1984 Anti-Sikh Pogrom 1984 Commemorative Articles Operation Bluestar


1947-2014 (Archived)
Remembering 1984



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1947-2014 (Archived)
Re: http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/hard-talk/25149-1984-commemorative-articles-operati

1984 & I:
The Face of Evilby GURMEET KAUR


This year, 2009, marks the 25th Anniversary of 1984, when horrendous crimes were committed against the Sikhs in the very land of their origin. To commemorate this sad milestone, we at sikhchic.com have asked our regular columnists, as well as our contributors and readers, to share with us the impact 1984 has had on their lives. We have requested personal stories and anecdotes, as well as an attempt to capture their inner thoughts and deepest ruminations on what 1984 means to each one of them and their loved ones - without going into a litany of facts and figures or a listing of the injustices to date, all of which will invariably be covered with due diligence elsewhere. We intend to present these personal perspectives to you throughout the twelve months of 2009.

The following is the sixth of the series entitled "1984 & I". It is notable in that it describes the personal experiences of the author who lived in a city several hundred miles south of New Delhi - the latter being the main location of the anti-Sikh pogroms. As she explains, such massacres took place in towns and cities across the country.

He loved eating tandoori chicken and goat curry.

We suspected that his wife didn't care to cook meat in her kitchen; perhaps because they were observing Hindus. So he loved to stop by at our home to eat with my Dad; as a neighbour, he was always welcome. He was also the Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) of our area, and Dad was happy to have a "friend" in the police.

DSP Bhadoria's visits were almost a weekly affair.

Chickens, whiskey, jokes, laughter - loud ones.

I did not particularly care for Daddy's drinking or his meat-eating buddies, because they always stayed late, way past our bed time, literally nibbling on food like mice; picking off the flesh one bone at a time, while my little sister and I waited on them with hot phulke (thin, flat breads) on demand. Mom stood for hours in the kitchen, fluffing them on the gas-stove and tending to other chores in between.

I had a special aversion for this friend of his ... I was a self-converted vegetarian and every chicken killed was a personal blow to my compassion-to-animals philosophy, and Mr. Bhadoria's big belly consumed them in multiples. Besides, I thought that he was taking advantage of his position. How come Daddy was never dining at his home?

On the afternoon of October 31, 1984 - I remember studying on our flat rooftop, under the canopy of the old giant tree that stood next to our home, tall enough and aptly positioned to provide just the right shade for my desk, chair and lamp - my make-shift eco-study-room
We lived in Indore, a city located in the central part of India, several hundred miles south of its capital, New Delhi. My parents had moved here when I was just a month old.

I heard my buddy, Sapan, calling and waving at me from his third floor apartment porch that overlooked the roof of our single storey house. His body language conveyed a sense of urgency.

I ran to end of the roof closer to his house. A side street separated our homes.

"You don't have to kill her anymore, she is dead. Her Sardar (Sikh) bodyguards roasted her."

I could see him feeling important, delivering a very important piece of news. His tone had a bit of accusation in it, though.

I froze.

I still remember the enormity of emotions that engulfed me. And I shamelessly admit that pride and relief were some of them. Fear was natural, but an afterthought.

June of that very year - a mere five months earlier - flashed in front of my eyes. I remembered when my maasi (mother's sister) was visiting us from Delhi. All the way from the train station to home, she was silent and could barely hold her tears, her face flushing-hot. As soon as she walked inside, she had let go into a wail.

Words poured out: "Darbar Sahib (a.k.a. Harmandar Sahib or The Golden Temple in Amritsar) was attacked, the army killed thousands of innocent Sikh visitors, the sarovar (the pool surrounding the main shrine) turned red with blood..."

They had heard the news of the army assault on The Golden Temple on the train, as they were headed to Indore to visit us for summer. To add insult to injury, they had to bear taunts from their co-travelers in their train.

For days and days, we talked about what had happened in Punjab. Hurt, humiliated, enraged. We heard the neighbours, schoolmates, newspapers justify the attack and declare victory over the so called "secessionist" agenda of the Sikhs.

"If you have to live in our country, behave yourself, live with your head bowed low ..." a shopkeeper had told me once, after I picked up and paid for provisions.

I had remembered telling Sapan how I felt like taking revenge upon and killing Indira Gandhi, the Prime Minister of India, who had ordered the attack on the heart of Sikhism, the Darbar Sahib, alongwith some 40 other gurdwaras throughout Punjab. I was a 15-year-old who wouldn't harm an animal, but Mrs. Gandhi - she was a monster for me.

"Did she have to launch a full scale army attack to get to a few armed men who roamed about freely and even appeared before the media just a few days ago? What happened to intelligence services? Everybody knows that the Darbar Sahib has four doors, and is always open to all. Anyone could walk in and request a meeting with Sant Bhindrawale (the Sikh religious leader accused of rebelling against the government) and his men. [As Harry Reasoner of CBS' 60 Minutes had said, only a few days before!]

And was it a mere coincidence that she chose to assault us on one of our primary high holidays, the very day we were commemorating the martyrdom of Guru Arjan - who died while upholding freedom of religion, for all? Even on a normal day, the visitors numbered in tens, if not hundreds of thousands, coming in from all over the world ..." - I would argue with him, on and on.

The most important center of the fifth largest religion in the world had been attacked and how adeptly she had managed to plan it, concealing the enormity of it and later trying to justify it, barring the international press and human rights groups from the province way in advance of the assault.

The intentions of the so-called "Operation Blue Star" were clear as crystal to me, even 25 years ago. It was meant to create the semblance of national unity by creating a national enemy. What better than, under the ruse of moving to preserve the "integrity of India", actually consolidating her own political power by launching a war against this enemy?

George W. Bush must have learnt a lesson or two for his war against terrorism from Indira Gandhi. His mistake, though, was that he didn't ban the press outright and conceal his crimes from the world.

I don't think my friend understood my rage.

His sources were the newspapers that would describe Sikhs generically as terrorists, preparing for armed rebellion to declare their homeland free. They also reported isolated incidences of violence against innocent bus travelers, followed by pictures of brave police officers boasting alongside a dead "Sikh terrorist", lying down next to purported "automated artillery".

Yet, my cousins from Punjab would tell me how the police would pick up young Sikh boys and stage fake encounters, kill them and plant weapons on them to make them look like armed terrorists. There were news reports later - but hidden in the back pages - of cars found abandoned with turbans and fake beards hidden in their trunks! The media did not dare to draw conclusions!

Sometimes, our arguments would heat up. I remember beating my friend one day when he lost an argument and resorted to insults. I was taller than most boys my age, athletic and hot-headed. He just liked to test my muscles from time to time; we were still the best of friends.

Dad had come home early, as soon as he read the news in the evening tabloid. A dark cloud hung over our heads. We spent the evening glued to the TV and calling our relatives. The news of "revenge against Sikhs" had started to trickle in, alongside the swearing-in of Mrs. Gandhi's son, Rajiv Gandhi, as the new Prime Minister of India.

The next morning, we were violently interrupted in our breakfast as a loud brick flew in through our living-room window, pelting shattered glass all over.

A mob of about 20 was outside the courtyard gate, hurling bricks and rocks at our home, chanting slogans like "Sikhs are traitors!" "They killed our Mother!" and "Blood for blood!"

The one-time dictator of India who had, only a few years earlier, unilaterally dissolved the government, censored the press ... and had herself, as a result, been charged, convicted and imprisoned for crimes of corruption and seen as a tyrant by Indians and the rest of the world alike, had suddenly become a martyr and the Mother of the nation?

The mob quickly dispersed after a few minutes of terrorizing us.

Daddy quickly got on the phone to call his police-officer friend. Strangely, he was nowhere to be found, either at home or at the police station. Daddy kept calling him through the day and leaving urgent messages.

Finally, the phone rang. I jumped up, anticipating Daddy's friend. But it was not him. The voices were unfamiliar, clear and stern. They addressed me by my name.

"We are coming to your home soon. We will ... you in front of your mother, your father and your brother ... hundreds of us ... before we kill you all".

The language they used made the term "gang-rape" sound sophisticated. I couldn't exactly process all the words, but the message managed to terrorize one who was generally referred to as a "tomboy" and "fearless" - me! Perhaps it was their calm and authoritative tone of voice - conveying that they meant business - that got to me.

Who were they? How did they know it was me who had answered the phone, and not my mom, not my sister? Dad looked at my pale face, my shaking hands, and grabbed the receiver. He heard the last bits and pieces and figured what was going on. He yelled at them; they hung up.

The calls didn't stop throughout the day. Each time, they would tear the already scary silence that had pervaded the space of our cozy home. We had no choice but to answer the phone - in anticipation of help from the Police.

In the meanwhile, after trying him for the hundredth time, Dad got DSP Bhadoria on the line. "I will send you some security", he had said.

The security never showed up. But the mob did.

This time, they came with more bricks, as well as torches, in their hands. They hurled the bricks first, broke more windows, jumped over the locked gate and set fire to our car and the scooter. They damaged the electricity panel outside and cut off the supply into our house. And quickly, they disappeared again. They were probably testing if we had any weapons. We didn't and Dad was regretting not having anything to protect his family with.

We called the fire department, in vain.

As soon as we felt safe, we rushed out to put off the flames with the garden hose. None of the neighbours came to help. The street was quiet and deserted, as if nobody lived in that area. It was getting dark and as soon as the fire was put out, we locked ourselves inside, hoping that it was over, still naively thinking that the police and the fire department would show up any minute to help us.

When the realization occurred that we were on our own, we started cooking up some defence strategies if the mob were to show up again. We knew we wouldn't last long. My sister was only 13, my brother 11. Mom was no good to put up a fight. She had never even raised her hands on us.

Running would be an option, but where to and how far? Why weren't the neighbours worried about us? They surely saw the mob the last two times. Why hadn't anybody called to see if we were okay?

All the while, we were hoping that it was over and the government would act by now. They may be a bit slow, but how could they let an innocent law-abiding family be treated like this? After all this was India, the biggest democracy in the world, a country that boasted its secularity and diversity. A country for whose freedom Sikhs had laid down their lives for centuries, first against the Persian, Turkish and Afghan invaders, and then against the British. A country for whose defence they still fight today and sacrifice in an enormously huge proportion, given their small population ratio.

Little did we know that it was the government who was sponsoring this program against its own people. Later, we were to find out that even the Sikh members of the Armed Forces who were riding the trains that day were dragged out and set on fire.

The sun was starting to set and silence of the dark got scarier. Smoke was seen in the distance and occasional telephone rings chilled our bones.

The calm before the storm did not last long.

They were back before long, over a hundred in number this time around, armed with bricks, torches, metal rods and machetes. We were surrounded from the front and the side. Before we knew, some had jumped the gate, broken the front door open and entered the living room. There was another door that separated the living room from the hallway, that led to the bedrooms on each side and the kitchen towards the center back of the house.

Dad yelled, asking us to jump off the back-wall behind the kitchen's courtyard and to run for our lives, while he rushed to shut the hallway door in order to get us some time.

The rebellious teenager that I was, I refused to leave him. I was his strong warrior, the second line of defence. I joined him as he held the door handle from the hallway side, trying to shut it.
We found the mob already at work on the other side. The three young men leading the mob had got hold of the door and started pulling it in the other direction, trying to get to us. We knew it was over for us. We only wanted to delay them so my sister and brother had a chance, and they needed at least one parent.

Blood-curdling screams of "Kill them! Get them!" filled the space, alongwith the glowing light of the torches, the flashing iron-rods and machetes and, above all, the deviously criminal, shining eyes of the mob. The door went back and forth a few times between us.

It was them, the ones who had called on the telephone. I recognized the tone of the voice, the words, even through all the noise. The struggle went on for a little over a minute.
Then, suddenly, I came face to face with the killers, rapists, plunderers ... The scene comes clearly alive even today as I write, this day 25 years after that dreadful day.

Then, something happened, and our bodies switched to survival mode and, together we seemed to be applying a super-human force ... Dad and I somehow managed to shut the door and latch it closed.

Our hands were bruised and seemed to have become one with the door handle, but the struggle gave my brother and sister just enough time to jump off the wall and escape. My weeping and terrified mother was still desperately trying to climb the six-foot-high wall, but kept falling back over to our side.

We picked her up and literally dumped her on the other side in a split second. Dad and I were working in unison, as if we had coordinated each action to the second and practiced the drill several times beforehand.

The poor thing ... Mom fell flat on her belly. And I, most unexpectedly burst into laughter. We didn't know whether I was laughing at the crisis or whether I had gone insane. But later, to my relief, I learnt that nervous laughter is not an unusual response to a sudden shock or crisis.

The ground was much lower on the other side, where the little hut belonging to the neighbourhood Jamaadaars (toilet-cleaning workers) stood. I jumped over next. Helped my mom, dragging her to the home across the narrow street on the left.

I could see the torch-bearing mob slowly trickling into the side street, but at a safe distance. And then Mrs. Jain flashed out of her darkened house, grabbed us, shut the door, shoving and locking me inside her bedroom. I fell to the floor in exhaustion, and then blacked out.

When I woke up, I remember struggling with Mrs. Jain. I was trying to grab a knife from her kitchen to go back outside in order to look for my brother, sister and Dad. She was somehow prepared for it. Perhaps, because she was familiar with my temperament. A few months ago, I had beaten up her son (who was a couple of years younger than I) for harassing my little brother and messing with his patka (turban). When the door bell rang at our house that day and she appeared with her bruised and bleeding son, Vikas, I knew I was in big trouble.

But an educated and cultured lady that she was, she had brought Vikas to my home for us to make truce. When she saw my torn shirt, disheveled hair and scratched face, she made him apologize, for he had raised hands on a girl! When she left, she had a smirk on her face and I, a blush of embarrassment; she had probably not met a rogue like me, nor I ever encountered a classy woman like her. Vikas and I remained good friends thereafter.

As I waited, a "prisoner" in her kitchen on this fateful day in 1984, for a few hours I did not have a clue as to what had happened to the rest of my family. I only knew that my mother was safe.
Where did they go; was Dad able to jump? Did the mob get them? Those few hours of my life were some of the toughest I can recall. Humiliated, hurt and helpless ... I was crying to be let out. What if they were wounded and needed help?

If someone had killed my family, didn't I have a right to go after them? But who would I go after? Deep down, I knew I could do nothing but wait ... yet, I couldn't sit still. My mouth was dry with screaming and it took Mrs. Jain's whole family to keep me there.

Around midnight, one by one, we all finally were united. All five of us intact, but with some minor injuries.

Dad, who did not get an opportunity to cross over the street, was quickly hidden by the jamaadaars in their hut. Fortunately, the mob didn't expect him to be hiding in a vulnerable, insecure hut or perhaps did not want to venture into the dark shack of the "untouchables".

The mother had stood outside, calmly consoling a crying baby in her arms, pretending she hadn't noticed a thing, when a couple of hooligans came looking for us. A small mud wall separated Dad and them; he could hear them questioning her.

The kids were helped by a Christian school teacher in the apartment complex to the right of our house. They had to jump a couple of walls to get there. We all spent the night at Sapan, my Hindu friend's, home, and watched our home from his third floor porch as it smoldered. Not much was left of our car and scooter.

Apparently, since several of our neighbours ultimately realized that their homes were threatened by the spreading of fire, they finally approached the Fire Department, which then turned up and mercifully put out the flames in our house.

It had taken us five years to build our dream house. Dad was busy running his small transport business, often out of town, so he was always behind in his paperwork. When we moved into this place from a 300-square-foot space, it seemed like a mansion. Most of all, we were happy to be settling down for the first time ever in our own home.

We kids had our own bedroom and spacious bathroom and a king-size bed that we were glad to share. I had even my own racks for clothes and books. There was a small garden in the front courtyard, but most precious of all was the flat rooftop with the shade of the giant tree under which my desk stood; my haven.

All I wanted was a quiet spot to read, and that was it! Now, in new-found camaraderie, we could see our haven smouldering, with the smoke merging with other smoke clouds emanating from Sikh homes and businesses across the city of Indore.

The city had a decent Sikh population, a cluster enveloping each of the dozen gurdwaras. Guru Nanak himself had visited the city while on his second major sojourn (between 1506 and 1513 A.D.) and a few of those gurdwaras were historical, protecting the places where he had held discourses, enlightening many. They had been established in the 16th century by locals who had been inspired by him.

Now those very places were being attacked by the locals, perhaps agonizing the souls of their ancestors who had played host to the great Guru.

We learnt later that the two senior bureacrats (Collector and Additional Collector) of the city that day in 1984 - one was a Christian, the other a Sikh) were instrumental in imposing curfew across the city, thus bringing the mayhem and violence within control within a day, which was much sooner than what New Delhi, Kanpur and other cities in the Northern India had experienced.

A total of 26 Sikhs were officially reported to be killed by the mob in Indore and surroundi
ng areas. [The real figures in India are invariably higher than "official counts".] Thousands of businesses, homes and automomobiles were destroyed.

No respectable family ever reports a rape in India; hence, none were talked about, although there were plenty of rumours of rape-suicides. The second day, as news of the curfew order was broadcast, we went back and took a walk through what was left of our house.

The mob had taken everything they could and destroyed the rest. Photographs and sports trophies, the things that mattered to me the most, were burnt or charred. My handcrafted doll that I had made for a craft project was lying there half-burnt, one-eyed, accusing me of desertion.

It was Dad's first home that he owned in his country of refuge - he had fled here in 1947 from the tragedy and mayhem of Partition. It was my last. Refugees and renters - that's what we felt we were in India.

Make something of yourself, get out of this place. This country does not want us anymore", Dad had said, choking back tears, as I looked at my doll.

The seeds of emigration had indeed been sown. Five years later, I would finish my Engineering degree and apply for graduate school in the United States. One by one, the rest of my family would flee that sad land to join me.

Except Dad.

Perhaps he had lost the courage to be displaced again in his lifetime. He was already thrown out of his homeland (West Punjab) when he was a child.

They had arrived in Kanpur empty-handed, along with his extended family - half of them Sikh and half Hindu Bannuwals (of the city Bannu in the Sarhad Province of current-day North West Frontier Province in Pakistan).

A new language, new culture, new country: they had to build their lives from scratch.

I have returned to India a few times since, and every time the plane lands into the inauspiciously named "Indira Gandhi International Airport" at Delhi, the city where thousands of Sikhs were burnt alive, it gives me a queasy feeling.

I want to ask every person in uniform, every taxi driver, every common man on the street: "Where were you in 1984 - in the mob, or hiding in your home, peeping out and watching a neighbour being raped or burnt?"

Then I think of our neighbours - the Jains, who took us in, the Shahs who sheltered us for the night, perhaps risking their lives ... and I stop myself.

Till today, I have not had the heart to visit my birthplace, Kanpur. It was in Shastri Nagar, Kanpur (in Uttar Pradesh Province) that three of my paternal cousins - Harjinder, Bhupinder and Khalsa, aged 30, 25 and 20 - were dragged out of their homes and torched alive, right in front of the eyes of their widowed mother who had raised them singlehandedly through extreme circumstances. Their young wives and a little daughter, too, were made to watch the massacre.

The three months that followed November 1984 in that home in Indore were some of the most humiliating days of my life.

A couple of the thugs from the mob rode by on their bicycles every morning, and again in the evening, perhaps heading home from work, right on the street in front of our house. At times, they would run into me and they would utter the same words I had heard on November 1. Their eyes would brighten up with cruel delight as I would squirm, enraged.

I didn't speak about them to my parents. I knew it was pointless. I did not want to bother them; they were already burdened, rebuilding our lives and livelihood. Besides, who could they complain to? The police?

We had heard by now of how the mob leaders were given positions in the government. Some, clearly identified as criminals, were appointed cabinet ministers in the national government.

How could one seek justice from the very criminals who had committed the crimes? I would often fantasize about killing them, but somehow managed to tough it out for three months.
I jogged a lot and joined judo school instead, taking my wrath out at the opponent on the mat. Two years later, I would win the state championship.

"Deal with it!" I told myself.

We did go to court. The day our case was dismissed for lack of evidence, we all decided that it was time to move on and that pursuing justice was useless.

"Learn a lesson and look forward" has been the motto of my life from then on. I have become real good at running away from negativity.

By February of 1985, four years after we had moved into our much-loved home, we had fixed the damage, repainted it ... and then, said goodbye to it. We rented a small apartment in a Sikh neighborhood which had stayed safe during attacks.

There was a little gurdwara in the neighbourhood and as soon as the residents had heard the news of violence elsewhere on November 1, 1984, they had gathered and organized themselves. They had made a human wall around the neighbourhood and would man it for the next three days and nights. They were a bunch of truckers, ex-armed services men, etc., and hence managed to muster a good bit of arms and hardware, including traditional Sikh artifacts from the gurdwara, to keep the mob at bay.

We were back to crummy quarters, about 500-square-feet of space that we could afford. I would spend the five years of my college studying on the rooftop in the hot scorching sun ... without the shade of my tree.

Nonetheless, it felt safer, with fellow Sikhs around and the shade of the gurdwara - incidentally, built in memory of Guru Arjan.

This is where my longing to connect to my roots began. To be a Sikh had slowly started to have meaning.

