Operation Blue Star: Detailed account
Operation Bluestar: Detailed Account-Background
Operation Blue Star was a code name given by the Indian government to an attacked when launched on the Golden Temple, the holiest shrine of the Sikhs. The attack, initiated on May 31st 1984, was one of the most inflammatory actions ever taken by the Indian government and showed the real face of regime, which rules India. This attack proved the values which is highest held in society: freedom, and even explicitly mentioned in all constitutions, including the Indian constitution as Freedom of religion, was not of importance in India.
There are many reasons why the Indian government attacked the Golden Temple, but among them the main reasons for the attack was simply to destroy Sikhism at its roots. In order to understand this it is important to first look at how Sikh/Hindu relations started. Hindus have been against Sikhism since the time of Guru Nanak Dev ji, most notably the Brahmins (upper caste Hindus) because Sikhism rejects the idea of a caste system. It teaches equality for all and declares women equal to men. Guru Nanak Dev Ji preached the message of One God, which is totally against Hinduism. So Hindus, mostly Brahmins (the upper class Hindus), turned against Sikhism.
During the time of Guru Gobind Singh ji not only Brahmins but also other castes turned against Sikhism. Guru ji established Khalsa and everyone was given full rights and everyone was required to sit together and eat Langar. Brahmins didn't like lower caste people sitting equally to them and second and third class people didn't like lower class people taking up arms for self-defense under the command of Guru Ji. Guru Ji not only fought Mughals but also Hindu kings who were jealous of Guru Ji's power. Hindus always betrayed Sikhs. After the British annexed the Sikh Kingdom, a Hindu sect Arya Samaj turned against Sikhs and tried to declare that Sikhs were actually Hindus and Sikhism was just another sect of Hinduism.
Anti Sikh sentiment
For a while this anti-Sikh propaganda slowed, but with the gaining of Indian independence, the Hindus once again resumed and increased their negative activities. While under British control Gandhi and Nehru promised Sikhs that they would have full rights and freedom. They also stated that Sikhs would have the rights to rule Punjab without any interference from the government and that no laws would be passed without discussing them with Sikhs. Gandhi said "You (Sikhs) take my word that if ever the Congress or I betray you, you will be justified to draw the sword as taught by Guru Gobind Singh." But as soon as the British left India Sikhs were fired from their jobs and Hindus were hired. Sikhs were declared as traitors of India.
On top of this when the Indian constitution was written Sikhs refused to sign it in the parliament house because Sikhs were declared “Hindus with long hair.” Gandhi told Sikhs that if they cut their hair and give up their faith and joined the Hindus, they would be given the full right and hired at the jobs (the very same liberties which were denied them) but Sikhs refused to do so.
The Indian government broke all of their promises and forgot all about the liberties the Sikhs had essentially won for India. When Nehru was asked about creating a separate Punjabi state, he brushed it off by saying "Circumstances have changed now." When China attacked India, it was the Sikhs who saved Nehru's life but he still thought of Sikhs as his enemies and mistreated them. Sikhs fought bravely against Pakistan in the wars of 1965 and 1971, yet the Indian government paid no attention to Sikhs' loyalty. When Pakistan army agreed to surrender, Hindu officers were sent to sign the negotiation instead of Sikhs. At this the Muslims of Pakistan refused to surrender saying that "brave people (Muslims) surrender only to brave people (Sikhs)." So Pakistan surrendered to the Sikhs, but Indian television did not show this on the television. They showed only hands. Sikhs were not shown on TV. Despite their heroism and valor Sikhs were not even dignified with credit for their labors.
In 1978 the Indian government sent an agent, Gurbachan, to Punjab to disillusion and slowly destroy Sikhism. He started by speaking against Sikhism and insulting the Sikhs Holy Scripture Siri Guru Granth Sahib Ji. Sikhs could not tolerate this outrageous propaganda and they launched a peaceful march to stop him. But the agent called “Nirankari Gurbachan” had already had Indian troops with him and had ordered them to shoot Sikhs. 13 Sikhs were killed and most others were injured. No one was punished for this massacre and the government blamed Sikhs for the occurrence. This angered Sikhs and they rebelled against the Indian government.
Then a religious leader, Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, took power in the Sikh Quam and started a campaign to preaching Sikhism. He preached the truth and woke the Sikh nation. He openly spoke against the Indian government's activities against Sikhism. He said, "Many Sikhs have been killed by Indian government but not even a single case has been registered. But when a Hindu was killed by police, president Indira Gandhi herself came over to his house and gave his family a hundred thousand rupees and the police officer was punished. Is this not discrimination?
Three Sikhs hijacked a passenger plane for the cause of religion and not even a single passenger was harmed, The Indian government declared them as terrorists and they were killed at the airport. But when Hindus hijacked a plane to free a jailed Indira Gandhi, they were given positions in the government and the government declared them as heroes after meeting their demands and letting a guilty Indira go free. Is this not discrimination?"
