984 Blues

Ok his name is Brahma, must be telling the truth,, lets trust him :p


Re: Brahma Chellaney-Only Independent reporter of 1984 Blues

So you are trusting this one reporter over 100's of other reporters. I think you are choosing to trust someone based on what you already believe.
Re: Brahma Chellaney-Only Independent reporter of 1984 Blues

So you are trusting this one reporter over 100's of other reporters. I think you are choosing to trust someone based on what you already believe.

He worked for Associated Press whose news is published and republished by more than 1,700 newspapers, in addition to more than 5,000 television and radio's in 120 countries.

His findings were confirmed by the same General Sundarji who commanded operation bluestar and by several Independent News organizations. Do i need to say more or you still going to accuse "India's top strategic thinker" one who advises India's foriegn minister on policies and one who holds a P.H.D in arms control of fabricating stuff?

P.S - He was in Punjab way before those 100's of reporters you talk about got into India and that is why i trust his first hand accounts.
Re: Brahma Chellaney-Only Independent reporter of 1984 Blues

guys media is controlled by government at that time, so whatever they say that get published like today. At that time media force ppl to see only one side of coin and made their thinking against saint ji and same thing happening now with moists.

Is anybody know why moists fighting i don't think so, coz media only write what goverment says.
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