Guru Arjan's life and martyrdom itself has a lesson for anyone that is looking for any answers and I was begining to see it - "Tera kiyaa meetha laage, har nam padarath Nanak maange" - "Sweet is Thy Will, O Lord, All Nanak asks for is the Gift of Thy name".

My mom, sister and brother hated the move, for this was far away from the "cosmopolitan" neighbourhood and the good school district we used to live in. They resisted and tried to convince us, saying it was a once-in-a-lifetime incident, but failed to convince the two of us.

My mother was particularly afraid of us falling behind in our education and picking up "uncouth language" from the children of the neighbourhood's truck drivers.

It was my Dad and I who couldn't live in our former "educated" and "civilized" neighbourhood home anymore, because we had come face to face with the worst of humanity. If we were to have faith in the goodness of Man again, we needed to seek it elsewhere.

My Dad needed to get away from his "friend" in the Police, and I from those evil eyes.





Source http://www.sikhchic.com/article-deta...?id=712&cat=21


1947-2014 (Archived)
Re: http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/hard-talk/25149-1984-commemorative-articles-operati

Operation Bluestar - Another Perpesctive By Baldev Singh Published by Gyani Jarnail Singh

S. S. Dhanoa’s Remembering of Operation Bluestar.

Baldev Singh

316 R Glad Way, Collegeville, PA 19426, USA

Let me briefly highlight Dhanoa’s background before responding to his “Remembering Operation Bluestar.” He is a retied IAS officer who was advisor to Indra Gandhi on Punjab and Sikhs. Since 1984 he has been defaming the Sikhs and blaming them for the attack on the Golden Temple and what happened to them in its aftermath over the last two decades. He is a vigorous defender of Indra Gandhi and the Congress Party. His favorite Chief Minister is Beant Singh, favorite cop is KPS Gill and favorite historian is Khushwant Singh, son of Sir Sobha Singh. His venom is directed only against the Akalis, although, there is no difference between Punjab politicians, as they are one and the same representing two sides of a counterfeit coin. Besides, the dominant politicians are interrelated.1 He is a vociferous critic of Bhindranwala, but is silent about his successor, Baba Thakur Singh who still insists that Bhindanwala is well and alive and will appear at the appropriate time! What is the reason? Is it because both Dhaona and Baba Thakur Singh report to the same boss? WhenKPS Gill took journalist Khushwant Singh on a tour of Punjab for propaganda, they stopped at the Dera of Baba Thakur Singh. Dhanoa is a very harsh critic of Khalistanis, but he does not utter a word against their leaders like Jagjit Singh Chauhan, Sohan Singh Boparai and others, why? Is it because it was Indra Gandhi who created the fake Khalistan movement to destroy the vibrant, entrepreneurial and enterprising Sikh community? Is it not a fact that Indian intelligence services recruited criminal and depraved elements within the Sikh community to do the dirty work? Is not it true that it was Jagjit Singh Chauhan who conspired with Lachman Singh Gill at the behest of Congress party to sabotage the Akali ministry headed by Gurnam Singh?2 Both Chauhan and Boparai are physicians. But who recruited whom and the connection between the two remains to be discovered? Both Chauhan and Boparai are living comfortably in India whereas the murderous regime killed thousands of innocent, ignorant and gullible Sikh Youth, who were misled and incited by them. Boparai has been handsomely rewarded for his work¾ his son, Swaran Singh Boparai, an IAS officer¾with no academic experience has been appointed Vice Chancellor of Punjabi University. Swaran Singh Boparai’s father-in-law, the late congressman Swaran Singh held several high rank cabinet positions in the central government. He earned quite a reputation by leading a Muslim delegation to the Conference of Islamic Countries like Omar Abdullah who was the head of Indian delegation to the Conference on Racism and Casteism held in South Africa, two years back. Sohan Singh Boparai’s other son was a prominent Khailstani 3 in California and his wife used to eulogise the sacrifices made by her father-in-law and their family for Khalistan in the now defunct World Sikh News. The first editor of this weekly newsletter was Professor Manjit Singh Sidhu, kuram (in-law) of KPS Gill. It is well known that Indian government agents sabotaged the World Sikh Conference held in New York, July 31, 1984 to denounce and expose the heinous crime¾Operation Bluestar. 4 While the stage was occupied by General Bhullar, Professor Manjit Singh Sidhu, Saran Singh¾editor of the Sikh Review and former IAS officer and advisor to the Governor of Assam and others, the floor was manned by criminals holding naked swords. Others like Professor Pritam Singh of Guru Nanak Dev University were sitting in the audience. It is a mystery how Dr. Gurinder Singh Grewal, a man of few words, all of a sudden decided to publish a Sikh newsletter?

After murdering thousands of innocent men, women and children on June 4, 1984 by attacking Golden Temple and numerous other gurdwaras (place of Sikh worship), the murderous regime turned on the propaganda machine to blame the victims for the attack and what happened to them in its aftermath over the last two decades. June 3rd being a gurpurab (a religious festival), a large number of pilgrims, nearly 10000, had come to stay in the Golden temple complex. Many of them appear to have been killed in army action. 5 The actual number of Sikhs who were killed in fake encounters and in police custody and in jails is not known, as the murderous regime through its machinations has frustrated and thwarted the efforts of human rights organisations to collect the data.6 May be as many as 200,000 Sikhs have been killed in India during the last two decades. 7

Here is a point by point response to Dhanoa’s malicious propaganda.

“The Sikh community led by Jathedars would be observing 6th of June as the ‘Ghalughara divas’ all over the world. My estimate, after collecting all information that I could as Chief Secretary, Punjab, is that about 1000-1200 persons lost their lives at the hands of Indian military. It is bit intriguing that the Jathedars started observance of the day really from last year when officially Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was declared dead and a martyr. It is said that seven to eight thousands Sikhs were killed in what is known as ‘chota ghalughara’ at the hand s of Lakhpat Rai Kapur and the Sikhs lost about thirty thousands lives in February 1762 in what is known as ‘wada ghalughara’ perpetrated by Ahmad Shah Abdali. I am not aware of any observance of these days at the collective community level.”

The exploitation of the blood of the innocent Sikhs by Akalis, SGPC and Jathedars (leader, head of one the five seats of religious authority of the Sikhs) or anybody else is despicable and must be denounced. However, Dhanoa’s comparison of the massacre of Sikhs on June 4, 1984 to ‘chota ghalughara (small holocaust)’ and ‘wada ghalughara (big holocaust)’ is unconscionable. Lakhpat Rai was an avowed foe of the Sikhs, who has taken a vow to eliminate the Sikhs from the face of the earth 8 and Ahmad Shah Abdali was a foreign invader. Moreover, the Sikhs fought against both Lakhpat Rai and Ahmad Shah Abdali. On the other hand the massacre of Sikh men women and children (pilgrims) on June 4, 1984 at the Golden temple and other gurdwaras was carried out by their own government¾the world’s so-called biggest democracy headed by Indra Gandhi¾who in Dhanoa’s words was “sympathetic towards the Sikhs.”

Sikhs do remember not only ‘chota ghalughara’ and ‘wada ghalughara’ but also all others who fought against oppression and injustice and for freedom of conscience and religion throughout Sikh history in their daily prayer¾Ardas (Sikh congregational prayer).

Why the observation of 6th of June as “ghalughara divas (holocaust day” by the Sikh community worldwide upset Dhanoa so much that he was forced to publish malicious proapganda? Is it the evil deeds¾mass murder of the innocent Sikhs and the diabolical campaign to cover the heinous crimes in which Dhanoa participated¾that haunt him?

Second, even the Indian government’s own “White Paper” on Operation Bluestar puts the number of killed at 4712 and arrested at 10000 whereas the Human Rights Group’s figure for the killed is 10000. 9

If Indra Gandhi were sympathetic to the Sikhs then why did she 9a order the attack on June 4th knowing fully well that on that day Golden Temple and other gurdwaras would be filled with pilgrims¾ men, women and children? Couldn’t she order the attack few days earlier or later? Was it Dhanoa’ s advice to her to kill large number of innocent Sikhs to ****** the nose of Sikhs so that they would forget their “bol bale (freedom-consciousness)?”

If Indra Gandhi was anxious to resolve the issue peacefully through Harkishan Singh Surjit, Swaran Singh, Raghunandan Lal Bhatia and many others until 3rd of June then why did she ask General Sunderji to make preparation for attack on the Golden Temple in January 1984.10 Why had the army built replicas of Golden Temple at Chakrata and Sarasawa to train commandos? 11

Who created the Bhindranwala phenomenon? Giani Zail Singh and Sajay Gandhi with the blessing of Indra Gandhi created Dal Khalsa by recruiting Naxalites (communists). 12 Indra Gandhi, Giani Zail Singh and Sanjay Gandhi promoted and projected Bhindranwala as a great spiritual figure and foisted him on the Sikh community. 13 He was installed in the Golden Temple complex by the Indian Intelligence services with the connivance of Tohra and Longowal, who were trying to outsmart each other. 14 How did Bhindranwala stockpile weapons when devotees who visited the Golden Temple to pay obeisance were searched and even striped by a cordon of police and security forces?15

If Bhindarwala was a dangerous man then why wasn’t he arrested? 16 Why Indra Gandhi ordered Chief Minster Darbara Singh to release Bhindranwala when he was put behind bars by the Punjab police? 17 Why President Zail Singh and Buta Singh bowed at Bhindarwala’s feet in public at the bhog ceremony of Jathedar Santokh Singh? Why did not Indra Gandhi fire them? 18 It is well known that Jathedar Santokh Singh was Indra Gandhi’s man. She got rid of him when she found no use for him. He was killed by his security guards from the police department! 18

Why Rajiv Gandhi on a visit to Chandhigarh on May 5, 1984 called Bhindranwale “a saintly man with out political ambition?”19

Indra Gandhi never criticized Bhindranwala till he was dead. 20 Bhindranwala campaigned for Congress-I candidate in Gurdaspur constituency. He delivered a speech before a meeting, which Indra Gandhi also addressed. 20 He also campaigned for other Congress-I candidates including Raghunandan Lal Bhatia. 21

Why did the government use such a large number of troops with tanks and helicopters to capture or kill “a saintly man without political ambition ” and his forty associates? 22 Was there no other way? After all it was the government which put the “holy man” in that situation!

Why seventy-four other gurdwaras were also attacked simultaneously when Bhindranwala and his band were encamped in the Golden Temple complex? 23

Why Baba Thakur Thakur Singh, the successor of Bhindarwala still insists that Bhindranwala is well and alive and will appear at the appropriate time? Was there an understanding between Damdami Taksal and Indra Gandhi that no harm would come to Bhindarnwala during Operation Bluestar?

Dhanoa says that he approached the Patna Takhat urging them to distance from Bhindranwala. It is more likely that he was exchanging information with them as they too like Dhanoa were working for the same cause¾for the success of Operation Bluestar!

For whom was Bhai Kanwar Singh working? Why any Sikh in his right mind would have made outrageous statements: they were at war and gurdwaras were their forts? Wasn’t Kanwar Singh providing justification for the attack on Golden Temple and other gurdwaras? What happened to Kanwar Singh? What is he doing nowadays?

Dhanoa says that Sardar Manmohan Singh has been appointed as the Prime Minister of India on being elected by the Congress Parliamentary Party as their leader. But Dhanoa forgets is that Sardar Manmohan Singh is also the man, who was sent by the Congress government in 1993 to Vienna to represent India at the Human Rights Conference where he made the following statements without blinking an eye:

There are no ethnic people in India. My government recognises no such category. India has only backward sections. India is an open book and there are no violations of human rights in India. 24

It must be pointed out that Indian political parties, whether it is Congress or BJP or Communist or any other, have no qualm spilling minority blood to advance there political objectives. And the Akalis, SGPC, Jathedars and the clergy have no remorse exploiting the spilled blood of innocent Sikhs for their own selfish interests.

Moreover, the Akalis, SGPC members, Jathedars and the clergy, who hold no bar while slinging mud at each other, have not uttered a word on record against Jagjit Singh Chauhan, Sohan Singh Boparai, Surain Singh Dhanoa and their ilk, why? Because people like Dhanoa know too much about the Akalis, SGPC and the clergy. The Jathedar of Akal Takhat and the clergy, who refused to give siropa (robe of honor) to Chief Minster Arminder Singh because he dyes his beard, had no compunction to give it to Jagjit Singh Chauhan when he went to the Golden Temple (Tribune, Chandigarh).

Let me add how Sikh leaders have been created since 1947.


1 Parkash Singh Badal is related to the Kairons, Braras and Ravi Inder Singh. Simranjit Singh Maan

and Captain Arminder Singh are brother-in-laws.

2 Singh, S. The Sikhs in History, 4th ed., 2001, p 345.

3 Ibid., p 452.

4 Singh, B. Deep penetration of Criminals into Sikh Institutions, The Sikh Bulletin, 2002, 4 (5), 12-15;Singh, S. Spokesman, November 2002, p. 14.

5 Jaijee, I. S. Politics of Genocide: Punjab 1984-1998, 1999, p 49.

6 Singh, S. The Sikhs in History, 4th ed., 2001, p 553- 558.

7 Jaijee, I. S. Politics of Genocide: Punjab 1984-1998, 1999, p 103-104.

8 Bhangu, R. S., Prachin Panth Parkash (Punjabi), edited by Bhai Vir Singh, 4th ed., 1962, p 321-322.

9 Jaijee, I. S. Politics of Genocide: Punjab 1984-1998, 1999, p 103-104.

9a Ibid., p 50.

10 Ibid., p 43-46.

11 Ibid., p 43.

12 Singh, S. The Sikhs in History, 4th ed., 2001, p 364, 370-371; Sinha, S, Singh, J. Sunil, Reddy, G.K.C. Army Action In Punjab: Prelude And Aftermath, 1984, p 28.

13 Singh, S. The Sikhs in History, 4th ed., 2001, p 364,., p 364.

14 Jaije, I. S. Politics of Genocide: Punjab 1984-1998, 1999, p 33-34, 42.

15 Ibid., p 35-37.

16 Ibid., p 34.

17 Ibid., p 35.

18 Singh, S. The Sikhs in History, 4th ed., 2001, p 383.

19 Jaijee, I. S. Politics of Genocide: Punjab 1984-1998, 1999, p 40.

20 Sinha, S, Singh, J. Sunil, Reddy, G.K.C. Army Action In Punjab: Prelude And Aftermath, 1984, p 28-


21 Singh, S. The Sikhs in History, 4th ed., 2001, p 371.

22 Singh, S. The Sikhs in History, 4th ed., 2001, p 364,., p 364; Jaije, I. S. Politics of Genocide: Punjab

1948-1998, 1999, p 33-34, 42, 56.

23 Jaijee, I. S. Politics of Genocide: Punjab 1984-1998, 1999, p 42.

24 Ibid., p 222.


1947-2014 (Archived)
Re: http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/hard-talk/25149-1984-commemorative-articles-operati

1984 & I:
The Cartoonistby VISHAVJIT SINGH

This year, 2009, marks the 25th Anniversary of 1984, when horrendous crimes were committed against the Sikhs in the very land of their origin. To commemorate this sad milestone, we at sikhchic.com have asked our regular columnists, as well as our contributors and readers, to share with us the impact 1984 has had on their lives. We have requested personal stories and anecdotes, as well as an attempt to capture their inner thoughts and deepest ruminations on what 1984 means to each one of them and their loved ones - without going into a litany of facts and figures or a listing of the injustices to date, all of which will invariably be covered with due diligence elsewhere. We intend to present these personal perspectives to you throughout the twelve months of 2009. The following is the eighth in the series entitled "1984 & I".

October 31, 1984 was like any other school day, except for the contents of my lunch box. Instead of the usual onion paranthas wrapped in the daily newspaper, there was a change in the menu. I had decided the interiors of the lunch box were the perfect location to sneak in a transistor radio to chew in some live cricket commentary. The Indian squad was visiting Pakistan for a match up in the city of Lahore.

By the time the match started, classes were in session. Along with my friend, I played a delicate dance with the teacher. When the teacher was in long sessions facing the blackboard, the radio came out, glued to the ears. We went back and forth for some time until an abrupt interruption.

Late in the morning, live commentary of the game went off the air and a stern voice announced the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

We were stunned into silence. The match had been cancelled. We did not know what to do with this news. I was not ready to share it with the teacher, so I sat there, trying to digest the news which was about to change our lives.

The lecture went on without interruption. It was not long before someone entered the classroom, had a whispering session with the teacher and then announced that school was suspended for the day. We were to get ready for boarding the buses by the front gates of the school.

On any given day, I would have cheered the news of going home early from school, but not on this day.

I did not know what the day held in store for me. While I boarded the bus along with hundreds of fellow students, rumours were already beginning to swirl around.

Indira Gandhi had been apparently shot by her Sikh bodyguards. That might explain why we were leaving early.

We were students of a private Sikh school owned and operated by Delhi Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

The forty-five minute bus journey through the streets of South Delhi was unusually quiet. Slowly, the bus emptied out as it made stops on the way. My brother and I were among the last to disembark from the bus.

We quietly walked home, knocked on the front door. Our mother could not have been more relieved to see us home. Although she did not know that we were heading home early, she reacted as if she was expecting us.

Now, we waited for my father.

These were the days before owning a phone was an affordable necessity.

As minutes turned into hours, my mother was beginning to panic. By now, it had become public knowledge that the Prime Minister's assassins were indeed her Sikh bodyguards. There was no precedent for such an event, but even as a young boy, I could sense tension in the air.

My father finally arrived in the early hours of the evening with news that disturbances were being reported around the hospital where the Prime Minister had been taken. The evening news was focused entirely on the tragedy at the Prime Minister's residence earlier in the day.

The elder son of the Prime Minister, Rajiv Gandhi, was sworn in as the next leader of the nation. There was no mention of any other events. So we all went to bed that night with the nation officially in mourning.

The morning came and the curtains remained shut. My parents had declared a self-imposed curfew. We were not to leave the house and were to stay away from the windows. I was not sure who we were hiding from, but intuitively knew not to question my parents.

We caught up on the news of the official mourning period in progress, which was in preparation for a grand funeral. It felt like a quiet holiday morning until we spotted police officers from the cracks of our bedroom curtains.

I took a peek, my brother took a peek and our father joined in as well. I remember seeing a khaki-uniformed police officer standing in the middle of the street, right next to our apartment building. He had this long gun pointed in the other direction. A couple of other officers were standing right next to him.

The asbestos roof tops of a local school blocked our view of his intended target. He kept standing for a while, fidgeting with his gun. We were almost losing interest until we saw the cop lie on the ground, still taking aim with his gun in the same direction. Maybe he got tired. He posed like that for a while. No shots were fired and we retreated away from the windows.

I felt a vague sense of relief at knowing these police officers were here to maintain law and order. We felt safe in their presence.

The next half hour or so felt like the intermission of a Bollywood movie. What came next, though, no Bollywood writer could even dream into his script.

There was a slight rumble of feet and sticks hitting the ground. We peeked out of one side of the apartment and saw nothing.

Then, we took a peek from the windows on the opposite end of the apartment. What we saw froze us in our spots.

As far as the eye could squint, there was a long orderly line of men with sticks in their hands marching quietly. As if that was not enough, the same cops we had spotted earlier on the street were guiding the mob of men. Never before had I seen Indians calmly and orderly move through in a line without a word being uttered.

This procession went for a while. Hundreds of men were pouring in from the neighbouring shanty town, heading into the unknown. Unknown to me, at least. These men probably knew exactly where they were headed.

Hours went by with no sign of the men with sticks. After some time, neighbourhood kids, including some of my friends, came out for a little game of cricket right in front of our building.
This whole scene was so outside the realm of my experience or imagination, that I just could not fathom what those men were doing on this day while in the company of uniformed police officers.

Then, came the sequel.

Late in the afternoon, we spotted the mob of men again, this time all straggling back, in clusters, in the direction of wherever they came from earlier in the morning.

Except, this time around, instead of sticks in their hands, they were carrying sacks of wheat, tin-cans of biscuits and bags full of groceries. They all seemed so content and harmless that, after a while, my father made the most stupid decision of his life.

He decided to venture out into the balcony in full view of these men. I still have the crisp vision of this old man on the street, wearing a dhoti and a tank top with a huge can of crackers on his head. With a Gandhi-like body and balding patches of white hair, he seemed so harmless.

We made eye contact and he went his way. We spotted a few others. All with hands full, gingerly making their way towards the shanty town.

Then we spotted this one man on the same street where we had seen the cops in the morning. He was empty-handed. Actually barefooted, he had his rubber flip-flops in hand. The anchor on one of them must have slipped out and he was fixing it. He spotted us.

"Maadar chodh, Sardar!" is the expletive I heard erupt from his throat.

And then, it became a litany and a chorus, arising from the crowd!

We rushed into the apartment. My father locked the balcony door. The insults got louder and more men seemed to have joined the seemingly ****ed-off empty-handed man.

Within minutes we were surrounded. "Maadar chodh, Sardar, bring them down!" seemed to be the chorus now, emanating from the mob.