Support for Bhindranwale
These messages influenced people very much. After hearing the truth, people started supporting Sant Jarnail Singh Ji Bhindranwale and a freedom movement rose. Many people became Sikhs. Sometimes, as many as 10,000 people would initiated into Sikhism at one ceremony. (At that time there was no mention of Khalistan.) Sant Jarnail Singh Ji and many political leaders launched a peaceful march. They wanted the Indian government to grant them full rights and treat them as first class citizens. An Anandpur Sahib resolution was brought to attention by Sant Jarnail Singh Ji, which included many demands for Punjab and Sikhs such as:
- 1. Regional autonomy for Punjab. (The Indian Government was interfering)
- 2. Return of Chandigarh to Punjab. (Chandigarh was split as a duel capital for two states)
- 3. Special status for Sikhs in the Indian union. (Sikhs were called “long haired Hindus” not Sikhs)
- 4. A Supreme Court review of Punjab river waters, (Punjab’s water was being sent to other states)
- 5. Return of the Punjabi speaking areas to Punjab, (The government split Punjab into many separate states)
- 6. Provision of a fare share of electricity to Punjab, (Electricity was being split and not provided fairly to Punjab)
- 7. Declaring Amritsar a Holy City (Hindu and Buddhists Cities were named “holy cities” but the center of Sikhism was not given such a status)
and some other religious demands.
Indian government ignores Sikh demands
The Indian government paid no attention to Sikh concerns and began arresting Sikhs blindly. About 150,000 Sikhs were arrested and many were killed- still not a single demand was met. Sant Jernail Singh said, "There is no solution to Sikhs' problems without freedom." Riots between Hindus and Sikhs broke out. When Sikhs were killed, police took no action but when Hindus were killed, not only victims were punished but also innocent Sikhs were killed.
Intimidation of Sikhs
In other states of India many Sikhs were killed. All Sikhs travelling in trains and buses were stopped and killed. In Haryana, Hindus were called from villages by beating drums to kill Sikhs. Every train was stopped and Sikhs were dragged out and killed. At this point Sant Jarnail Singh was assured that the Indian government was making plans to attack the Golden Temple at Amritsar. He addressed the Sikhs and advised them to be ready to defend the Golden Temple. He said, "The day Indian government attacks the Golden Temple, foundation of Khalistan will be laid."
Resistance by Sikhs
When the movement got out of the government's control, Punjab was handed over to the military. The Indian government had planned to attack Golden Temple in the first week of June because Martyr day of Fifth Guru, Guru Arjan Dev ji was on June 6th and Indian government knew there was going to be a big Sikh gathering. The Government knew that Sikhs would gather in thousands. Punjab was totally under military control. A curfew was announced. Telephone lines were cut and all press reporters were asked to leave Punjab. Punjab was completely disconnected from the rest of the world. The entire state was surrounded by troops and all paths were blocked. Nobody was allowed to enter or leave. All the Sikhs were being harassed all over India.
On May 31st the Indian government launched an attack on the Golden Temple with hundreds of troops. There were only 251 Sikhs inside to protect the complex of the Golden Temple. But it was not a big attack at first because Sikhs were coming to Golden Temple to celebrate Martyr day of Guru Arjan Dev Ji. Sikhs held the army back for four days. Many troops lost their lives but not a single person of army could enter the Temple.
Then the Indian government brought tanks and destroyed the Akaal Takhat Sahib, which is right in front of the Golden Temple. On June 6th, when all Sikh fighters became martyrs, the war was over and the Indian troops entered the temple. They did not even respect the holiness of the sacred place and entered with their shoes on, showing utter indecency. When Indian troops found that only 251 men had stopped them from entering the temple for 6 days they started killing innocent Sikhs who had come there to visit the Temple.
Heavy weapons needed to overcome a few Sikhs
This was to hide their humiliation. The small number of heroic Sikhs killed even the best of their army men. Sikhs in the temple were lined up and shot---dead, not even children were spared. About 50,000 Sikhs were killed that day. Priceless Sikh artefacts were burnt. All the Literature written by the Gurus was taken away by the army, but they claimed that it was burnt while bombing the Temple. The whole of Amritsar city was burnt. Many visitors were killed and arrested.
Sikhs' shops were looted and houses were burnt. Hindu mobs went to every Sikh house and burnt Sikhs alive, women were dishonored even pregnant Sikh women. Most Sikhs that were killed were between ages from 5 to 40. Their main target was young Sikh males. The Indian government feared that young Sikhs would rebel. They thought if they killed young Sikh men then there would be no Sikh marriages and in next 10 or 15 years the Sikh population would not increase and they would eventually die out.
Long occupation of Punjab
Indian government started making excuses about why it had become necessary to attack Golden Temple. The government claimed that Sant Jarnail Singh and his companions were using the building as their hiding place and had kept deadly weapons inside the building. Furthermore, they said they wanted to arrest Bhindranwale and drive him out of Golden Temple. But my point is if they wanted to arrest Bhindranwale then why couldn't they arrest him when he preached all over India.