Then we heard the neighbourhood kids, who had by now left their game of cricket, trying to talk with these men. They were almost screaming, attempting to talk over the men. I actually heard one of them say: "There are no Sikhs here".

"What audacity!" I remember thinking. A young kid, yelling at a man hell-bent on looting, lying to his very face. More insults flew in our direction.

Then one of the kids cried out: "These are government-owned apartments. This is a government-owned shop". That was a fact. We did live in government-owned housing and the apartment below ours was converted into a shop.

By this time, my mother was panicking and my father had us sequestered in his bedroom.
My father was a Sikh version of Woody Allen. The same dark rimmed glasses, a skinny figure with an anxious edge. He had a mean temper but I could not imagine him saying, "Jay marna hi haiga, taa(n) larrh kay mariye" (If we have to die, then at least let's die fighting!).

Even if we had to, what were we going to fight with? Kitchen knives? We formed a circle and started to recite Japji Sahib. I could not imagine death, but fear was beginning to take a tight grip.

The voices now seemed to be fading into the distance.

I cannot remember if we finished reciting the Japji Sahib, but the voices had stopped. I was waiting for a cue. Would the front door come smashing down? Would we suddenly see the faces of those men up close? Screams, insults and then, a confrontation?

We sat through the longest minutes of our lives.

As time passed, so did my imagination began to relax. Once darkness set in and it appeared as if the crisis had blown over, we heard a knock at the door. We waited anxiously ... and silently.
Then we recognized the voice of a neighbour. My father went to the door. Our neighbour, whose sons were good friends of mine and my brother, was checking on us.

His sons and our cricket buddies had pulled off a miracle. They had somehow convinced the mob to turn away. With the sun down, we were not sure if the men would come back now that they knew or at least suspected that a Sikh family resided in the building.

Our neighbour offered us his place for the night. We had a quick dinner. My parents packed a few suitcases with things close to their hearts, and we set out a few steps into the open to spend the night on the gracious floor of our neighbour.

We woke up to a new day. We walked back to our apartment to spend the rest of the day watching, hearing people walk past the body of the slain Prime Minister on television. There was a crush of people surrounding the body, covered in countless garlands. While they paid obeisance, periodic chants filled the airwaves. "Khoon ka badla khoon se laingay" (With blood, we shall avenge blood!).

For the next two days, these chants reverberated on television and in my head. Stories of Sikh men chased by mobs began to trickle in. The ones caught in the fury had kerosene poured on them and then were set on fire.

This would happen a few thousand times before it was all over.

I tried to visualize the image of human skin lit on fire, but couldn't. Until I set my eyes a few days later on the cover of a current events magazine, Surya. The magazine cover had the image of three massive charred lumps of Sikh men who were burnt beyond recognition.

Although that magazine issue was immediately pulled off the shelves on government orders, I still have that image fresh in my head. Apparently the powers to be, in their wisdom, decided the graphic images of the crimes committed against innocent citizens would provoke outrage.

"So the nation was officially sanctioned to only respond to the death of the Prime Minister, by whatever means", I thought.

After the cremation of the Prime Minister's body, when the streets of the capital city became safe for Sikhs, we ventured out and the real extent of the damage became clear.

We found out that all the local businesses owned by Sikhs were looted and reduced to rubble. The local Gurdwara was damaged and the caretakers beaten up. My school's gymnasium was ransacked by a mob and other parts set on fire.

Apparently the mobs that coalesced in our part of the city were not as bloodthirsty.

The story in the Trans-Yamuna areas of the city, far-off places that I have never visited even to this day, saw a very different face of humanity.

We heard story after story of mobs - guided by police, with the express blessings of local members of parliament - that were less interested in looting than in burning alive men and raping women. It was hard digesting these stories and walking out on the streets, where our local mobs had gone on a systematic rampage.

Almost immediately, I noticed Sikhs beginning to pick up pieces of their lives and businesses. Amidst all this information overload, it was hard to know how the nation would respond.

Then on November 19, the new Prime Minister of India addressed the nation. He said a lot of things, but one stood out among the rest. He had the answer to the carnage that followed his mother's assassination. He said: "When a Big Tree falls, the earth shakes".

It was said as a matter of fact, as if we were just supposed to move on. Even before this carnage, I was beginning to realize each human life does not have the same value, but on this day I had a confirmation. As painful as these words were, amazingly, life forces you on.

Within a few months, the local Sikhs - ever resilient and perennially in chardi kalaa - and their businesses were back in action, as if no harm had ever been done to them. Our neighbourhood gurdwara was quickly repaired. My school had also removed all traces of damage.

The industrious Sikhs had done such an impeccable job at cleaning up, they made it difficult for me to memorialize, let alone trace, the enormous brutality let loose in the capital of the most populous "democracy" in the world.

My parents for months seriously entertained the possibility of leaving Delhi for the safer confines of Punjab. But even they were convinced after a few months that things were back to normal.
Their only act of protest was to vote for the first time in their lives in the upcoming elections. They voted for the party standing against the ruling Congress party.

Not being literally touched by the fires of 1984, we moved on.

I finished high school to return back to the land of my birth, the United States of America.

With a typical immigrant sensibility, all I cared about was my career plans.

I went through college, graduate school, taking off my turban, shaving my hair, and dabbled in atheism, Buddhism, Taoism ... and then, eventually, discovered Sikhi for the first time in my life. In August 2001, I donned the Sikh turban as a reaffirmation to Sikhi.

A month later, 9/11 happened!

I was only a few miles north of New York City, as I saw the planes fly into the towers. I was just as far from the Trans-Yamuna area which saw the worst of the 1984 tragedy.

In the days following 9/11, somehow the tragedy of seventeen years past came rushing back. Maybe it was the incineration of thousands of innocent lives that connected the two tragedies. Perhaps it was the irony that a few thousand American lives are worth a quantum leap more than the few thousand Sikh lives in India.

The world changed in response to the loss of American lives and to this day, the process continues. I am inclined to say that nothing changed after the tragedy of 1984, but I would be lying.

To those who lost their loved ones, everything has changed. And even for those who conspired and perpetrated the genocide of 1984, something did change. They might be roaming free under the protection of the Indian state, but they have blood on their hands.

For me, the change came 18 years late. In the strange confluence of the two tragedies, partly aided by the response of American editorial cartoonists to 9/11 and the ensuing hate crime wave affecting many Sikhs, I rediscovered my long buried passion for the arts.

Cartooning has consumed my nights, weekends and many daytime hours for over six years. Armed with a computer touch pad and my right index finger, I have tried to give voice to Sikh aspirations and frustrations.

The 1984 tragedy might be racing to its 25th anniversary, but we do not have closure yet.

Countless perpetrators roam free on the streets of India, many as elected officials.

And then there is us, the countless bystanders who might think we have nothing to do with this tragedy.

But our silence is deafening.

Through cartoons, I continue to try and capture the perpetrators ... and the idle bystanders too!



Source sikhchic.com | The Art and Culture of the Diaspora | 1984 & I:The Cartoonist


1947-2014 (Archived)
Re: http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/hard-talk/25149-1984-commemorative-articles-operati





1984 & I:
The Indian Diplomatby T. SHER SINGH

This year, 2009, marks the 25th Anniversary of 1984, when horrendous crimes were committed against the Sikhs in the very land of their origin. To commemorate this sad milestone, we at sikhchic.com have asked our regular columnists, as well as our contributors and readers, to share with us the impact 1984 has had on their lives. We have requested personal stories and anecdotes, as well as an attempt to capture their inner thoughts and deepest ruminations on what 1984 means to each one of them and their loved ones - without going into a litany of facts and figures or a listing of the injustices to date, all of which will invariably be covered with due diligence elsewhere. We intend to present these personal perspectives to you throughout the twelve months of 2009. The following is the ninth in the series entitled "1984 & I".

June 5, 1984. News of the attack on the Holiest of Holies of Sikhdom - the Durbar Sahib of Amritsar, popularly known as the Golden Temple - stunned the world.

Even more so, it hit each Sikh hard, no matter where he or she lived, regardless of the degree of his or her religious observance or interest in the goings-on in India.

In Toronto, Canada, a young 19-year-old man, Jasbir Singh Saini, was deeply troubled by it and became increasingly agitated as he heard the successive reports on the radio describing the enormity of the outrage committed by Indira Gandhi's government.

I had seen this Grade Twelve high school student in the gurdwara from time to time, but hadn't had an occasion to speak to him. But he was easily identifiable, and easy to remember.

By the time he had heard the fourth such report which, by now, was spelling out news of an all-out massacre of the pilgrims by a full-scale military assault - the attack had taken place on one of the busiest high-holidays, the Shaheedi Gurparab of Guru Arjan - he was visibly troubled and was chomping at the bit to do something, anything.

As rage gripped his young soul, he dressed up quickly to head out on a mission of his own.

A slight figure in a black turban and a youthful beard, he took the subway and emerged at the Yonge and Bloor station in the heart of downtown Toronto.

Towering above him, on the north-east corner was an office tower, adjacent to, and part of a large office and shopping complex showcasing The Hudson Bay Company's sprawling flagship store. Two Bloor Street East.

Jasbir Singh took the elevator up to the twenty-second floor, which housed the Indian Consulate. He entered the reception area.

A drab office replicating a bit of India, it had a reception desk at one end, sporting an Underwood typewriter. A basic coffee table covered with a collection of dog-eared Indian magazines and newspapers, and a few chairs, littered one side. Next to it stood a tall wooden receptacle, with a third of its slots filled with - to use a generous term - "tourist literature". The rest were typically empty.

Crude and primitve "Khira" metal almirahs stood around sombrely, completing the well-cultivated desi atmosphere.

The dismal walls had a portrait of Mrs. Indira Gandhi and Mohandas Gandhi - [the two are not related to each other]. Another wall had a large poster, bravely trying to tout Indian tourism. [Remember, these were the days, though by now the mid-1980s, when India and all things Indian were still stuck in pre-independence, early 20th century mode.]

Jasbir Singh strode in. He ignored the security guards lolling around the reception desk. Stopped before the picture frame with Mrs. Gandhi's mug-shot and scowled at it. He stood in front of it, his legs parted, locking his eyes with hers. His rage had surfaced by now and had begun to overpower him.

Suddenly, with lightning speed, he picked up a chair and smashed it against the picture, shattering the glass. He hit it again and again, as if expecting blood to spurt out from it at any moment. The guards yelled out and rushed to grab him.

He simply dropped the chair, turned around, opened the door and disappeared down the corridor. The commotion had been registered inside the consular offices, which were stacked behind a closed door. A couple of clerks emerged. A guard, barely able to contain his excitement, managed to blurt out what had happened.

A clerk disappeared into the innards of the office. Seconds later, having been assured that the coast was clear, the Consul General of India swung the door open and stormed onto the scene.
Consul General Surinder Malik was a short and stocky man. Though loosely labelled a "diplomat", he was equally disliked by staff and any visitor who had the misfortune of having to deal with him.

He was obnoxious in temperament, uncouth in appearance. Neither the clip-on tie, nor the Delhi-style flip-flops he often wore to the office, did much to add to his stature. He often turned up for work with stubble on his chin. He was also known to freely dip into the consulate's duty-free liquor supply, using the excuse that his job entailed entertaining a lot of iffy characters.

I had had various dealings with him, and often wondered how he fitted into the IFS (Indian Foreign Service) context, since he lacked the usual graces that its members were then widely known to possess. His difficulty with the English language, his crude Haryanvi Hindi, and his tendency to burst into Punjabi expletives when angry, merely fuelled the rumours that his appointment had been through strings pulled by an uncle or nephew somewhere in the right place back in India.

There was also a widely-held belief that he was an "Intelligence" man - though the word clearly was meant to describe his career orientation and not his mental prowess.

A Punjabi Hindu, he had no love to spare for Sikhs. Certainly, therefore, he was no relative to the Malik of Air India fame - a chapter yet to unfold at this point of time.

When he burst into the reception area, it was obvious that he had already been apprised of the situation.

He flitted around the room, staring at one thing, then another, as if assessing the situation.

And then, without warning, he picked up a chair and, holding it firmly in both his hands, began smashing everything in sight with it.

When one of the security guards, a female, returned to the scene - after a futile chase to apprehend the young man who had fled a few minutes ago - she saw an even more bizarre scene unfolding before her eyes.

The other guard and the consular staff had retreated to a corner, as they, too, watched with horror this second madman who had appeared before them within the course of a few minutes.

Surinder Malik was throrough and efficient.

He began with Mrs. Gandhi's portrait, and went at it until the frame disintegrated and the damaged face fell to the floor.

Then he went for the old man Gandhi's picture, and did the same with it.

Legs had fallen off the chair in his hands. He crashed it heavily on the coffee table, and picked up another chair.

And then went around the room - well, like a wild bull in a china shop, if I may be forgiven the cliché.

He tackled the tourism poster, the reception desk, the metal almirahs, the coffee table again, and then the bare walls.

He yelled out at his staff and chided them for merely looking on. When they joined in the mayhem, he screamed: Jaldi, jaldi! Hurry, hurry! Before the saala media arrive!

They picked up the other chairs and threw them around until they were all broken.

He stood back, and surveyed the scene. Kicked at the magazines and newspapers until they lay scattered around the floor.

Dusted his hands. Walked over to the telephone. Called 911 and, in a frantic voice, demanded police help: "We've been attacked", he spat into the receiver, feigning distress and terror.

More of the staff had emerged from the back offices. They stood around, with Malik almost literally foaming at the mouth, pouring out four-lettered abuse in Punjabi to no one in particular. It didn't take long for the police to turn up.

Mr. Surinder Malik, Consul General of India, personally spoke to the Metro Toronto police officers and described in great detail how this young Sikh man had gone on a rampage, destroying everything within sight.

The police officers took copious notes.

Metro Toronto Police are undoubtedly amongst the best in the world ... I should know: I was a Police Commissioner and have been a police critic for a few decades now.

Not surprisingly, it didn't take them long to track down the young man.

When they turned up at his door, he readily accepted his guilt.

And explained, without hesitation, what he had done, and why he had done it.

He confessed to having smashed Mrs. Gandhi's picture. That's it. No more, no less.

He was charged with Mischief, a Criminal Code Offence.

But the investigating officers were troubled by some of the other stuff Mr. Malik had told them in his sworn report.

To begin with, the officers were convinced of Jasbir Singh's sincerity. He had been forthright in all of his answers and had held back on nothing.

But one other thing intrigued them even more:

Jasbir Singh had only one arm. The other was not only completely missing, but its absence was routinely hidden by him in an empty shirt-sleeve. The guards at the Consulate offices had failed to notice this fact. And neither Mr. Malik nor his staff were aware of this.

The officers went back to the scene of the crime and it didn't take them long to determine that it was impossible for a young man, slight in stature and with an arm missing, to cause the damage Mr. Malik claimed Jasbir Singh had caused, within the timeframe each witness had reported.

They dug deeper.

And here's what they obtained:

A sworn statement from one of the security guards - who was employed by a private security company and merely contracted out to the Indian Consulate - declaring that she had personally witnessed Indian Consul General Surinder Malik destroying the portraits and damaging the furniture. Convinced by now that there was much more than met the eye, the officers launched a full-fledged investigation. And, lo and behold! There was another witness.

Dana Lewis, a radio reporter, had clued in on the emergency call on his wireless police monitor, and had rushed to the scene ... to see Mr Malik personally on a rampage in his own reception area! When confronted with the evidence, Surinder Malik claimed diplomatic immunity.

As a result, he went scot free: he could not be charged by the police.

And Jasbir Singh? The charges against him were dropped because neither Mr. Malik nor any of the consular staff was willing to testify against him in open court. It would shed Malik's diplomatic immunity, and the lawyers could tear them apart under cross-examination.

And India's Consul General, Surinder Malik?

After a short and convenient lapse of time - and after considerable encouragement from Canada's Foreign Affairs and the Policing community - he was quietly pulled back to Mother India.
But not until he had committed a few more crimes.

He is now suspected of having been heavily behind the Indian intelligence operation which resulted in the bombing of Air India Flight 182 on June 23, 1985. And in the massive campaign of misinformation which spewed out from the Indian Consulate Office in Toronto thereafter. Four other facts you need to know about Surinder Malik:

Surinder Malik's wife and daughter were booked to fly on Air India Flight 182. At the last moment, Surinder Malik called the Air India office and cancelled their reservations. The reason he gave for this later: his daughter, unexpectedly, had to give a school examination.

Siddhartha Singh, a senior bureaucrat visiting the Indian Consular Offices in Toronto from India - he was Head of North American Affairs for External Affairs Relations Division of the Government of India - was booked to return to India on the ill-fated Flight 182. He was with Surinder Malik a few days before the crash on "official business". Suddenly, Surinder Malik cancelled his seat on the flight, again "at the last minute". Siddhartha flew to Brussels instead.

Surinder Malik had a close friend of his - a car dealer in Toronto - cancel his reservation on the same flight, a few days before it took off from Toronto.

And, when the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) realized that Surinder Malik and his Consular cohorts were providing them misinformation pertaining to the Air India Flight 182, the CSIS "forbade its operatives to contact Indian agents. It had concluded that the Indian intelligence agents were more of a threat to Canadian security than a helping hand to Canada's domestic spy service." [Soft Target - see below.]

How do I know all of this? From the horses' mouths - the intelligence operatives who had to report to Surinder Malik, but hated his guts; from police officers involved at difference stages of the saga; and from key media persons who have followed the shenanigans of the Indians from day one.

And, if you are one of those who still believes that the Indians were and are the good guys and innocent victims through all of these goings-on, and that Canada's Sikhs are the trouble-makers, check out an account of that whole period, put together by two of Canada‘s top journalists with impeccable credentials:

Soft Target: How the Indian Intelligence Service Penetrated Canada, researched and written jointly by The Toronto Star Reporter Brian McAndrew and The Globe & Mail Reporter Zuhair Kashmeri. Lorimer Books, Toronto, 1989, 151 pp. ISBN-10: 1550282212 , ISBN-13: 978-1550282214. [I believe the book has gone into further editions since and is still available.]

Postscript: The media reported the story as an attack by a Sikh on the Indian Consular Offices, virtually destroying its outer offices. There was never any reportage, however, of Surinder Malik's hand in the crime - even when the facts became fully known to the police, the government and the media.

February 20, 2009

Source sikhchic.com | The Art and Culture of the Diaspora | 1984 & I:The Indian Diplomat


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1984 & I:
A Darkness Unforgottenby RAHUL BEDI

This year, 2009, marks the 25th Anniversary of 1984, when horrendous crimes were committed against the Sikhs in the very land of their origin. To commemorate this sad milestone, we at sikhchic.com have asked our regular columnists, as well as our contributors and readers, to share with us the impact 1984 has had on their lives. We have requested personal stories and anecdotes, as well as an attempt to capture their inner thoughts and deepest ruminations on what 1984 means to each one of them and their loved ones - without going into a litany of facts and figures or a listing of the injustices to date, all of which will invariably be covered with due diligence elsewhere. We intend to present these personal perspectives to you throughout the twelve months of 2009. The following is the eighteenth in the series entitled "1984 & I".

The denial of party election tickets to Congress leaders Jagdish Tytler and Sajjan Kumar is little recompense to the over 3,000 Sikhs who died in the Delhi pogrom following then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's assassination in October 1984.

The wave of ethnic cleansing that raged unchecked for nearly three days across the country after Mrs. Gandhi was shot dead by two of her Sikh bodyguards on the morning of October 31 ended in Delhi only with her funeral, the state's crazed blood-lust satiated at last. Whilst unbridled chaos and mayhem spread unchecked across the capital, the casual slaughter of some 350 Sikhs, including women and children in the trans-Yamuna Trilokpuri resettlement colony, was without doubt the most brutal.

The charred and hacked remains of the hundreds that perished in Trilokpuri's Block 32 on a smoky and dank November 2 evening bore silent testimony to an unbelievable orgy of slaughter which, over two decades later, still haunts my memories. Time has not made them fade.

The massacre took place in two narrow alleyways not more than 150 yards long, with one-roomed tenements on either side. It lasted over 48 hours, with the murderers - who go unpunished to this day - even taking breaks for meals before returning to resume their mad slaughter.

Both lanes were littered with bodies with body parts and hair brutally hacked off, forcing people to walk on tiptoe. It was impossible to place one's foot fully on the ground for one would step on either a hacked limb or a dead person.

The entire area was awash with blood, some liquid, some clotted. Blood-gorged flies buzzed lazily, sated. The blood did not flow down the drains, as they, too, were now choked with human body parts.

It all began on the morning of November 2 around 11.30 am when my colleague from Indian Express, Joseph Maliakan, and I heard of the Trilokpuri massacre - then ongoing - from Mohan Singh, who had shaved his head and face only hours before to save himself and had fled, taking refuge in our office canteen.

A dazed Mohan Singh, who had somehow managed to escape the pogrom under cover of darkness, blandly told us that 300 Sikhs had been killed in Trilokpuri's Block 32. These houses, we learnt later, were occupied by poor Sikhs who wove string beds.

Shortly after, along with Maliakan and Alok Tomar of Jansatta, I rushed to Trilokpuri and, on arrival at the re-settlement colony - which was established by Sanjay Gandhi during the Emergency in the mid-1970s - found the entrance blocked by massive concrete pipes, with lathi (stick) wielding men atop them.

At about 300 yards from Block 32, we found our path blocked by a huge mob. Before we could reach them, two policemen astride a motorcycle burst through the crowd, coming from the direction we were headed. We flagged the motorcycle to a halt and asked the head constable driving it whether any killings had taken place in Block 32.

Smiling sardonically, he told us that "shanti" (peace) prevailed. On persistent questioning, he admitted that two people had been killed in Block 32. As we proceeded down the narrow road towards Block 32, our car was blocked by the mob.

It turned nasty and began stoning us.

A spokesman for the crowd, a short, vicious-looking man dressed in a white kurta and pyjama, told us to leave or be prepared to "face the consequences". Block 32 was out of bounds, he said flatly.

Hurriedly backing out under a barrage of rocks, we headed for the nearby Kalyanpuri police station and asked the duty officer whether any trouble had been reported from Trilokpuri's Block 32. He, too, echoed what his motorcycle-borne colleagues had said, that the area was calm, that shanti prevailed and that no deaths had been reported from the police station's area of responsibility.

A truck parked nearby attracted our attention. On closer inspection, we found three charred bodies in the back and a half-burnt Sikh youngster lying on top, still alive. In his quasi-conscious state, the man told us he was from Punjab and had come visiting relatives in Trilokpuri.

He said that a few hours earlier, a rampaging mob armed with lathis and machetes had killed his hosts and set him on fire after dousing his body with kerosene. He had been brought to the police station, placed on top of the dead bodies, and had lain there for the past six hours. He died a horrible death soon after, we later learnt.

When the three bodies in the truck and the grievously burnt yet still living Sikh were pointed out to the station duty officer, he denied all knowledge of them, saying they would be dealt with by "Saheb", the Station House Officer, who was "away in Delhi on routine business and would return later in the evening".

Desperate to get help, we combed the area and were met by an army patrol commanded by a Sikh colonel, part of the detail summoned from Meerut to bolster civil authority who assured us that he would dispatch help to the beleaguered Block 32.

We returned to Block 32 only to discover that no troops had arrived.

Later, we came to know that, though the army had officially been summoned a day after Mrs. Gandhi's killing to maintain order, it was merely token deployment, as none of the units summoned from cantonments around the capital were provided necessary help, guidance or logistical direction by the local authorities.

The army was not issued shoot-to-kill orders to quell the blood-thirsty mobs till after Mrs. Gandhi's funeral pyre was lit on November 3, despite claims to the contrary by officials, which were dutifully headlined by newspapers.

Once those orders were given, the army restored order within hours, although for many days there were cases we investigated which revealed that the local authorities had deliberately concealed reports of pockets of Sikh refugees still fighting for survival across many east Delhi neighbourhoods.

After pleading in vain with many military convoys to intercede and stop the Trilokpuri killings, we arrived at the Police Headquarters around 5 pm and informed Additional Commissioner of Police Nikhil Kumar (who later retired as head of the National Security Guard) of the goings-on in the east Delhi colony.

To our chagrin and amazement, he asserted that he was a "mere guest artist" at Police Headquarters and only tasked with manning Commissioner SC Tandon's telephone line. All our pleadings to Kumar - now an MP from Bihar - to do something about the Trilokpuri killings were insouciantly brushed off. Other senior police officers including those in charge of the Trilokpuri district also expressed indifference and their inability to help.

On returning to Trilokpuri an hour later in the darkness, we found the local Station House Officer and two constables surveying the sea of dead Sikh bodies, surrounded by thousands of people.

The most frightening part, the part that still sends a chill up my spine after 25 years, was the pall of utter silence that shrouded the area.

Not a sound emanated from anyone as, by the light of a few hurricane lanterns, we walked dazed and wordlessly down the alleyway littered with bodies. Halfway down was a young polio-afflicted woman holding a child in dumb silence, all emotion drained from her.

Her blank, uncomprehending eyes looked at us sightlessly in what we took to be a plea for help. Quietly, we lifted her and the child and handed them over to the police party, never to see them again.

A faint whimper from inside the same house led us to a young Sikh whose stomach had been slashed open two days earlier. He had managed somehow to tie a turban around his gaping wound, crawl under a pile of bodies and survive. All that the handsome scooter rickshaw driver wanted was water. He died hours later, before he could reach a hospital.

A three-year old girl, stepping over the bodies of her father and three brothers amid countless others lying in the street clung helplessly to one of us, pleading for help. "Please take me home," she quietly said, standing knee-deep in corpses in what was the only room of her house.

Police arrived in force more than 24 hours after the Trilokpuri massacre was revealed by the Indian Express on November 3, the day of Mrs. Gandhi's funeral.
By the time they got there, there was nothing to protect. And no one.

In the 25 years since then, we eyewitnesses deposed before innumerable inquiry commissions, culminating with the one headed by Justice Nanavati. However, not one of those really guilty ever ended up being punished for the state-sanctioned pogrom of 1984.

[Courtesy: Tehelka]
April 22, 2009


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1984 & I:

This year, 2009, marks the 25th Anniversary of 1984, when horrendous crimes were committed against the Sikhs in the very land of their origin. To commemorate this sad milestone, we at sikhchic.com have asked our regular columnists, as well as our contributors and readers, to share with us the impact 1984 has had on their lives. We have requested personal stories and anecdotes, as well as an attempt to capture their inner thoughts and deepest ruminations on what 1984 means to each one of them and their loved ones - without going into a litany of facts and figures or a listing of the injustices to date, all of which will invariably be covered with due diligence elsewhere. We intend to present these personal perspectives to you throughout the twelve months of 2009. The following is the 24th in the series entitled "1984 & I".

A toe curls in subconscious revulsion. She wipes a clammy palm against a crushed hankie, clears a choked throat and speaks:

"I was 18 years old, a mother of a five-month-old daughter, and two months pregnant with my second child when they killed my husband."

On November 1, 1984, a mob surrounded Badal Singh, stabbed him, put a tire around his neck, doused him in kerosene, and set him ablaze.

[The Hindu mob, led by identifiable politicians, proceeded with obvious immunity from the police and the authorities.]

Twenty-five years later, his widow, Lakhwinder Kaur, still shudders when she thinks of that morning. "I was told my husband screamed in agony as he died."

Bhai Badal Singh, a raagi (devotional singer) at Gurdwara Pulbangash, was one among several thousand innocent Sikhs murdered [in broad daylight in the streets of India's capital, New Delhi] in just three days in November 1984.

Lakhwinder was at her village when she heard the news. She collapsed, gaining consciousness only intermittently over the next two weeks.

Twenty days later, Lakhwinder returned to Delhi with her daughter, vacated their old home, and went from house to house, taking shelter with relatives and friends for three months, until she moved into a one-room tenement.

Sewing, her only skill, allowed her to survive.

"My aim everyday was just to be able to buy milk for my baby daughter," she says.

Her parents urged her to remarry, but the 18-year-old would not budge. Her life now belonged to her children. "I didn't think I could get anyone more handsome than my husband," she says, breaking into a smile.

In 1987, Lakhwinder was allotted a two-room house in west Delhi's Tilak Nagar and employed as a peon in a government organization.

"I lived like a queen before the 1984 riots," she says. "Now, I live like a servant."

When a movement seeking justice for 1984 began, Lakhwinder joined it, convinced that the guilty would be brought to book.

"I want to know how Tytler's wife will feel if he is untraceable for a month," she says. "It seemed easy for [former Prime Minister] Rajiv Gandhi to say, 'When a giant tree falls, the earth below shakes.' Our trees were felled and we can still feel the tremors."

[Courtesy: Tehelka]

May 15, 2009






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  • twins84-strip1-Jan16-09.gif

Above: detail from "1984", a painting by Amrit & Rabindra Kaur Singh. Copyright: The Twin Studio.


1947-2014 (Archived)
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OPERATION BLUESTAR': The untold story Sunday 4th of June 2006
Citizens for Democracy
Investigation Team : Amiya Rao, Aurbindo Ghose, Sunil Bhattacharya, Tejinder Ahuja and N.D.Pancholi

"Operation Bluestar" and "Ghallughara". Two different terms for the same episode - the Army action on the Golden Temple in June 1984. Two different meanings given to the same unprecedented event. "Operation Bluestar" in the Government's term, connoting a necessary military operation to flush out terrorists and recover arms from the Golden Temple.

The implication being that it was an unavoidable cleansing act of purification. Where as "Ghallughara" is how the Sikhs of Punjab remember the episode, connoting aggression, massacre and religious persecution. The unmistakable allusion is to the killing in Punjab of tens of thousands of Sikhs by the Afghan raider, Ahmed Shah Abdali in 1762 after which the word "Ghallughara" was coined to become an integral part of the Punjabi folklore.

The contrast between "Operation Bluestar" and "Ghallughara" as two different perceptions of the same reality is symptomatic of the wide gap between the official version and the people's recollections of what really happened at the Golden Temple when the army attacked it in June 1984. Listening to the gripping eye-witness accounts of those who were inside Golden Temple at that time, we felt the need to tell the truth, the as-yet untold story and in the process to correct the Government's version as put out by the Army, the Press, the Radio, the T.V. and the White Paper.


Who were the eyewitnesses to the Golden Temple episode?

1. Devinder Singh Duggal - In charge of the Sikh Reference Library located inside the Golden Temple complex. Duggal is an acknowledged authority on Sikh history. He used to reside in a house adjacent to the Sikh Reference Library, was present there between May 28 and June 6, 1984 and hence (in his own words) "an eye-witness to some of the atrociities committed by the Army during its attack on the Golden Temple". About fiftyish, Duggal now lives with his lecturer-wife in Jallandhar, where we interviewed him. His eyes become moist and his voice quivered as he described the assault on the Golden Temple.

2. Bhan Singh- Secretary of the S.G.P.C., short, slim, in his mid fifties, Bhan Singh is a man of few words. He was present in the Golden Temple Complex during the Army attack and was arrested at dawn on June 6 along with Longowal and Tohra from the Guru Nanak Nivas which now houses the SGPC Office, where we met and talked to him. His account begins from June 3, 1984.

3. Giani Puran Singh - one of the priests at Harmandir Sahib.

4. Girl Student - Grand-daughter of SGPC member, she preferred to remain anonymous. Aged about 20 years, she goes to college at Amritsar. She went to the Golden Temple on May 29, 1984, with her grand-parents and an aunt, to fulfill a vow, and was there until June 6. We met her in Amritsar in the house of a widowed victim of the November 1984 Delhi violence.

5. A.I.S.S.F. Member - about 25-years old, he would not give his name, son of a police officer, he was visiting the Golden Temple in June 1984 for the Gurupurab and was there from June 1. He was arrested by the Army on June 6 but released in October. He was rearrested soon after and had been again released a little before we met him. Remarkably calm and soft spoken, he said that there were about 100 fighters with Bhindranwale inside the Temple Complex and less than 100 arms, mostly, 303 guns of the II World War. Extremely handsome, he is a member of the All India Sikh Students Federation.

6. Prithipal Singh - A young (24 years) Sevadar at the Akal Rest House, inside the Guru Ram Das Serai, Golden Temple complex, where mostly distinguished guests stayed. He was on duty throughout the period of the Army Operation. He narrated how he had a hair-breadth escape, even after being lined up before the firing squad on June 6, after he had been arrested, stripped naked and his hands had been tied behind his back with his turban. He showed us the bullet-ridden walls of the Akal Rest House, where we spoke to him.

7. Joginder Singh - an employee of the S.G.P.C. whom we met at the Golden Temple.

8. Surinder Singh Ragi "Patna Sahib Wala" - Head Ragi (singer) at the Harmandir Sahib, we met the young man (about 35 years) outside the Information Office of the Golden Temple, He was in the Kesari (Sochre) roles of a priest. He was on duty at the Harmandir Sahib during the Army action. He is an extremely popular singer of 'Shabads' from the Gurbani and his tapes are on great demand. He spoke to us with great conviction. "The Guru taught us to resist atyachar (represssion), not to do atyachar".

9. Baldev Kaur - an Amritdhari woman in her mid-thirties, she had come to the Golden Temple on June 2, 1984 for the Gurupurab with her husband (Puran Singh who is now in Kapurthala Jail) and three children from her village Khanowal in Kapurthala district. She was so calm and fearless when she described her tribulations. She is facing severe economic hardships, cultivating only two acres of land, having no regular source of income since her husband's arrest more that 9 months back.

10. Harchan Singh Ragi - one of the Hazuri Ragis who sings at the Harmandir Sahib, he is in his late fifties. With serene eyes and flowing white beard, he has an endearing touch. He was on duty at the Harmandir Sahib singing 'kirtans' when the Army shelled it very early morning on June 4. Born into a Hindu Brahmin family, he was orphaned at the time of partition, and then adopted and brought up by Amrik Singh, the blind Head Ragi of the Golden Temple who was killed inside the Harmandir Sahib on the morning of June 5. We met him at the Information Office of the Golden Temple, and he lives just above it. Raminderpal Singh - an innocent boy - one of his sons, is detained at Jodhpur Jail as a 'terrorist'.

Some of the details of the life in Amritsar at the time of the Army action, were provided to us by the relatives of a few of those who were captured from the Golden Temple after the army operation, as 'terrorists' accused of 'waging war against the State' and who are now being tried under the Special Courts (Terrorists) Act at Jodhpur Jail. It is the Jodhpur detainees who are eye-witnesses to the Army operations in Amritsar in June 1984, not the relatives we met. But some of their evidence was passed on to their relatives in the course of brief meeting in jail from time to time. We met the relatives of:

(a) Kanwaljit Singh - A 20-year-old student of Khalsa College (evening) Delhi, whose father (Satnam Singh) runs a provision store at Lawrence Road, Delhi. Kanwaljit Singh visted the Temple with his friend on June 2, wanted to return to Delhi the same afernoon, but found that the last train had left Amritsar. And so he was forced to stay at the Guru Ram Das Serai inside the Golden Temple Complex. After Army action, he was arrested by the Army from the Serai and later charge-sheeted with 378 others as 'terrorists' and detained under the N.S.A. We spoke to his youger brother, Inder Mohan Singh, at Delhi.

(b) Jasbir Singh and Randhir Singh - Two brothers who went to Golden Temple, separtely, on June 3 to pay their respects. As Jasbir Singh was coming out after fulfilling his vow on June 3 at about 1:30 p.m. on the side of the Chowk Ghan ta Ghar, he was detained along with other youths by the C.R.P. The C.R.P. made them take off their shirts, tied their hands behind them and made them sit on the hot road outside the Information Office. Randhir Singh was staying in a room in Guru Ram Das Serai, belonging to their uncle (a member of the SGPC) from where he was arrested on June 5. Randhir was injured by bullets on his leg. We spoke to their father, Harbans Singh Ghumman, about 55 years a farmer and former MLA belonging to village Ghummankala , district Gurdaspur.

June 1, 1984 - Pieceing together the evidence of various eye-witness and also second-hand socurces, such as Kirpal Singh, President of the Khalsa Dewan, Amritsar and S.S. Bhagowalia, advocate at Gurdaspur and Vice-president for the Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (Punjab), the following picture emerges as to what happened at Golden Temple from June 1, 1984. It is really amazing how, except for some minor details, the accounts of different persons interviewed separately tally so closely with regard to the date, the time and the description of incident June 1, 1984. The AISSF Member, Duggal, the girl student, Sevadar Prithipal Singh and Baldev Kaur all said the the Golden Temple was fired at by security forces from the outside for the first time on June 1 itself, not June 5 as claimed by the White Paper. According to the AISSF member, "At 14.40 in the afternoon of June 1, suddenly the CRP without provocation started firing, aiming at the people inside the Parikarmas. There was no firing, from inside the Golden Temple. The firing by the C.R.P. was on the Harmandir Sahib and the Manjih Sahib. The firing continued till about 8 p.m." Sevadar Prithipal Singh added that the shooting which started from outside, was not preceded by any warning.

Devinder Singh Duggal's account is extremely detailed and lucid. "By the end of May, it was widely known that the Army is going to attack the Golden Temple, and on that account there was tremendous tension in the entire city and its surrounding areas. The worst fears of the people came to the surface when on 1st June, the security forces which had besieged the Golden Temple for months together and had made strong fortifications on the multi-storey buildings all around it, suddenly started firing inside the Golden Temple. The firing started at 12.30 p.m. and continued for a full 7 hours. What was worse was that Harmandir Sahib was made the main target of this firing. I took shelter along with my staff behind the steel almirahs of the Library, one of the bullets pierced through three almirahs and landed on the fourth and we had a narrow escape."

Duggal continues - "Not a single shot was fired from inside the complex. When I asked some of the boys as to why they did not answer the firing, they replied that they were under strict orders of the Sant not to fire a single shot unless and until the security forces or the Army entered the holy Golden Temple. In the evening, when I heard in the news bulletin that there was unprovoked firing from inside the Temple, but that the security forces showed extreme restrain and did not fire a single shot, I was surprised at this naked lie. The very fact that as many as eight persons, including a woman and a child had been killed inside the Golden Temple complex and there were as many as 34 big bullet wounds on all sides of the Harmandir Sahib completely belied the Government's version. I asked Bhan Singh, Secretary, S.G.P.C., to do something to refute this falsehood. He said that nothing could be done because all links with the outside world had been snapped."

According to the girl student, a curfew was clamped soon after the firing started. She confirmed the killings - "Authorities had said none had died, but I dressed the wounds of 3 men who died later in front me in Guru Nanak Nivas." That the curfew was lifted soon after the firing stopped as indicated by the AISSF member, who said, "after the firing stopped, at about 8.30 p.m., a group of people (Jatha) courted arrest."

There is no doubt then that security forces (C.R.P.) fired on the Harmander Sahib on June 1 itself and the news over the A.I.R. saying that there was unprovoked firing from inside was a blatant lie. However, most official versions maintain a meaningful silence about the happenings of June 1. For them, as for example, with the Government's White Paper, the story begins on June 2 with the Government of India deciding to call in the Army in aid of civil authority in Punjab, with the object of "checking and controlling extremist, terrorist, and communal violence in Punjab, providing security to the people and restoring normalcy." How much security the Army succeeded in providing to the people and how much normalcy, they were able to restore, is however, another matter.

June 2, 1984 - Duggal was relieved when "fortunately, on 2nd June a team of five reporters including Mark Tully of B.B.C. came there (Golden Temple) and were told the truth . They were taken around the Golden Temple and shown 34 big wounds caused by the bullets on all sides of the Harmandir Sahib, some of them as big as almost 3" in diameter."

"The 2nd June passed off peacefully," according to Duggal, because there was no firing and no curfew, while Baldev Kaur said it was 'quiet'. A large number of Sikhs came to the Golden Temple from the surrounding areas along with their families as the next day, June 3, was the Guru Parb or the martyrdom day of Shri Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth holy Guru of the Sikhs.

The peace and quiet was only on the surface, because active preparations were afoot to break the peace. Kanwaljit Singh and his friend Manjit Singh from Delhi visited Golden Temple on the morning of June 2 and found that there was no restriction for pilgrims to enter Amritsar or even the Temple. But the exit doors out of Amritsar were being closed. After visiting the Temple, when Kanwaljit went at noon to the Amritsar Railway Station to catch a train for Delhi, they were told that the last train had already left and that the Flying Mail in the evening would not be leaving. In fact they were told all outgoing trains had been cancelled. So Kanwaljit and Manjit were forced to return to the Golden Temple and put up in the Guru Ram Das Serai for the night. Thus was Kanwaljit to miss his interview at Delhi with the Institute of Bank Management on June 3 morning and his examination with the State Bank of India the same afternoon.

The AISSF young man said that the C.R.P., outside the Golden Temple was replaced by the Army on the night of June 2. Although there was no formal curfew, and all visitors entering the Temple were allowed to come in without any ado, all those who left the Golden Temple on the night of June 2 were being taken into custody. "I did not therefore leave the Golden Temple complex", said the A.I.S.S.F. member revealing his caution

June 3, 1984 - According to the AISSF member, "Guru Parb was on June 3. About 10,000 people had come from outside including many women and 4000 of them were young people. Those who were inside were not allowd to go out after 10 p.m. on June 3. The Jathas which had come mainly from Sangrur were not allowed to court arrest."

Bhan Singh confirms: "June 3 being Guru Parb, thousands of pilgrims had come. But suddenly there was a curfew, so the pilgrims and the 1300 Akali workers who came to participate in the Dharam Yudh Morcha and to court arrest could not leave. The Akali Jathas consisted of about 200 ladies, 18 children and about 1100 men and all of them along with the thousands of pilgrims were forced to stay back inside the Temple complex. Most were living in Guru Ram Das Serai, some at Teja Singh Samundri Hall."

The girl student remembers, "On June 3, at 6 o'clock in the evening we came to know that Punjab had been sealed for 48 hours and that even cycles would not be allowed on the streets."

Kanwaljit Singh sent a telegram home to Delhi at 8.05 p.m. on June 3 from the Golden Temple Post Office "Coming after curfew". It means that the curfew was 'reimposed' (Duggal's word) between 8.05 p.m. and 10 p.m.