He went to Bombay, Delhi and other major cities. So why couldn't the Indian government arrest him there? Why couldn't they arrest him at Mehta Choank? If the Golden Temple was attacked to drive out Sant Bhindranwale then why were other more than 50 Sikh temples attacked on the same day in Punjab by the army? Why were thousands of innocent people killed?
Policy of suppression
Why did the government have to use tanks and heavy artillery to drive out a few Sikhs? The truth is, it was a big plan of the Hindu government to destroy Sikhism and merge it into Hinduism. If you just look at what happened to Sikhs before 1984, it makes clear sense of why the Indian government attacked Golden Temple. Just look at the Olympic games of 1983 where no person with the last name "Singh" was allowed to enter Delhi. If Bhindranwale was the target then why didn't the army leave Punjab right after it was over? Why was the literature burned? Why did Indian troops linger and disrespectfully smoke cigars inside the temple?
All of the visitors to the Golden Temple were arrested and they all starved to death because they were not given any food to eat not even a single drop of water. When someone asked for water, the army men said "Drink that blood on the floor. That's what you deserve. You deserve to die." Many visitors were locked up in the rooms for two days without any food, water, or electricity and they all starved to death.
The Golden Temple remained under the army control for months. WHY?!!! Because Indian government wanted to put someone in charge who would support them. Using Sant Jarnail Singh's name was just a mere excuse. The truth is he was a real leader who openly spoke for the rights of Sikhs. In 1982, he had already said that Indian government was making plans to attack Golden Temple. Indian government built a model of Golden Temple in Dehradoon and the army was given special training.
Barbaric policies/Abuse of Human Rights
When Sikhs in other states found out about the attack, they rebelled. Most of them who were in the Indian army and were far away from Punjab. They quickly left for Punjab and thwarted and killed many Hindus in power and officers. This put a stop to Indian army's mission of killing innocent Sikhs in Punjab. Indian government turned its attention to Sikh military and tried to stop them before they could reach Punjab. Many Sikhs were killed on the way and many were arrested.
There are about 60,000 Sikhs in jails without any charge or trial. Five months later Indira Gandhi was assassinated by her two Sikh bodyguards. One of them became martyr at the spot and other was hanged later after severe tortures. About 5,000 Sikhs were killed in four days. The mobs were organized by the government officials.
Every Hindu was given 500 rupees and one liquor bottle to kill Sikhs. Mobs were given addresses of Sikhs' houses and shops so that their property could be destroyed. No Hindu house was attacked, only Sikhs' houses were burned and Sikhs were killed and burned alive. Most young Sikh males were killed and many young Sikh females were dishonored.
After Operation Blue Star and the Sikh massacre in Delhi, Sikh rebellions took over Golden Temple in order to restore the respect and honor it was entitled to, but the Indian government didn't like this. They wanted the Golden Temple under their control. So another attack was launched on the Golden Temple in 1987, called "Operation Black Thunder". This time only Sikh rebellions were the main target. Thousands were killed and dead bodies lay inside the Holy place for many days. My father was a Ragi in the Golden Temple during that time. He tells of the brutality of the Indian government who refused to remove the bodies saying that, those dead bodies were Sikhs' and it was Sikhs' responsibility to remove them.
According to my father, all employees of SGPC volunteered to remove the bodies. My father said the bodies lay there for days in the hot sun because it was summer time. The bodies were so rotten that when my father tried to pull one body by its arm, the skin came off in his hand. People could not even enter the Temple because of the smell. Many trucks were loaded with dead bodies and all were burned with kerosene oil. Other operations against Sikhs were "Operation Woodrose" (killing amritdhari Sikhs extrajudically) and Operation Black Thunder II (continued where Operation Black Thunder had finished).
After the second attack, Sikhs organized themselves into a military power in order to fight the Indian government. These brave Sikhs avenged the massacre in Delhi and killed many traitors. Many Sikhs have left India to escape religious persecution. Sikhs have spread out all over the world to enjoy the freedom and have better lives. Many Sikhs consider themselves as Khalistanis. No matter what country you go to you will see Sikhs living there and keeping the movement of Khalistan alive.
The fighting is still going on. The Indian government has killed over 1 million to 1.2 million Sikhs in the last 18 years (figures according to "THE SIKHS IN HISTORY" by Dr. Sangat Singh). Indian government has also killed 50,000 Christians and 100,000 Muslims since 1947. The only one way to stop this terrorism is to create a Khalistan where Sikhs and other religious people can enjoy their freedom. LONG LIVE KHALISTAN. LONG LIVE REVOLUTION. KHALISTAN ZINDABAD.
- Operation Blue Star
- Operation Blue Star: The untold story
- Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale
- Sikh Holocaust of 1980s
- Gurdwara Yaadgaar Shaheedan
- Wikipedia - Operation Blue Star
- BBC - After Blue Star
- Eye witness accounts of the Army action
- Eye witness accounts of the Army action - Download file
- Eyewitness Account - Operation Bluestar (1 of 3)
- Eyewitness Account - Operation Bluestar (2 of 3)
- Eyewitness Account - Operation Bluestar (3 of 3)