No one inside the Golden Temple had yet realized the sinister plan of the authorities. Punjab had been sealed. Thousands of pilgrims and hundreds of Akali workers had been allowed to collect inside the Temple complex. They had been given no inkling or warning either of the sudden curfew or of the imminent Army attack. It was to be a Black Hole-type of tragedy, not out of forgetfulness but out of deliberate planning and design.

June 4, 1984 - Duggal's recollection are vivid, almost photographic. "At about 4 a.m. in the early hours of the morning of June 4, the regular Army attack on the temple started with a 25-pounder which fell in the ramparts of the Deori to the left o f Akal Takht Sahib with such a thunder that for a few moments I thought that the whole complex had collapsed. I along with my wife were then sitting in the verandah of my house adjacent to the Sikh Reference Library. Recovering from the initial shock, we moved into the room and took shelter in one of its corners. Thereafter, every second the ferocity of firing increased and it continued unabated till the evening of the 6th June.

As we were on the first floor, and our quarter was open on all sides our position was very vulnerable. The bullets hit our quarters on all sides and some of them pierced through the doors and landed inside the room. To add to our miseries the power and water supplies had been cut. Through a slit in the shutter of a window we saw a large number of dead bodies in the Parikrama of the Golden Temple. They included women and children. We could not leave our room. Coming out in the open would have exposed us to sure death."

Baldev Kaur's account of how the Army attack began is similar - "Very early on June 4, while it was dark, there was cannon fire from outside the Golden Temple without any warning. Shots were fired from all sides."

Bhan Singh is emphatic that no warning was given, no public announcement was made by the Army before the shelling of the Golden Temple started on June 4 - "had the army given a warning at least those pilgrims who had come for the Guru Parb could go out and then those person who were simply here to participate in the Dharam Yudh Morcha could go out. But no warning was given to the people. The firing was started from all around the complex with vengeance; as if they were attacking on alien enemy country."

According to the girl student, the shelling started at about 20 minutes past 4 o'clock on June 4 dawn and continued without interruption up to 2 o'clock in the afternoon of that day (June 4), and evening of June 5.

Her account is extremely graphic - On June 4 at about 3:30 a.m. we were inside the Harmandir Sahib reciting our prayers. Suddenly, there was a black-out in the whole of the Golden Temple complex. The devotees continued to be immersed in worship. At about 20 minutes past 4 o'clock there was a very loud explosion. We felt that the whole of the Golden Temple complex was shaking. I was alone on the balcony overlooking the lake or sarovar. Suddenly something roundish fell in front of me. I was curious. So I gently touched it and pushed it into the water. As it fell, there was a big noise and then the water rose and splashed into the Harmandir Sahib. I started reeling, once tilting on one side and again on the other. Someone pulled me inside. The explosions continued. We then realized that the Army's attack on the Golden Temple had begun." In a flash she described her companions - "Inside the Harmandir Sahib there were about 50 to 60 persons - some granthis (priests), ragis (singers), sevadars (employees), the rest of them yatris (pilgrims or visitors) like me and my family. I did not see any armed terrorist."

The Army fired from all sides and did not spare any target in the Temple complex which seemed to shelter people. According to Prithipal Singh, the Sevadar on duty at Akal Rest House, deep inside the Guru Ram Das Serai, the Akal Rest House was shelled from the side of Gali Bagh Wali (to the left of the main entrance from the side on chowk Ghanta Ghar) at 5 a.m. on June 4. The bullet marks on the walls, the doors, and windows of the side rooms of the Akal Rest House bore silent testimony to the Sevadars story, as we listened to him in May, 1985, almost one year after the shooting.

The Harmandir Sahib was not spared by the Army on June 4, just as it had not been by the C.R.P. on June 1. According to the girl student, bullets hissed past her and her grandmother and aunt when they crawled across the bridge on their stomachs in their bid to escape from Harmandir Sahib. She managed to pick up a portion of a shell which had exploded on the bridge near Harmandir Shaib - it was marked 84 mm., and it had two colours, yellow on the upper part and blue on the lower part.

Baldev Kaur's account suggests that there was no immediate counter-fire from inside the Golden Temple complex. The A.I.S.S.F. member said that "there was some stray firing from inside the Golden Temple before the Army's entry into the complex" ;. The girl student provides a comparative picture of the magnitude and intensity of firing from outside the Temple and from inside. "The firing that took place from inside the Golden Temple was negligible. On June 1, there was absolutely no firing from inside. Whereas on June 4, the ratio was something like this - if a thousand rounds were being fired by the Army from outside, then about one or one and a half rounds were fired in reply by the armed militants from inside the Temple complex."

Meanwhile, according to Duggal, "the helicopter hovered above and continued to fire from above. Some of these helicopters also guided the firing squads of the Army by making a circle of light around the targets. Immediately after these circles, the cannon bell would land on the target causing havoc. We saw a large number of boys blown to pieces."

According to Bhan Singh, "they (the Army) treated the inmates of the Complex as enemies and whenever there was any person wounded on account of the firing, no Red Cross people were allowed to enter, rather the Red Cross personnel had been detained beyond the Jallianwallah Bagh," - more that a kilometre away from the main entrance to the Golden Temple from the Chowk Ghanta Ghar side. In accordance with the U.N. Charter of Human Rights, the Red Cross is permitted to go in aid of the wounded right inside the enemy territory, but in Amritsar in June 1984 the Red Cross was not allowed to enter the Golden Temple - a respected and hallowed part of our country- in aid of Indians under attack from the Indian army. It only means that the attack was so brutal and the battle scene so grisly, that there was much to hide from the public scrutiny, even if it be that of a neutral agency called the Red Cross. This also explains perhaps why Press Censorship had already been imposed, the last of the journalists were hounded away and the Press was not allowed inside the Golden Temple up to June 10 when they were taken on a guided tour of the Complex for the first time since the Army Operations began almost a week before.

June 5, 1984 - The firing and counter-firing continued. Harcharan Singh Ragi saw his guardian and mentor - the old completely blind Head Ragi of the Golden Temple, Amrik Singh being shot by a bullet and dying inside the Harmandir Sahib at about 6.30 a.m . on June 5.

This was the respect shown by the Indian Army to the Harmandir Sahib! The White Paper issued on July 10, 1984 adopts a holier-than-thou attitude - "Specific Orders were given to troops to use minimum force, to show the utmost reverence to all holy places and to ensure that no desecration or damage was done to the Harmandir Sahib..." (Para 10) and once more "In spite of this (machine-gun fire from Harmandir Sahib on the night of June 5) the troops exercised great restrain and refrained from directing any fire at Harmandir Sahib." All this is propaganda. We have recorded the truth - the Harmandir Sahib was fired at by the C.R.P. on June 1 and there were 34 bullet marks on it which were shown to Mark Tully of the B.B.C. the next day. When the Army attacked the Golden Temple at dawn on June 4, the Harmandir Sahib was the target of destructive shelling and on June 5 two Ragis - one Amrik Singh, blind, 65-year-old - a singer of devotional songs and another Avtar Singh were killed by bullets right inside the Harmandir Sahib. Perhaps the White Paper was doing an exercise in sarcasm and irony when it stated: "the troops exercised great restraint and refrained from directing any fire at Harmandir Sahib."

Meanwhile, the girl student and her companions had managed to come away from the Harmandir Sahib, crawling on their stomachs across the small bridge. They were bundled into a room on the ground floor of the Akal Takht. They kept sitting there, having nothing to eat and no water to drink. To continue, in her own words, "Helicopters were encircling the Temple from above. After the helicopters completed their circle, at about 11:30 a.m. on June 5, the huge water tank inside the Temple complex was fired at. The tank could not be broken even after the initial 10 shells hit the tank. Then one bomb hit the tank after which it burst and all the water gushed out. The fighters who had taken their positions beneath the tank were killed.

"They continued the firing till the evening of June 5 and then it was about 8.30 p.m. It was completely dark when they entered accompanied by very heavy firing. The blasting was so severe that I thought that I had reached some other world.

"We were 40-50 persons huddled together in the room, including women and children, even a child of six months. In the next room were the pilgrims who had come on June 3 to celebrate Guru Parb but they had been trapped."

"The upper portion of the Akal Takht had been fired at by the Army and completely destroyed. Pieces of the Guru Granth Sahib were flying in the air and littering the ground. The place seemed to have been transformed into a haunted house.

"Then the tank entered. It had powerful searchlights. I thought the ambulance had come to attend to the dead and injured. But it had turned out the opposite. The tanks went riding past us. From the tanks the announcement came, loud and clear: "Please come out, God's blessings are with you. We will reach you home absolutely safe and sound," There were some among us who were frantic for some water, they came out in the open. In the morning I saw the dead bodies lying on the Parikrama. This was the worst kind of treachery."

The A.I.S.S.F. Members narration of the events of June 5 has a somewhat different emphasis - less personal reflection and more of detached observation. On June 5th at about 8 p.m. the Army entered the Complex through the Ghanta Ghar side under heavy cover fire. The road was blocked. Nobody was allowed to come out of the Complex. The Army entry was not preceded by any warning of announcement asking the people to surrender. "There was some stray firing from inside the Golden Temple before the Army entry into the Complex. But the real resistance began only after the Army entered the Temple. The order from Bhindranwale was to use limited firearms with discretion. There were only about 100 people to fight and there were less that 100 arms consisting mostly of .303 rifles used in the World War II, 315 guns and a few stenguns. When the army entered, the ammunition was nearly exhausted. "After mid-night, at about 1 a.m. one armoured carrier and 8 tanks came inside the complex. The tanks had powerful searchlights and they came down the stair-case, and the Army surrounded the langar building." Even 11 months afterwards, we could still see the marks of the tanks on the Parikrama.

Duggal's account is also informative. By the evening of June 5, he and his family had managed to move to the house of the Giani Sahib Singh, the head priest of Golden Temple, which is about 25 yards away from the house he had earlier taken shelter in. In Duggal's words, "The night between the 5th and 6th was terrible. The tanks and armoured carriers had entered the Golden Temple Complex. The firing was such, that its ferocity cannot be described. In the early hours of June 6th, we learnt that the holy Akal Takht had been completely demolished in the firing. As devoted Sikhs, we were extremely shocked. Tears flowed through the eyes of everybody there. All through the night we heard the heart rending cries of the dying persons."

Giani Puran Singh, a priest at the Harmandir Sahib also an eye-witness remembers - "At 7.30 p.m. on 5th I went to Sri Akal Takht where I met Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale with who I had a long satisfying talk while shots were ringing outside. Gyani Mohan Singh, whose duty was to conduct REHRAS (Evening Prayer) had not been able to reach Harmandir Sahib, due to the shooting. I then came down from the Akal Takht and joined some "Singhs" in a morcha and enquired of them whether Gyani Mohan Singh had passed that way. As per the tradition the 'Rehras' at Akal Takht starts 5 minutes later than at the Harmandir Sahib, but that day Path at the Akali Takht had already started. Upon this I rushed towards Harmandir Sahib amidst gunfire, stopping for a breather at the Darshani Deori. On reaching I started the recitation. Meanwhile, Gyani Mohan Singh also reached the place. We were about 22 people in the Harmandir Sahib, some devotees and others the employees of the Gurudwara. By the time the path was over the firing outside became more intense. 'Sukhasan' of Guru Granth Sahib was done and then taken upstairs. At 10.00 p.m. the tanks started entering the complex and a barrage of shooting from without became more intense as heavy armour began to be used. At this stage an armoured carrier entered and stood beside the Sarovar. The lights on the carrier, when switched on, bathed the whole complex in bright light. We were viewing all this perched in the main dome of Harmandir Sahib and thought that probably the fire brigade had come to get water for extinguishing fires raging throughout the city. But we were proved wrong when this vehicle came down to the Parikrama and stared firing. From both sides the tanks started closing in, from clock tower to the Brahm Buta the tanks set fire to all rooms while desperate people collected water from the Sarovar to extinguish the fires. Loud cries and wails of both women and children filled the air. A vigorous battle ensued and the Darshani Deoris of Clock Tower and Atta Mandi along with the Serais (rest houses) was in Army control by 10 o'clock, the next day (June 6). The 40-50 youth who had been holding the forces fought bravely till either they were killed or the ammuniton was exhausted. From about 10 in the night till 4.30 the next morning we were on the roof of Darbar Sahib."


These accounts of what happened at the Golden Temple on June 5 are in marked contrast to the white paper or the army's common charge sheet to the 379 alleged 'terrorists' captured from Golden Temple now detained under N.S.A. at Jodhpur.

According to the White Paper: " All Commanders were instructed to continuously use the public address systems for a number of hours at every suspected hideout of terrorists to give themselves up in order to prevent bloodshed and damage to holy places before the use of force for their apprehension." Was this actually done? Our eye-witness accounts prove that it was not. Regarding the Golden Temple, the White Paper is also specific, "During the afternoon and evening of June 5 1984 repeated appeals were made to the terrorists over the public address system to lay down their arms and surrender and to others inside the Temple to come out, to prevent avoidable bloodshed and damage to structures in the Temple Complex. In response to this appeal 129 men, women and children came out and they were handed over to the civil authorities." Is it possible to believe this version? We have seen how the Army started shelling the Golden Temple without any warning or public announcement from the early hours of June 4. They continued this firing throughout June 4 and 6. The militants also fired in reply but they were no match, either in terms of numbers of men or in amounts of ammunition. How could the Army make 'repeated appeals' during the afternoon and evening of June 5 when intense fighting was going on and how could 120 person come out during this raging battle?

The Army's version, as revealed by its chargesheet to the 379 alleged 'terrorists' detained at Jodhpur Jail, is even more incredible. On June 5, when they were supposed to have been deputed for duty outside the Golden Temple, the Army had the information that "the extremists/terrorists led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale had collected men, arms, ammunitions and explosives within the Golden Temple and had also made other preparations to wage war against the Government of India with the intention to establish a State independent of the Government of India to be known as Khalistan". Or in other words, Khalistan was to be established at the Golden Temple and if the A.I.S.S.F. member is to be believed, by about 100 fighters equipped mostly with 303 decrepit guns of the II World War, a few 315 rifles and some stenguns. S. S. Bhagowalia an advocate at Gurdaspur and Vice President of the Associtation for Democratic Rights (A.F.D.R. Punjab) investigated and found that Bhindranwale's supporters numbered no more that 140-150. It is strange that the White Paper has nothing to say about the Khalistan flag - a country without a flag! But the White Paper says that Khalistan was to be established at the Golden Temple. According to the Army's chargsheet and also the White Paper, in response to the Army's repeated appeals to the Terrorists to lay down their arms and surrender, they opened intensive firing from inside the Complex. "They were shouting anti-national slogans." This was a battle not a demonstration. How could 'terrorists' engage in shouting anti-national slogans at a time when they were allegedly using automatic and semi-automatic weapons, grenades, explosives, etc? Even if they did shout these slogans how could the slogans be heard over the noise of rattling stenguns and automatic rifles?

The White Paper also describes how the library was allegedly gutted on the night between June 5 and 6 - "Troops were able to enter the area around the Sarovar through the northern deori and the Southern library building. Terrorists were in control of the Library building and fired from there. At this stage, the library caught fire - the Army fire brigade was rushed but their attempts were failed by the machine-gun fire from the terrorists." A perfect brief for the Army!

But according to Duggal who was in charge of the Sikh Reference Library and who cared for it, the Library was intact when he last saw it on June 6, evening while leaving the Temple Complex. However, he was in for a terrible shock when he was brought back to the Temple complex by the Army on June 14. Let us listen to Duggal's tale of sorrow as well as courage: "On 14th June 1984 I was arrested by the Army and taken inside the Golden Temple, where I was shocked to see that the Sikh Reference Library had been burnt. The entire Golden Temple Complex presented a very, very painful look. It bore at least 3 lakhs of bullet marks. The Akal Takht was in shambles. Guru Nanak Nivas, Teja Singh Samundri Hall, Guru Ram Das Serai and the langar buildings had been burnt. When I left the Complex on 6th all those buildings were in good shape in spite of the Army Attack, Taken to the Library's ruins, I was asked by the Army Col. to take charge of the Library. I asked him as to where is the Library. He said that I had no option but to sign a typed receipt to the effect that I have taken over the charge of the Library. I refused to oblige him saying that I would not tell such a big lie."

The White Paper is very emphatic the "Troops were particularly instructed not to wear any leather items in holy places and to treat all apprehended person with dignity and consideration." What was the reality? The reality was this:-

June 6, 1984 - " At 2 a.m. on June 6", says Prithipal Singh, Sevadar, at the Akal Rest House, "the Army people came to the Rest House. They tore off all my clothes, stripped me naked, my kirpan was snatched, my head gear (patta) was untied to tie up my hands behind my back. They caught me by my hair and took me along with five others - who were all pilgrims - to the ruins of the water tank, there we were told, "don't move or you'll be shot." They kept hitting us with the rifle butts. Then a Major came and ordered a soldier, shoot them, then shouted at us, "You must be Bhindranwale's Chelas? You want Khalistan? I said "I am here to do my duty. I have nothing to do with all this." "Six of us were in a line facing the Major, when a Pahari soldier started shooting from one end, killing four of us (with 3 bullets each). As my turn was coming, suddenly a Sikh Officer turned up and ordered, "Stop Shooting". Thus I was saved. The Sikh Officer was told, "these people have ammunitions". At that he ordered them to lock us in a room. Two of us were locked up in a room in Guru Ram Das Serai, but we did not talk nor did I ask the other man's name. On 7th June the door was opened at about 8 or 9 in the morning. We had gone without water. The floor was covered in blood. I was allowed to leave." This was then the 'dignity and consideration' which the White Paper had claimed was shown to those apprehended by the Army. Bhan Singh picks up the thread of the story at about 4 a.m. on

June 6. "I was arrested along with Sant Longowal and Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra early morning on the 6th. We were encircled by the Army people, throughout the day from 4 a.m. till 5 p.m. when Sant Longowal and Jathedar Tohra were taken to the Army Camp, but I along with many others was kept inside the compound of Guru Ram Das Serai. We were taken away to the Army Camp at about 9.30 p.m." Even on this point of arrest of Longowal and Tohra, the White Paper has a totally different version - "At 1.00 a.m. on June 6, Sant Harchand Singh Longowal and Shri G.S. Tohra surrendered near Guru Nanak Niwas with about 350 people. The terrorist opened fire at them and also lobbed hand grenades to prevent surrender. As a result, 70 people were killed including 30 women and children." Even Longowal is on record that he and Tohra were arrested at 5 a.m. from Guru Nanak Niwas (where the S.G.P.C. Office is now located) and kept there in Army custody the whole day. Neither he nor Bhan Singh talk about surrendering to the Army nor do they refer to the killing of 70 people including 30 women and children, by "terrorists" at the time of their surrender. Should we believe Bhan Singh (and Longowal) or would we blindly accept the White Paper's Version?

On the morning of June 6, as the girl student opened the door of their small room and "came out to fetch water, what did I see but piles of dead bodies, all stacked one over the other. At first I instinctively felt that I wouldn't manage to go out . All I could see was a ceaseless mount of dead bodies. It seemed that all the persons who were staying in the Parikrama, not one of them had survived... The Army said later that they did not go inside the Golden Temple wearing boots. But I have seen some of the dead bodies of the Army men in uniform - they were wearing boots and belts." The White Paper is contradicted once more.

The girl student's narration continues. It is an amazing and astonishing account of how she accidentally met Bhai Amrik Singh, Prsident of the A.I.S.S.F. and Bhindranwale's close associate. She had not met him before but once he told her his name, she recognized him at once because his pictures had come out in the papers. How Amrik Singh gave her some water in a bucket which she gave to her relatives and acquaintances, but she could not bring herself to drinking it because it was red, mixed with blood. How Bhai Amrik Singh sent her a message urging her to leave the Temple Complex at once with her group in order to escape being dishonoured or being shot dead as 'terrorists' by the Army personnel, and also to survive to tell the true story of what happen ed inside the Golden Temple to the world outside. She recounts in breathtaking detail how she picked up the courage to first come out of the Complex and then bring out her relatives and acquaintances.

To quote her own words - "So I decided to try to find the way out. There was a man lying dead. I had to place my foot on him. My foot touched sometimes somebody's had, sometimes somebody's body. I had to move in this fashion. There is a staircase next to the Nishan Saheb (outside teh Akal Takht) and next to it there was an iron gate, which had got twisted because of the shelling. I pulled the gate and came out, there was nobody. The place was deserted. The doors of the houses were shut and locked from outside. I was in a haze. For I saw the locks and yet I kept shouting for shelter. Then I came to my senses, realizing that the inhabitants had locked their houses and gone away. Then I broke the mud patch in the wall of a house and entered it. One o f the doors of this house opened out into the Golden Temple. I went back to the temple through this door. I found a wounded man who relayed my message to my grandmother through other wounded persons, that I had managed to come outside, she should also come out. By then the room in the Akal Takht building, where I had taken shelter with my grandmother was already in flames. The 20-25 people in that room came out with much difficulty and reached the place where I was. The house had been sprayed with shells and bullets and there were gaping holes in the walls. We found a water tank in that house which had escaped destruction, unlike the water tank in the Golden Temple complex. First we all drank water from that tank. We met an injured man who had also taken shelter in that house. He asked us to go with him to his house. We accompanied him. He made us change all our blood-soaked clothes; some we washed clean."

The narrations of Bhan Singh, Harcharan Singh Ragis, Giani Puran Singh and the girl student tear apart the White Paper that the Army had been instructed 'to treat all apprehended persons with dignity and consideration', and also that 'no women and children were killed in the action by the troops.'

Bhan Singh remembers- "On the 6th morning when hundreds of people were killed or wounded, everywhere there were cries of those people who were wounded and injured but there was no provisions for their dressings and there were no Red Cross people within the complex... Many young people aged between 18 and 22 years were killed and so were some ladies. A lady carrying a child of only a few months saw her husband lying before her. The child was also killed on account of the firing. It was a very touching scene when she placed the dead body of the child alongside her husband's body. Many people were crying for drinking water, but they were not provided any. Some had to take water out of the drains where dead bodies were lying and the water was red with blood. The way the injured were quenching their thirst was an awful sight which could not be tolerated. The Army people were there, moving about mercilessly without showing any sign of sympathy with those injured or wounded. Those who were under arrest were not provided any facility of water or food or any other thing of that sort. The clothes of those who were arrested were removed and they were only left with shorts-their turbans, shirts, etc. were all removed and heaped together. Such a brute treatment was given to them, as if they were aliens and not the citizens of the country to which the forces belonged."

Harcharan Singh Ragi similarly recounts- "My quarters are on the first floor above the information office and it was unsafe, with the firing going on endlessly, to stay there. Four members of the family of Narinder Pal Singh, the Information Officer who also lived on the same floor as us and we five took shelter in the basement of the Information office building. On the 6th of June, between 12 noon and 5 p.m., the Army announced that people should come out. This was the first announcement given since the Army operations began. All of us in the basement volunteered arrest and the Information Officer and myself showed our identity cards as employees of the S.G.P.C. As we were coming out, we saw that hundreds of people were being shot down as they ca me out. We saw many women being shot dead by the commanders. I also would have been, but for my little girl, Jaswinder Pal Kaur (Anju), rushing to the Army Commander and begging to save her father's life."

And now let us listen to the girl student once more- "On June 6 at o'clock in the evening, they announced a relaxation in the curfew for one hour. Meanwhile, we went through some devious lanes and managed to take shelter in a house which was some distance form the Golden Temple. The Army people announced that everyone should come out. So we came out."

"There were about 27-28 persons with us, 5 of them ladies, some elderly men, the rest young boys. The Army made all of us stand in queue. There were 13 boys out of which three I claimed to be my brothers. I did not know them from before. I merely wanted to save them. I don't know why, perhaps because they thought the 3 boys were part of our family but the Army released these three boys. They went away. Out of the remaining male youths, they picked out four and took off their turbans with which they tied their hands behind their backs. Then the Army men beat these 4 Sikh boys with the butts of their rifles till they fell on the ground and started bleeding. They kept telling the boys all along, "you are terrorists. You were coming from inside. You were taking part in the action. You will be shot." These boys were shot dead right in front of me. They looked completely innocent. Neither they seemed to know how to use a rifle, nor did they seem to know the meaning of 'terrorism'. They were shot before my eyes. Their age was between 18 and 20 years. I did not know who they were - circumstances had brought us together by chance. Whenever I recollect that scene, I seem to lose my bearings.

"Then they (the Army people) surrounded me and started questioning me. I told my grandmother not to speak a word to them as they were speaking only with bullets. I asked them whether they had come to protect us or to finish us. I said my grandfather was a colonel in the Army... The Army man... in charge then asked his colleagues to leave me and my family members. He told me to go away quickly. And so we were saved."

Giani Puran Singh narrates- "At 4:30 a.m. on June 6, Guru Granth Sahib was brought down. PRAKASH done and the Hukumnama taken, the kirtan of Asa-di-vaar started. This kirtan was not done by the appointed Ragi Jatha (Hymn singers) but by members of Bhai Randhir Singh Jatha, one member of which Avtar Singh of Parowal was later martyred inside the Darbar Sahib. The official Jatha of Bhai Amrik Singh had been martyred at the Darshani Deori the previous day. Bhai Avtar Singh was hit by a bullet which tore through the southern door, one of which is still embedded in the Guru Granth Sahib which is there since Maharaja Ranjit Singh's time. Time passed and at 4:00p.m. on June 6, some poisonous gas was spread and the Akal Takht captured, if not for this gas the forces could not have been able to gain the Akal Takht. At 4:30 the commandant, Brar spoke from a speaker on the Sourhtern Deori that all living people should surrender. All those who had come face to face with the forces had been eliminated. We (I and Gyani Mohan Singh) asked all the 22 within the Darbar Sahib to surrender and told the commanding officer that two priests had stayed behind and if need be, he could send his men for them. He did not agree with them and called aloud on the speaker that we should come out with raised hands. We decided against this because if we were shot on the way it would merely be a waste. We were in the Darbar Sahib till 7:30 when two soldiers and a sewadar were sent to fetch us. While on our way out I stopped to pour a handful of water in the mouth of the wounded member of the Jatha, who asked us to send for help. I promised to do so provided I remained alive. Gen. Brar, meanwhile announced over the loudspeaker that nobody should fire upon us. The moment I stepped out of the Darshani Deori, I saw the Akal Takht ruined and the rubble was spread all around. Hundreds of corpses were lying scattered. We were wished by Gen Brar who told that he too was a Sikh. He then enquired as to what did we propose to do. We told him that we wanted to go to the urinal and then be allowed to go to our residences. He allowed us to go to the urinal and then we were questioned of the whereabouts of Sant Ji and were told that he would not be harmed. We told them that they knew better as they were in command. We were questioned, whether any machine-gunnists were operating from Darbar Sahib to which we said that they were welcome to inspect the premises themselves. Five persons accompanied us to the Hari Mandir, one Sikh officer and 3-4 other s. When we started the Sikh officer insisted that we lead because if firing started from within, we would face them, moreover we would be shot if someone shot from within. When we reached the Harimadir, a search was carried out by them, picking and searching below every carpet but no sign of firing was traced. Meanwhile the wounded member left behind had passed away. His body was placed in a white sheet, brought out and placed along with various others lying outside."

According to the A.I.S.S.F. member, "on 6th June at 5:30 p.m. we surrendered before the Army. 199 surrendered before us. We were made to lie down on the hot road, interrogated, made to move on our knees, hit with rifle butts and kicked with boots on private parts and head. Our hands were tied behind our backs and no water was given to us. We were asked 'how many people were inside? and 'where are the arms and ammunition?' At about 7 p.m., we were made to sit in the parakrama- near the Army tanks. There was firing from the side of the Akal Takht and many were injured." This is yet another convincing evidence of the dignity and consideration shown by the Indian Army to those captured, after the action was over.

June 7, 1984 - Giani Puran Singh's account throws light on how and when Bhindranwale was killed: "Time passed away and at 7:30 a.m. on 7th we were taken out of the complex and informed that the bodies of Santji, Gen Subeg Singh, Bhai Amrik Singh, had all been found. When asked as to where were the bodies found, the reply was that Sant Ji's body was recovered from between the 2 Nishan Sahibs while Amrik Singh and Shubeg Singh's bodies had been found behind the Nishan Sahibs. The news carried by the media said that Sant Ji's body had been recovered from the basement in Akal Takht. We were not shown these bodies but were led to our residences by the military. The head priests who also came there were informed that the bodies of Sant Ji and others had been found. In fact, if the bodies had been found, we would have been called for identification but instead we were threatened to be shot lest we tried to go near the rooms where they had been kept. Moreover, if found, the body would have been embalmed taken to Delhi and kept for some time before finally dispersing it. The White Paper's version of the events is distorted and not convincing. For example: "By the morning of June 6, the troops had effectively engaged all gun positions at the Akal Takht and were able to enter the Akal Takht. Room-to-room engagement commenced till it was cleared by 12:30 p.m. on the afternoon of June 6, except for resistance continuing from the ground floor and basements... On the afternoon of June 6, 200 terrorists surrendered including 22 from Harmandir Sahib." Giani Puran Singh who was one of the 22 has clearly said that the 22 persons who had surrendered from inside Harmandir Sahib were 'some devotees and others the employees of the Gurdwara'. Thus there were no armed terrorists inside the Harmandir Sahib- 50-60 persons-cited by the girl student and the same figures-of 22 persons-given by all other eye-witnesses and also the White Paper. The fact that the girl student accompanied by 27-28 persons left the Harmandir Sahib on the afternoon of June 4 amidst the firing and took shelter in the Akal Takht explains the discrepancy in figures.

The White Paper also claims that "On 8th June 1984, the terrorists hacked to death an unarmed army doctor who had entered a basement of the Akal Takht to treat some casualties." Giani Puran Singh's account gives an accurate description of this incident: "There were 4 Singhs in the basement of the BUNGA JASSA SINGH RAMGARHIA who were giving a tough fight to the forces. They had also pulled down 3 personnel of the army who had ventured close-one of them was a so called doctor. They were swiftly put to death., The authorities wanted these people to surrender but they wanted some mutually responsible person to mediate. I was then asked to mediate but first of all I asked the army offices of a guarantee that none would be shot only arrested and later law would take its own course. They were not ready for this and wished me to talk to the Brigadier who too was noncommittal. They then asked me to inquire if the three army personnel were alive. The reply received was that no live personnel was there in the base-At this the Brigadier asked me to leave and that they would themselves deal with them. These men in the basement fought the whole day, that night and also the next day when Giani Zail Singh came to visit the ruins of Akal Takht. Some thought that they had also aimed for Giani but it was not so. These people did not know that Giani was coming. If they knew before hand, they would definitely put a bullet through the 'tyrant' but they were totally cut out from the outside world. A colonel of the commandos attempted to flush out these men in the basement with a gun and light arrangement but as soon as he entered the basement, a burst of LMG wounded him and it was later learnt that he had succumbed to the injuries in the hospital. 2 cannons were employed to fire at the Bunga, gaping holes were formed on the Parikrama end but the men within were safe. I saw from the roof of Harmandir Sahib that two grenadiers, had been put on the grenade shooter and a continuous barrage of grenades was being poured but they still survived. Burnt red chilly bags, chilly powder and smoke granades were thrown in; one of them came out to be greeted with a hail of bullets while the others finally were silenced on the 10th."

Similarly the White Paper's account of the amount of arms recovered seem to be patently exaggerated. We may not accept the A.I.S.S.F. members version that there were less than 100 arms, mostly obsolete .303 guns from the II World War and some stenguns, on the ground that it may be a partisan account. At the same time it is not possible to believe the White Paper's version - "A large quantity of weapons, ammunition and explosives was recovered, including automatic and anti-tank weapons. A small factory for the manufacture of hand grenades and sten-guns was also found within the precincts of the Golden Temple." If this modern arms factory had been discovered inside the Golden Temple before the Army Operations began there would have been no room for doubt or controversy. But making such a claim after the Army operation was over. Only there was the Army to testify. In contrast, our eye-witness have repeatedly pointed out that the terrorists had a small number of men and limited arms which had to be used sparingly. Would the resistance have collapsed so abruptly, if there were hundreds of terrorist manning a modern arms factory, as claimed by the White Paper.

The White Paper's figures of the number of people killed or injured at the Golden Temple during the Army operations, seem to reflect a gross under-estimation and understatement. The White Paper's figures of the casualties on account of the Operation Blue star alone are:

1. Own troops killed 83
2. Own troops wounded 249
3. Civilians/terrorist killed 493
4. Terrorists and other injured 86
5. Civilians/terrorists apprehended 592

Our eye-witness accounts point out two unmistakable facts:

(a) There were thousands, perhaps ten thousand people, consisting of pilgrims, S.G.P.C. employees, Akali volunteers who came to court arrest, and terrorists present inside the Golden Temple complex when the Army started firing at the Golden Temple from all sides on the dawn of June 4.

(b) The battle lasted nearly 56 to 60 hours from 4 a.m. on June 4 to about 4 p.m. on June 6. The firing was almost incessant and continuous and, despite the White Paper's several claims, had no constraints. It was a most fierce battle.

Therefore, not hundreds but thousands could well have died during the operations, and thousands maimed or injured. The girl student had seen stacks and stacks of dead bodies piled up all over the parikrama very early on the morning of June 6. Joginder Singh estimates that at least 1500 dead bodies were lying on the parikrama. Bhan Singh saw hundreds of people dying before him on June 6. Harcharan Singh Ragi saw hundreds of people including women and children, being shot down by Army commandos, as they came out to surrender on the afternoon of June 6 outside the Golden Temple on the Ghanta Ghar side. We may hesitate to accept exact figures such as A.F.D.R. Vice President S. S. Bahagawalia'a estimate of 2009 killed including about 400 Hindu Bhaiyyas or the AISSF members estimate "that 7 to 8 thousand people were killed" or Surinder Singh Ragi's confident assertions that 'during the Army operation at least 7000 people were killed on the parikrama and another 1000 dead bodies were recovered from various rooms." These are all impressions. There is no reliable estimate because the Press was not allowed.

Nevertheless the clear conclusion emerges that hundreds and hundreds of people were killed during the Army Action on Golden Temple in June 1984 most brutally. It was indeed a mass massacre mostly of innocents. The post-mortem reports (see Annexures 7 & amp; 8) speak of the Army's brutalities in very clear terms- (i) Most of the dead bodies had their hands tied behind their backs implying that they had not died during the action, but like Sevadar Prithipal Singh's temporary companions lined up before the firing squad, all of them must have been shot after being captured and (ii) At the time of the post-mortem, the bodies were in a putrid and highly decomposed state—they had been brought for post-mortem after 72 hours implying a totally callous attitude toward the injured and the dead.

Even after June 6, many died due to negligence, while under the detention of the Army and many others were killed in Army camps. According to the AISSF member: "On the evening of 7th June 1984 I was brought to the Army Camp and locked in the Arms Rooms with 28 persons. It had no ventilation and there was no water. 14 died of suffocation including Sujan Singh, a member of the SGPC." According to a former MLA, Harbans Singh Ghumman, 37 Sikh youths were killed on one of the Army camps at Amritsar between June 16 and June 18, 1984. He had been personally concerned about this incident at that time as he had learnt that this youngest son, Randhir Singh, was also being detained in one of the military camps at Amritsar.


One of the purposes of "Operation Bluestar" according to the White Paper, was to flush out the terrorists from the Golden Temple complex. Hundreds of people who were arrested from the Golden Temple after the army action and detained by the Army were charged as terrorists". 379 of the alleged 'most dangerous terrorsits' were forced to sign a common confessional statement and thereafter served a common charge sheet that they were all Bhindranwale's closest associates and comrades-in-arms engaged in 'waging war against the State'. They were, therefore, detained under the NSA and are now being tried at Jodhpur under the Terrorist-Affected Areas (Special Courts) Act of 1984. As we were curious regarding the extent of danger these hardcore 't rrorists' posed to the State 'with the intention to establish a State independent from the Government of India to be known as Khalistan", we visited the homes of some of the Jodhpur detainees and met their families or relatives. The evidence collected established beyond doubt that none of the Jodhpur detainees we succeeded in profiling are 'terrorists' but rather all of them are completely innocent, ordinary persons, whose only crime was that they had all gone to or were coming from the Golden Temple as devotes or pilgrims visiting the golden Temple for the Guru Parb on June 3, 1984 or farmers gone to the Temple to deliver village donation of grain to the S.G.P.C. or students gone to pay obeisance at their holiest religious shrine, the Harmandir Sahib before their examinations or interviews. The following are the case studies of the Jodhpur detaineees:

1. RAMINDERPAL SINGH (Pet name: Happy), aged 20 years, son of Harcharan Singh Ragi, whom we have met already. When Harcharan Singh Ragi and Information Officer Narinder Pal Singh's families came out of the basement on the 6th of June, they were all arrested from outside the Golden Temple and taken to the Army Camp. In the words of Harcharan Singh Ragi- "I was released on June 18. My wife and daughter were released on June 22, but not the boys. Again, on July 13, my eldest son was released but not Raminderpal, my second son. He was taken to Amritsar Jail from where he took his first year examination between August 8 and 22. Then he was shifted to Nabha Jail on August 31, 1984. On March 10, 1985, he was taken to Jodhpur Jail, from where he is taking the second year examinations now. There was no charge-sheet against any of us. But Raminderpal was falsely implicated as having been arrested from inside the Golden Temple and charged 'with waging war against the State.' He was put under the Amended NSA, which disregards the recommendations of the Advisory Board.... My son has been charged with "waging war against the State". But he is one of the gentlest and known for his courteous behaviour. He used to play hockey at the district level when he was at school. He is fond of reading, can play the harmonium and he is a good singer. Often he used to accompany me in the golden Temple during our Kirtan sessions. He was a serious student and in December 1983 when there was a strike at Khalsa College, he left it in disgust and studied at home. What he earned doing overtime singing kirtans in Harmandir Sahib, he spent it for lessons in mathematics. His closest friends are Hindus. An ideal boy, so innocent, today he is in Jodhpur Jail accused as an 'extremist'.

With great sadness, his wife said, "One who spent his life in struggle, how could he bring up his children as 'extremists'?

2. KANWALJIT SINGH - We have met Kanwaljit before we left his story at the point when he sent telegram home on the night of June 3, 1984. Operation Blue Star started thereafter. Kanwaljit was arrested by the army from the Serai and was taken to an Army Camp where he was tortured and interrogated. "Why did your come to Golden Temple? Where have you come from? Did you have arms? Did you come to fight?'

Meanwhile, Kanwaljit and Manjit's families in Delhi had no knowledge about their whereabouts, Kanwaljit's mother visited Amritsar in the late June 198 to inquire about her son. His father and brother did not go as it was feared that any male Sikh who would go to Amritsar to inquire would be arrested. At Amritsar, Kanwaljits's mother saw a list of these.

Source Panthic Weekly: 'OPERATION BLUESTAR': The untold story


1947-2014 (Archived)
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Operation Bluestar


Operation Bluestar Images
Chronology of Events

Tuesday May 25th

125,000 Indian Army troops are mobilized and deployed throughout Punjab surrounding all important Gurdwaras including the Golden Temple complex.

Friday June 1st

Thousands of pilgrims start to gather at the Golden Temple complex to celebrate the martyrdom anniversary of Guru Arjan Dev on June 3rd.

As Bhindranwale sits on the roof of the Langer hall, police snipers open fire on him. They missed and Sikhs fired back.

A seven hour skirmish during the night lasting until the morning leaves 11 dead and 25 injured. There were bullet holes in the Langer building, in the marble pavement (parkarma) surrounding the Golden Temple and in the Golden Temple itself.

Sunday June 3rd

All communications including phone lines to and from Punjab are cut. Road blocks prevent anyone from entering or leaving Punjab and all journalists are expelled from Punjab. A total curfew is imposed and as many as 10,000 pilgrims are trapped inside the temple complex.

Milk vendors from the villages who supply milk to the city of Amritsar are shot dead for violating the curfew orders.

Monday June 4th

The army starts firing on the temple complex and their is a gun battle lasting 5 hours. Using machine guns and mortars the army fires at Sikh positions at the two 18th century towers called Ramgarhia Bunga's, and the water tank behind Teja Singh Samundri Hall as well as surrounding buildings. At least 100 are killed on both sides.

Tuesday June 5th

At 7:00 p.m. Operation Blue Star, the invasion of The Golden Temple begins with tanks of the 16th Cavalry Regiment of the Indian Army moving to enclose the Golden Temple complex. Troops are briefed not to use their guns against the Golden Temple itself or the Akal Takht. Artillery is used to blast off the tops of the Ramgarhia Bungas and the water tank. Scores of buildings in and around the temple complex are blazing. One artillery shell lands more than 5 km away in the crowded city.

In the narrow alley behind the Akal Takht paramilitary commandos try to get into the temple. Some make it to the roof but are turned back due to the heavy gunfire. Meanwhile tanks move into the square in front of the northern entrance to the Golden Temple known as the clock tower entrance.

At 10:30 pm commandos from the 1st Battalion, the Parachute Regiment try to run down the steps under the clock tower onto the marble parkarma around the sacred pool. They face heavy gunfire, suffering casualties and are forced to retreat. A second wave of commandos manage to neutralize the machine gun posts on either side of the steps and get down to the parkarma.

The Akal Takht is heavily fortified with sandbags and brick gun emplacements in its windows and arches. From here and the surrounding buildings the militants are able to fire at any commandos who make their way in front of the Gurdwara.

Two companies of the 7th Garhwal Rifles enter the temple complex from the opposite side on the southern gate entrance and after a gun battle are able to establish a position on the roof of the Temple library. They are reinforced by two companies of the 15th Kumaons. Repeated unsuccessful attempts are made to storm the Akal Takht.

Wednesday June 6th

After midnight tanks are used to break down the steps leading to the parkarma from the hostel side and an 8-wheeled Polish-built armored personnel carrier makes it's way towards the Akal Takht. It is destroyed by a Chinese-made rocket propelled grenade launcher.

Six or more Vijayanta tanks enter the temple complex crushing the delicate marble inlays of the parkarma and plow their way towards the Akal Takht. Orders arrive and the tanks start firing their large 105mm cannons equipped with high explosive squash-head shells into the Akal Takht. These shells are designed for hard targets like armour and fortifications. When the shells hits a target, their heads spread or squash on the hard surface. Their fuses are arranged to allow a short delay between the impact and the shells igniting, so that a shock-wave passes through the target and a heavy slab of armour or masonry is forced away from the inside of the target armour or fortification.

The effect on the Akal Takht, the most sacred of the five Takhts,
is devastating. Over 80 shells are pumped into the sacred Gurdwara. The entire front of the Takht is destroyed and fires break out in many of the different rooms blackening the marble walls and wrecking the delicate decorations dating back to the time of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Marble inlays, plaster and mirror work, filigree partitions and priceless old wall paintings are all destroyed.

The gold dome of the Akal Takht is also badly damaged by artillery fire. At one stage a 3.7 inch Howell gun is mounted on the roof of a building behind the shrine and fired a number of times at the beautiful dome.

At the other end of the Temple complex on the easternmost side a battalion of the Kumaon Regiment were invading the hostel complex where many of the innocent pilgrims were in hiding as well as the temple administration staff. There was no water because the water tower had been destroyed and it was very hot.

(Bhan Singh, Secretary of S.G.P.C.)
"They cut our electricity and water supplies. It was very hot in the rooms. There was no water. We had only two plastic buckets of water. Longowal had to place two people as guards over the buckets. Many people would squeeze their undershirts to drink their sweat to quench their thirst."

Around 1:00 am the Army entered the hostel and administrative buildings and ordered everyone out and made them sit in the courtyard of the Guru Ram Das Hostel. There were about 250 people who came out.

As night fell the Army troops were given the order to storm the remains of the Akal Takht and shoot on site anyone they found inside. The troops encounter little resistance and find dead bodies and the smell of death everywhere.

Thursday June 7th

In the early hours of the morning the troops discover the bodies of what was thought to be Sant Bhindranwale and his closest followers in the basement of the Akal Takht.

The day was spent in clean up operations flushing out any remaining snipers and collecting the dead bodies. Soldiers were openly walking about the temple in their shoes, drinking alcohol as well as smoking. Blood and bodies were strewn all over the broken marble of the parkarma. With putrefying corpses floating in the sacred pool of nectar and the smell of death everywhere.

The Darshani Deori the entrance gate of the Golden Temple which houses many priceless treasures was destroyed and looted. Although fighting had now died down, the central library complex was mysteriously burned down. Many priceless manuscripts, some in the Gurus own handwriting were lost forever.

The number of people who lost their lives will never be known. The Army refused to let the Red Cross enter the complex and cremated the dead before the bodies could be identified or claimed by their families. The Amritsar municipal sweepers refused to clear the dead bodies away but were eventually persuaded by offers of rum and being allowed to strip the bodies of all valuables. They piled the dead into garbage trucks and unceremoniously cremated them. Family members were not allowed by the army to claim the remains or perform any traditional funeral rites. It is clear that thousands lost their lives in the Temple complex.

Elsewhere across Punjab hundreds of Sikhs were killed in the army operation at the same time which saw 42 Gurdwaras raided at the same time as the Golden Temple, including high casualties at Moga, Mukatsar, Faridkot, Patiala, Ropar and Chowk Mehta.


Kar Seva is the ceremonial cleaning of the sacred pool is normally undertaken every 50 years. A special Kar Seva was undertaken in 1985 to replace some of the damage. Tens of thousands of Sikhs participated and the sacred pool of nectar was completely drained and cleaned.

Restoration work has taken 15 years to complete. The Akal Takht has been entirely rebuilt. The marble of the parkarma has been replaced in sections with new marble. Repair work on Harmandir Sahib included reguilding the temple dome and walls with new gold. The Ramgharia Bungas have been repaired and Teja Singh Samundri Hall has been left, pockmarked with bullet holes as a reminder of the tragedy.

What was one of the darkest chapters of Sikh history, reminiscent of the persecution the Sikhs faced at the hands of the Mughals has acted like a lightening rod for all Sikhs. It should not be viewed as a cause of incitement of hatred, but rather as a jolting reminder to Sikhs that they cannot take the existence of their religion for granted. As caretakers of the Sikh religion, it is up to Sikhs to actively participate and make sure that the message of the Gurus and the Sikh religion survives and grows, overcoming any and all adversities.

Source Operation Bluestar



1947-2014 (Archived)
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1984 Commemorative Articles Operation Bluestar Published by Gyani Jarnail Singh

1984 Commemorative Articles Operation Bluestar
S. S. Dhanoa’s Remembering of Operation Bluestar.

Let me briefly highlight Dhanoa’s background before responding to his “Remembering Operation Bluestar.” He is a retied IAS officer who was advisor to Indra Gandhi on Punjab and Sikhs. Since 1984 he has been defaming the Sikhs and blaming them for the attack on the Golden Temple and what happened to them in its aftermath over the last two decades. He is a vigorous defender of Indra Gandhi and the Congress Party. His favorite Chief Minister is Beant Singh, favorite cop is KPS Gill and favorite historian is Khushwant Singh, son of Sir Sobha Singh. His venom is directed only against the Akalis, although, there is no difference between Punjab politicians, as they are one and the same representing two sides of a counterfeit coin. Besides, the dominant politicians are interrelated.1 He is a vociferous critic of Bhindranwala, but is silent about his successor, Baba Thakur Singh who still insists that Bhindanwala is well and alive and will appear at the appropriate time! What is the reason? Is it because both Dhaona and Baba Thakur Singh report to the same boss? WhenKPS Gill took journalist Khushwant Singh on a tour of Punjab for propaganda, they stopped at the Dera of Baba Thakur Singh. Dhanoa is a very harsh critic of Khalistanis, but he does not utter a word against their leaders like Jagjit Singh Chauhan, Sohan Singh Boparai and others, why? Is it because it was Indra Gandhi who created the fake Khalistan movement to destroy the vibrant, entrepreneurial and enterprising Sikh community? Is it not a fact that Indian intelligence services recruited criminal and depraved elements within the Sikh community to do the dirty work? Is not it true that it was Jagjit Singh Chauhan who conspired with Lachman Singh Gill at the behest of Congress party to sabotage the Akali ministry headed by Gurnam Singh?2 Both Chauhan and Boparai are physicians. But who recruited whom and the connection between the two remains to be discovered? Both Chauhan and Boparai are living comfortably in India whereas the murderous regime killed thousands of innocent, ignorant and gullible Sikh Youth, who were misled and incited by them. Boparai has been handsomely rewarded for his work¾ his son, Swaran Singh Boparai, an IAS officer¾with no academic experience has been appointed Vice Chancellor of Punjabi University. Swaran Singh Boparai’s father-in-law, the late congressman Swaran Singh held several high rank cabinet positions in the central government. He earned quite a reputation by leading a Muslim delegation to the Conference of Islamic Countries like Omar Abdullah who was the head of Indian delegation to the Conference on Racism and Casteism held in South Africa, two years back. Sohan Singh Boparai’s other son was a prominent Khailstani 3 in California and his wife used to eulogise the sacrifices made by her father-in-law and their family for Khalistan in the now defunct World Sikh News. The first editor of this weekly newsletter was Professor Manjit Singh Sidhu, kuram (in-law) of KPS Gill. It is well known that Indian government agents sabotaged the World Sikh Conference held in New York, July 31, 1984 to denounce and expose the heinous crime¾Operation Bluestar. 4 While the stage was occupied by General Bhullar, Professor Manjit Singh Sidhu, Saran Singh¾editor of the Sikh Review and former IAS officer and advisor to the Governor of Assam and others, the floor was manned by criminals holding naked swords. Others like Professor Pritam Singh of Guru Nanak Dev University were sitting in the audience. It is a mystery how Dr. Gurinder Singh Grewal, a man of few words, all of a sudden decided to publish a Sikh newsletter?


1947-2014 (Archived)
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Assault on Amritsar Sardar Khuswant Singh’s protest in the Indian Parliament[/b]

“ I have many unpalatable truths to tell. Bear with me till I have finished; thereafter you will be more then welcome to refute them if you can. Although I a only a nominated Member of this House, I make bold to assert that I speak on behalf of 14 million of your fellow citizens known as I go further: what you have heard, and may hear from other members of the Ruling Congress party does not echo the sentiment of the community. We have had six hours of debate during which we have heard discourses on Punjab politics, Akali factionalism, and a lot of recrimination between parties. There was total lack of a sense of gravity of the situation facing the country, which is on brink of an abyss, total absence of realization that the country is breaking up, a total absence of any viable suggestion of what we should do. My heart is very full, but I will be as unemotional and objective as I can. All I will say about the army action is that it was a tragic error of judgment, a grievous mistake and miscalculation, which will cover many pages in the history of India, Punjab and the I will dwell in greater detail on how to retrieve the situation. Perhaps the best of examining the thesis of the White paper placed before us is to go backwards, to see the situation today and go back to the genesis of the sorry business.

The situation today is that the religious susceptibility of every Sikh has been deeply wounded. 99 percent of these had nothing whatsoever to do with Bhindranwale, Akalis, the government or politics of any sort. This action has humiliated the pride of a very proud people. A proud people do not forget or forgive very easily. You have divided Hindus and the wedge was driven by Akalis, widened by Bhindranwale and made unbridgeable by you.who. Till yesterday, regarded themselves as more than first-class citizens are now treated worse than third-class citizens.

Discrimination against them continues at airports and check points on rails and roads. It has created a sense of isolation and alienation among them. They are beginning to ask themselves: “Do Indians still regard us one of them?” This being the tradition, ask yourselves two questions. One, could any action which alienated the feelings of 14 million fellow citizens, who form the backbone of our defense services, provide more than half the food for the country and live on the most sensitive border facing Pakistan be ever justified? Second, is it really true, as maintained in the government’s White Paper, that it had no choice except to mount a military invasion on the Golden Temple? My answer to both these questions is a categorical “no”. The White paper has much to say about the Akali intransigence, its constantly changing stance, making new demands and going back on points on which agreements had been reached under pressure of extremists. It says nothing on government’s own shifting positions and resiling from solemnly given under takings. I will never go over them again, but it must be recorded that every breakdown of discussions, the Prime Minister came out with the stock reply that some matters concerned neighboring states which had to be consulted. Apparently, in two years such consultations were not concluded.

The White Paper also makes no mention of the Home Minister’s repeated statements in both the Houses of Parliament, and the PM’s assurances outside Parliament that the government had no intention to move the army into the Golden Temple. Nor does it tell us in any convincing detail how many men there were with Bhindranwale and how they came by the kinds of weapons the government now alleges they had with them. The major question, which is left unanswered, is whether or not the government had any alternative other than sending in the army into the Golden Temple. I can suggest two, neither of which has been mentioned in the White Paper. First, was a commando action, men in plainclothes, designed only to take Bhindranwale and his men alive or dead. This would have spared us the loss of innocent lives as well as the massive destruction of scared property. The second was for the army to cordon off the Golden Temple complex, occupy the Guru ka Langer, cut off the supply of food, fuel and electricity and force Bhindranwales’ men to come out of the Akal Takhat and on the Parikarma to fight. The result would have been quite different. However, neither of these alternatives was given serious consideration and, instead we had six army divisions moved into the Punjab (more then we had with six wars with Pakistan), a force led by a Lt. General and teo Major Generals, equipped with armored personnel carriers, tanks, mountain guns – all to flush out no more than 50-100 men armed with nothing more than sophisticated Light Machine Guns, antiquated 303 rifles, some hand grenades and a rusty bazooka. I visited the Golden Temple a month after the army action, interviewed many people who were in the complex at the time and saw the damage done with my own eyes. Let me tell you, and through you, the rest of country, that this White Paper has grossly underestimated the number of lives lost, over looked mentioning that the dead include hundreds of totally innocent men, women and children.

The government spokesmen have repeated ad nauseam that no damage was caused to the Harmandir; as a matter of fact, it stills bears fresh bullet marks by the score; a hand written copy of the Granth pierced by a bullet; a blind raagi, Amreek Singh was killed inside while doing kirtan; the Akal Takhat is a total wreck and, besides, the entire archives consisting of nearly 1000 manuscript copies of the Granth Sahib and innumerable Hukumnamas bearing signatures of our Gurus have gone up in flames. What is more painful about this vandalism is that it took place after resistance has been overcome. Now we are talking of the healing touch. The place of ‘honour’ in inverted commas should go to the government controlled media – All India Radio and Doordarshan, and an abjectly subservient national press. For days on end TV screen showed the Harmandir Sahib at a distance so that no damage to it could be seen: and the destroyed Akal Takhat was carefully kept out of view. At first the press told us that `3 women had been killed, then no women had been killed, then that they had been killed by a grenade thrown by an extremist. That Bhindranwale had committed suicide, he had been killed by his own men, and ultimately that he had been fallen in the battle; that hashish, opium and heroin had been found – then that this was found outside the Temple; that women of loose character were with the extremists, some of them pregnant. How more pregnant with lies can anyone’s imagination be? It is evident what you have done; you have not broken the back of terrorism.

The infamous army assault on the holiest of shrines in June 1984 marks a watershed in the history of post-Partition India. The trauma has burnished deep into the psyche of the and has forever become part of the Punjabi folklore, wherein Sant Bhindranwale, retd General shahbeg Singh, Beant Singh, Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh, Jinda and Sukha stand tall as hero-martyrs of the modern era. The agony of the is all the more hurtful because in June 1984 leaders of other communities maintained deafening silence; many even expressed jubilation. Majoritarian press routinely labeled Bhindranwale as a terrorist and praised Indira Gandhi. One wonders how the deeply religious people of India could suffer such paralysis under hypnotic – if meretricious – propaganda of Indira Gandhi’s government Parliament was significantly insensitive. The lone voice of the protest came from the redoubtable historian, Sardar Khushwant Singh, then a member of Rajya Sabha.

Source Operation Bluestar: Sardar Khuswant Singh?s protest | Gateway to Sikhism | Gateway to Sikhism


1947-2014 (Archived)
Re: http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/hard-talk/25149-1984-commemorative-articles-operati

The Martyrdom of the Akal Takhat We, as Sikhs, must learn the lesson from this dark chapter of history so that it will never be repeated.
Published by Aman Singh
The Martyrdom of the Akal Takhat
The Martyrdom of the Akal Takhat

In the concept of Miri Piri, there is a subtle co-existence of the two bases of authority-spiritual and temporal. The Sikhs were acknowledged spiritually in India but not politically and this lack of recognition eventually resulted in the attack on the Akal Takhat. The Sikhs fought valiantly for India in the World wars and also during the partition of India and Pakistan. More than 80% of the freedom fight for India came from the Sikhs who only represented less than 2% of the Indian population. So respected were the Sikhs that the British even suggested an independent state within India, but the Sikhs were so loyal to Mother India that they rejected this in order to live in harmony within the country. India achieved independence in 1947 but sadly even in 1973 the Sikhs, in the Anandpur Resolution, were still petitioning for their political rights and identity from the Indian Government.

Through a series of events this lack of recognition eventually led to the attack on the Harimander Sahib in 1984 and the martyrdom of the Akal Thakat. Siri Singh Sahib ji called the Akal Takhat the "longitude and latitude of the nerve centre of the universe which keeps the central movement of magnetic rotation of the shield of the planet earth." When the Akal Takhat was attacked, the psyche of the Sikhs and Sikh political identity, Miri, was attacked. Those within the Harimander complex were brutally murdered and the sarovar was a sea of blood. Sikh men in Punjab were taken from their homes, doused in petrol, and burnt alive. Sikh women and girls were abused and raped. Entire families and their homes were burnt and pillaged. A blackout was placed on the state, blocking TV, radio, phone, and media communication to the outside world. The Sikhs abroad were not able to communicate with their relatives. This shook the Sikh Diaspora to its roots. The Sikhs cried in anger and outrage at the atrocities. Just imagine: if the Vatican were attacked in such a manner, the entire Christian world would be in an uproar. This eventually resulted in an awakening of the Sikh Identity in the Sikh Diaspora abroad.

We, as Sikhs, must learn the lesson from this dark chapter of history so that it will never be repeated. We must learn methods to educate the rest of the world about the Sikh Holocaust of 1984, especially since most the information was suppressed and hidden even in this modern day and age. Ultimately, we must look to the concept of Miri and Piri established by Guru Hargobind to ensure the sanctity of our religious identity and political identity.

The Siri Singh Sahib stated that the Akal Takhat gave itself in martyrdom. The Akal Takhat martyred itself to preserve the sanctity of the Harimander and so Miri sacrificed itself to protect Piri. As Sikhs, we need to understand the importance of this balance where Spiritual authority must supersede Political authority. For each individual Sikh it means to practice the Dharma to first build one's spirituality, and then one can build his/her temporal authority. When we as Sikhs are committed to our spiritual practice, then our political identity will also have strength. Only then can Sikhs truly grow on the path of Khalsa and help to bring the Guru's prophecy of Khalsa Raj to fruition.


1947-2014 (Archived)
Re: http://www.sikhphilosophy.net/hard-talk/25149-1984-commemorative-articles-operati

The Widow Colony - India's Unsettled Settlement

Source: The Widow Colony - India's Unsettled Settlement :: SikhNN :: The Next Generation of News and Views

San Antonio, Texas, USA - Every day, for the past twenty-one years, they see each other. They are stuck there together, reliving the past. Every day is 1984.

[Click here to see trailer]

“We didn’t know what we were in for,” says Harpreet Kaur, Director of ‘The Widow Colony – India’s Unsettled Settlement.’ When she and husband, Producer, Manmeet Singh, arrived at the first settlement in Tilak Vihar, on the west side of New Delhi, they could easily see the vastness of the Widow (Vidhva) Colony. “The yellow flats settlements stick out like a sore thumb,” recalls Kaur, “We stood on top of one of the buildings, and as far as we could see were these yellow buildings.”

“We thought we were going to set up, interview and leave.” But when they taped their first interview with Gurdeep Kaur, it was unimaginable what they heard. “When Gurdeep Kaur started talking, we started balling. Her strength and pain, we really felt it. We were then prepared to listen the most horrifying stories.”

The film takes the viewer to the areas of Trilokpuri, Kalyanpuri, Sultanpuri and Mongolpuri, the same localities that suffered the major brunt of the Sikh killings. In November of 1984, government-organized mobs went on a barbaric rampage to take their murderous revenge on Sikhs for the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31. Conservative estimates say that over four thousand Sikhs, mostly men and some women and children, were butchered and burned alive during four days of lawlessness in Delhi alone. Left behind were thousands of widows and children. The trauma of 1984 still haunts them today.

‘The Widow Colony’ is a seventy-three-minute film that documents personal stories of women, in their own words, of what happened in November 1984, and how they have been surviving since then. The film takes an in-depth look into the lives of the widows of the Sikh men who were killed in the massacre. It unearths the sad and deplorable condition of most of these widows and their children living in the widow colonies of Delhi. It reveals their suffering, their battle for justice and their struggle for survival in India.

They were not willing to talk at first, says Harpreet Kaur. Many people had come and interview them, but nothing happened. They found it very painful to talk about the horrific killings and the gang rapes they witnessed. Indian culture is still very backward in the way they treat widows and rape victims; they are outcast from society.

“How do you comfort them? We didn’t know what to say or how to thank them,” says Harpreet Kaur. They did find the strength to talk and relive their experience. Four weeks later, Harpreet and Manmeet had forty hours of footage. Kaur had interviewed eighteen widows and some youths whose fathers were killed in the pogroms. That was October 2003.

The footage sat on the shelf until Harinder Singh of the Sikh Research Institute (SRI) stepped in to raise funds and find sponsorships to finish the film. SRI also provided assistance with script writing and fact checking. Editing for 'The Widow Colony' was done by Shootz Productions. The Editors team at the Texas studio had worked with renowned director Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation on award-winning Holocaust documentaries. The documentaries were created from the multitude of video testimonies from Holocaust survivors that have been documented and preserved by the Foundation. ‘The Widow Colony’ has the same feel, graphics and music as the Holocaust documentaries, says Kaur.

The final product is a gut-wrenching tale of what has become of the survivors of the 1984 pogroms against the Sikhs of New Delhi.

Along with the testimonies of the widows, supplemented with imagery of the killings and the destruction that followed after the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, the film conveys the intensity of the tragedy that occurred twenty-one years ago.

The context to the anti-Sikh pogroms is provided by subject experts: Rajinder Sachar (former Chief Justice of Delhi), Harvinder Singh (human rights attorney), Kuldip Nayar (journalist and former MP), Patwant Singh (author and historian), Madhu Kishwar (social justice activist and writer) and Jaskaran Kaur (author and executive director of ENSAAF). They focus on the incalculable loss of human life and the justice that has been denied to these victims for over two decades. The three main accused were awarded cabinet positions in the Indian government in May 2004. And the recent apology by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh failed to acknowledge the State’s responsibility for the pogroms. Twenty-one years and eleven commissions later, the Indian Government still has not delivered a single conviction.

“There is no denying that in all these years of analysis and discussion that has surrounded this issue, we have forgotten about the survivors and their need for rehabilitation. While the world has moved on marking the massacre as a chapter in history, these widows have been in mourning since then, and will only be able to move forward when they see the perpetrators of their crimes punished,” states Harpreet Kaur.

It is a deplorable condition these women have been living. They work every day to provide a meager existence for themselves and their children. The children of 1984 are now young adults. They can’t afford an education and they are jobless. They are passing their days under the influence of drugs that are handed out free and in broad daylight.

“‘The Widow Colony’ is a movement do something,” says Harpreet Kaur about her documentary. “Someone from here [US] has to take a lead on this issue, in India it is not possible. The world is not aware of this problem. This is where media can be so powerful. If people see something that is thrown at them constantly, like the Holocaust, they can’t forget it so easily. The world should see how a country touting to be the largest democracy can commit such horrible crimes against its own people. [With raised awareness] someone can put pressure on the Indian Government. Even non-Sikhs can realize what happened and make it a part of their agendas. [There must be a] push for legal justice.”

Harpreet Kaur and Manmeet Singh started Sach Productions in 2001 to use the film media to further the Sikh cause. Based in San Antonio, Texas, Sach Productions has become a media source that specializes in creating films on contemporary cultural, political, religious and economic issues relating to South Asia. It focuses on contentious issues not usually addressed in mainstream media in hopes that audiences develop awareness and initiate change.

When ‘The Widow Colony’ premiered in India last year, the guest list was a virtual who’s who of Indian Sikhs. “The widows attended,” Harpreet points out, “They were so happy to see their story told. Some of the youths also attended and were also very pleased to see the final product.”

In February this year, ‘The Widow Colony’ made its North American debut. Socio-political leaders, human rights activists, community leaders and civic organizations came together for the US premier in Los Angeles. Sikhpoint.com hosted the screening. A panel discussion followed. The panel provided insights on several critical issues: justice, documentation, rehabilitation, healing, memory, and activism. The reaction of the hundreds of people who came to see the film was that of disbelief. Harpreet Kaur recalls that many people came to her wanting to know how they could help.

In response, SRI is establishing a rehabilitation, documentation and education fund called the Widow Colony Project Fund. The fund will finance the further documentation of video testimonies. It will also finance a rehabilitation effort to help the youths of 1984 become more employable through education and help them with job placement.

This year, ‘The Widow Colony’ will be submitted to several film festivals in the US and Canada. The next screening of the documentary will appear at the Indian Film Festival in Los Angeles next week. After film festivals and private screenings in major cities, 'The Widow Colony' is projected to be released on DVD in November 2006.

Note: All images courtesy Sach Productions.

Director, Writer and Cameraperson, Harpreet Kaur, graduated from Pennsylvania State University with a degree in Communications. She worked as a news reporter in the Metro Washington DC area and produced a show with County Cable Montgomery, which she hosted and directed. In the last four years Kaur has directed several educational documentaries. The Widow Colony is her biggest project. Producer Manmeet Singh is a Financial Analyst and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering. His key responsibility is to focus on pre-production planning, coordinating post-production activity and managing Sach Productions.

Report by Anju Kaur, SikhNN, Washington DC.

For more information, see the following web sites:


1947-2014 (Archived)
Kindly referred by VaheguruSeekr ji

Eye Witness Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti’s personal account from the tragic days of the June of 1984

Former Akal Takht jathedar, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, has chosen to tell his personal experience and an eye witness account of the dastardly attack on the Akal Takht, Darbar Sahib and Sikh heritage by the Indian Army. This account was written and published in Punjabi, and has been translated into English by Sach Kanwal Singh for the readers of World Sikh News. In the accompanying shorter piece, Sach Kanwal Singh has a few posers for the Jathedar.


On June 4, 1984 I got up at 3 a.m. Exactly at 4 a.m., I along with my wife Harbhajan Kaur, reached Sri Harmandir Sahib for my duty as Ardasia Singh. Dr. Amrik Singh Huzuri Ragi's jatha was performing kirtan of Sri Asa Ji Di Var. At 4:30 when the Palki Sahib arrived from Sri Akal Takht Sahib (Kotha Sahib), the hukumnama was taken.

Around 4:45 a.m., when kirtan of Sri Asa Ji Di Var was on, a cannon ball struck into the Sindhi Dharamshala. This Dharamshala was towards the north of Sri Akal Takht Sahib and was between the Takht Sahib and the Tharra Sahib. (This dharamshala was later on demolished.) The cannon ball seemed to have come from the Jallianwala Bagh side. Three or four minutes after that, massive indiscriminate firing started which went on till 8:30 p.m.

Off and on, the cannon ***** kept falling at various places, but till this day, no bullet struck inside Sri Harmandir Sahib. As a matter of precaution, we had shut the doors and windows of Sri Harmandir Sahib. I and Singh Sahib Giani Sohan Singh ji came out of Sri Harmandir Sahib at 9:30 in the morning after our duty and reached our respective residences inside the complex.

On the evening of June 4, the Nitnem was concluded at 8 p.m. That day the holy saroop of Sri Guru Granth Sahibji was not taken to Kotha Sahib. Rather the Sukh Asan was performed at Har Ki Pauri itself. At around 10 p.m., power supply to Sri Darbar Sahib and buildings around was cut off and army had organized positions on the tall buildings around Darbar Sahib.

From 10 p.m. till 5 a.m. of June 5, the firing was very subdued. When I reached Sri Harmandir Sahib at 4 a.m. on June 5 for my duty, Bhai Amrik Singh was performing kirtan of Asa Di Var and Giani Sohan Singh with the help of some sevadars was bringing down the Saroop of Sri Guru Granth Sahib from Har Ki Pauri. Hukumnama was taken after prakash.

At 4:55, there was a hail of cannon *****, and eight of them continuously struck the Sindhi Dharamshala since they were trying to target Sri Akal Takht Sahib. Firing struck all around the Parikarma and inside Sri Harmandir Sahib. The doors of Sri Harmandir Sahib were shut. Some 4-5 Akhand Pathi Singhs, 15-20 sevadars and a few devotees were present inside Sri Harmandir Sahib. Among them were S Harcharan Singh Hudiyara, Shahid Bhai Fauja Singh's wife Bibi Amarjit Kaur and sister Bibi Paramjit Kaur.

This Bibi Paramjit Kaur was martyred near Baba Sawiya Singh's chabeel. Around 11:30, five of us, including myself, Singh Sahib Giani Sohan Singh ji and three sevadars reached our quarters negotiating our way through the firing.

Near Baba Sawaye Singh’s chabeel from where steps led to my residence, many corpses of the martyred Singhs were lying. My residence was also not safe because some Singhs had already organized positions there. Among them were a few Singhs who had come from Nanded. We saw that these Singhs were bravely countering the firing by tanks, which was coming from Shaheed Baba Deep Singh Bunga side.

These Singhs blew up an artillery group along with the soldiers which was trying to enter from the rear Papran Bazaar side. Around 12:30 p.m. of June 5, I came along with my family to the store where wet garments are stored. There was already a big crowd of Singhs in this store. We thought it better to go back to our residence after more than an hour spent in the store.

Around 1:30 that day, the water tank opposite Guru Ram Das serai was blown up. Some 200 shots were fired at the water tank. Around 8 p.m., the army tried to surround Sri Akal Takht Sahib by trying to enter from the Papran Bazaar side.

Around 8 a.m., cars of senior army officers started arriving. Three army trucks rolled in full of ammunition, including rifles, swords and even spears. All these weapons were taken to Akal Takht Sahib. These were the weapons that were later shown to the people during various photo-ops.

The Singhs from our side threw something on those soldiers and we heard loud cries of “Mar diya, Mar diya." Perhaps all the soldiers down below were killed. Then the army men brought a heavy gun mounted on a jeep. But the Singhs did not allow this jeep to move much. These Singhs exhibited exemplary bravery till the very end. Around 9:45 in the night, a small tank entered the parikarma. A cannon ball fired by this tank struck our corner room. One of the Singhs who was left downstairs by his associates was injured in this room.

Around midnight, the army was able to take control of this side. Before that, around 10:30 in the night, a few tanks had entered the parikarma from the Langar hall side. Next day, one tank passed by the chabeel at Baba Deep Singh ji and then the Shaheed Bunga spot. These tanks then fired poison gas ***** at Sri Akal Takht Sahib. This gas affected even our side. These tanks kept the firing on all through the night. The bullets kept coming inside our house.

Around 8:45 on the morning of June 6 took place the massive battle in front of Sri Akal Takht Sahib. The army had taken control on all sides except Sri Akal Takht Sahib and the corner on our side where the Bungas were located.


On June 6, at 4:05 p.m., the army made an announcement using mega phones asking everyone in the complex to come out within 30 minutes. Initially we were in a dilemma, but when we saw Bhai Gurdip Singh Ardasiya and other sevadars coming out of Sri Harmandir Sahib, we also came down from our quarters. We had only locked the outer gate and had merely bolted the rooms. A bit of cash, a couple of watches and some other costly stuff that we had put in a bag, was immediately snatched away by the army men.

Near the Deodhi towards the south, they tied my hands behind my back using the small dastar tied on my head. At this time, my wife Harbhajan Kaur, mother-in-law Pritam Kaur, sister-in-law Kashmir Kaur and nephew Sukhwinder Singh were with me. When we were arrested, we saw a nearly 20-day old child also lying dead near the chabeel. All around the parikarma and the rooms, there were many children and elderly devotees who had been martyred.

The arrested men and women were divided into groups of 40 and were handed over to different units of the army. Members of my family and I were in the same group. At this time, Akal Takht Sahib and Darshini Deodhi were both on fire. The 40 of us arrested were brought out alongside the Dukh Bhanjani Beri and then out of the Clock Tower deodhi and made to sit on the debris of the building that had gathered after so much firing.

Women and children were then separated from the men.


Stuck in the heavy firing ever since the major battle of the morning of June 6, Huzuri Ragi Bhai Amrik Singh and Bhai Balwant Singh, both blind, alongside Bhai Avtar Singh and Bhai Gurcharan Singh were killed near the Laachi Beri by the soldiers. The ishnanghars (bathing places) both for males and females were full of corpses. The army men to whom our custody was given were either Madraasi or Bihari. If anyone asked for water or wanted to go to the urinals, he would immediately be kicked or beaten with rifle butts.

We were brought here around 4:30 in the evening. Around 7 p.m., a few commandos came with a bunch of photographs and scanned our faces to see if any matched with the mugs they had. The one question we were being asked throughout was -- "Where Bhinder has gone?"

Till 10 p.m., we were off an on kicked and beaten with rifle butts. When the children and the elderly started crying badly because of thirst, the soldiers gave us each a glass of water. As our hands were tied behind our backs, the soldiers put the glasses to our lips. That's how we had water.

Later, four young men from our group were pulled out and they were beaten very badly. In the evening when we were brought there, there were four corpses in front of the Punjab and Sind Bank. But by the time it was morning, these had become 13 corpses. Whosoever they wanted to kill, they would first call him out and take him outside.

Till midnight, we kept sitting there, heads down and our hands tied behind our backs. After midnight, we were ordered to lie down. But with our hands tied it was not possible to lie down properly and we lay sideways, between life and death.
Around 7 in the morning of June 7, some army men standing nearby were sending messages on the wireless that Sant Bhindranwala has been killed and "we are fully in control of the Golden Temple."

Around 8 a.m., cars of senior army officers started arriving. Three army trucks rolled in full of ammunition, including rifles, swords and even spears. All these weapons were taken to Akal Takht Sahib. These were the weapons that were later shown to the people during various photo-ops.

Corpses of two senior army officers who were shot dead by the fighting Sikhs inside the Golden Temple complex were brought out covered in white sheets. Then a corpse was brought out which was said to be that of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwala. This was covered with a yellow cloth and was placed on a slab of ice in the Deodhi of the Clock Tower side.

The information officer of the Golden Temple, Narinderjit Singh Nanda, was also with us. He was tortured very badly during the night. Now the army men took Narinderjit Singh Nanda and Bhai Harcharan Singh Huzuri Ragi to identify Sant Jarnail Singh's body. When they came back, I asked Bhai Harcharan Singh Ragi if it was indeed the body of the Sant. He said that the face was beyond identification. A bullet had gone through the neck and a sure identification was not possible but it did seem that of Sant Bhindranwale.


Between 8 and 9 a.m. of June 7, some army men dragged the wife of Ragi Bhai Jagir Singh, brother of the well known late Ragi Bhai Gopal Singh, from their residence towards the Clock Tower. She was crying very loudly and kept on shouting that these army men pulled out her husband from the room and have shot him dead. Then she fell unconscious and was taken to the hospital where she could not survive the shock and died.

Similarly a large number of sevadars at Sri Darbar Sahib along with their families were shot at point blank range by the army men.

Around noon of June 7, our hands were untied so that we can have food. It is necessary to tell here where the food came from. This food was prepared and distributed by a group of shopkeepers who were celebrating the army attack on Golden Temple and were openly happy at the killing of the Sant. The tea, chapatis, puris, curries and lentils were in good supply. We were sent this same food. You can well imagine how we partook of this food.

After we had eaten, our hands were tied again. Around 3 p.m., we were asked to board the army trucks. It was difficult to climb in because of our tied hands but the soldiers would badly beat up anyone who slackened his pace.

After being released on June 17, on June 18, I went straight to the Sikh Reference library. I found the holy handwritten Saroops of Guru Granth Sahib and many ancient manuscripts, historical documents, etc missing. Till date, the government of the country says that all of this was lost in a fire at the library but the truth is that all this stuff was taken away by the army because till that time there was no sign of a fire.

Sardar Singh, the sevadar of Baba Sham Singh dera who used to bring a deg every day during the chowki at dawn, found it difficult to climb into the trucks and was beaten so badly that he died by the time he reached the camp jail set up inside a school. Similarly, the sevadar of Gathhri Ghar (where belongings of devotees are deposited for safe custody), Bhai Kikar Singh alias Kulwant Singh, whose legs were deformed also could not survive the torture from the army men and died on June 9 inside the army camp.

Some 50 of us were locked in a single small room on the first floor of the school. People were crying because of thirst and hunger. Women and children were taken away. There was a single tap inside a bathroom from where all of us used to drink water of take bath. Only stale chapatis were given to us twice a day.

Every person was separately interrogated and we were repeatedly photographed.
After intensive interrogation and investigation, I, alongside 83 other employees of the SGPC was released on June 17, but other members of my family and other visitors to the Darbar Sahib were not released and were rather sent to jail. On June 28, I was able to get bail for them.

Later, four young men from our group were pulled out and they were beaten very badly. In the evening when we were brought there, there were four corpses in front of the Punjab and Sind Bank. But by the time it was morning, these had become 13 corpses. Whosoever they wanted to kill, they would first call him out and take him outside.

After being released on June 17, on June 18 I went straight to the Sikh Reference library, to which I was closely associated as a researcher. I found the holy handwritten Saroops of Guru Granth Sahib and many ancient manuscripts, historical documents, etc missing.

Till date, the government of the country says that all of this was lost in a fire at the library but the truth is that all this stuff was taken away by the army because at that time there was no sign of a fire.

I was perhaps not so saddened by all that my family and I went through, than by the realization that the historical heritage of the Sikh quom has been lost.
I went to my residence where the lock was broken and the army men had taken away every single thing including utensils and clothes. Sitting in front of the Clock Tower, we had given up all hope for life but I am eternally grateful to the Akal Purakh who gave me the opportunity to continue an association with Sadh Sangat for some more time.
10 June 2009


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1947-2014 (Archived)
Kindly referred by VaheguruSeekr ji

Let’s carry each other’s heads
Cynthia Keppley Mahmood
Today I read in the newspapers about a bill brought before Parliament about the possibility of Canadian victims of terror being able to bring suit against perpetrators of violence and the countries harboring them, i.e. the notion of “alien torts.” How admirable! How very civilized! Far better, certainly, than the response we got in the United States toward Osama bin Laden after the 9/11 attacks, which was a growled, “I’ll git’m alive or dead” from President Bush. Down the road from that cowboy threat, we and our allies find ourselves mired in two wars, and hated as never before across the Muslim war. Surely some sort of recourse to international law, to international courts, or in the end to domestic courts, would have been preferable to even this greatest and most heinous of crimes.
When Canada suffered its heaviest terrorist blow, the downing of the Air India jetliner in 1985, it turned to its intelligence and judicial agencies for what became the lengthiest and costliest investigation in Canadian history. That resulted, as we all know, in the Vancouver trial of Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri, the two remaining accused, in 2006, in which both were acquitted.

But on this day when we are commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Indian Army’s storming of the Golden Temple of the Sikhs at Amritsar and concomitant massacre of several thousand innocent worshippers - going essentially unnoticed in the Canadian media amidst the hubbub over Tiananmen Square – we must fairly take note of the fact that despite the world’s respect for the Canadian justice system, this verdict exonerating these Sikhs of the Air India bombing has simply not been taken to heart by the wider Canadian society. They simply don’t believe it’s true. This disbelief is not helped by the inflammatory journalism of two BC reporters, one openly in contact with Indian intelligence agents in Canada, and the other who actually subtitles her book, “How the Air Bombers Got Away with Murder.”
The result of all this is a widespread silencing of the Canadian Sikh community, normally, as everybody knows, a particularly boisterous, outspoken, and unquietable segment of Canada’s multicultural mosaic. This is coming for two reasons, I suspect: first, Sikhs sense that non-Sikh Canadians don’t view them, anymore, as quite “Canadian,” the taint of the terrorist mythos lingers; and second, within the Sikh community deadly divisions have been sewn in which every person suspects the other of being either a CSIS or a RAW (Indian intelligence) agent. Now, every time I approach a podium in
Canada, some Sikh or the other rushes up to me and whispers, “Don’t say anything about Khalistan. Don’t say anything about Air India. And so on, a litany of self-censorship, amongst the very refugee community who fled to Canada precisely for its freedom to speak without fear.

In Punjab itself one finds the same strange silence, eerie now as economic growth and the natural hustle-and-bustle of Punjabi life covers over the history of suffering that is so recent that so-called “normal” life is in fact pathologized: farmer suicides are one of the facts of life that no longer seem odd; alcoholism, once unthinkable among Sikhs, is now common; drug use has become the teen “problem” it is in other countries. This is the new normal. But underneath the surface, tensions remain, the same old grievances have never been resolved and the guilty have never been held accountable. Look at last week after the sad Vienna episode! Immediately, spontaneous violence breaks out across India, wherever there are Sikhs. Yes, they are back to “normal,” but any spark can set them off.

All is not well in Sikhdom right now, and we all know that. It’s a threshold moment, a time of transition. The armed insurgency has come and gone. What, at this moment, needs to be done by a world Sikh movement aiming to support Sikh interests in Punjab and everywhere?
In my studies as an anthropologist with Sikh-Canadian families in the B.C. area, I and my students find that many parents are not even passing along the stories of what happened to the Sikhs of Punjab during 1984 and the decades thereafter; the fact that they themselves had been jailed and tortured or perhaps raped; that their house had been burned; that two uncles had disappeared in the night, never to return; or yes, that another uncle had taken up arms to fight for Khalistan and had been shot down in an encounter with police. Why are some parents declining to pass along this key part of this history, this very reason why many immigrated to Canada in the first place? Because they are scared. Even here in Canada, they are now afraid that something could happen

In one of the great films of all time, “Le Scaphandre et le Papillon” (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly), directed by Jean-Dominique Bauby, the true story is told of a man who, in an accident, is paralyzed from head to toe. He can move only his left eyelid. At first, he desires nothing but death. But after a while, he comes to realize with the help of a patient nurse that he could construct a sort of code by blinking that left eyelid in stuttered sequences and thereby communicate. With greatest difficulty, he eventually manages in this manner to dictate an entire book, the story of his life and his insights about life and freedom. A sad film, a tragic film? Yes, of course. Very hard to watch. But at the end this is a story of liberation and of human dignity, because the protagonist realizes that despite all, he still has his voice and thereby his humanity. He can still “speak.”

So important is the power of speech in being human that governments attempting to crush resistance movements start and end with quashing their ability to get their message out – as Foucault realized, to “speak truth to power.” In northern Uganda, where the Acholi people and the Lord’s Resistance Army are fighting a ****** war with the central Government, one could open any newspaper daily to find a picture of a face mutilated by having the entire mouth and lip area gouged out. The symbolism is obvious. Yes, the person was killed. But importantly, the person was not able to speak.

The killers of Sikhs, some of them on a large scale, were never held up for public shame. The Sikhs, who had sacrificed so much for the nation of India, by the 1980’s, were like the offending weeds that no longer belong in the national garden. Good men did nothing as one by one, Sikh men, women and children died in the fields of Punjab. The same Indians who otherwise gathered for protests or organized aid when Christians were attacked, somehow stood aside when the victims were Sikhs.
In Mozambique, where one of the world’s bloodiest civil conflicts took place, my colleague reported that you could find in the marketplace the classic three monkeys showing the “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” postures. But, she noted, in the “speak no evil” pose, the fingers covering the lips were parted oh-so-slightly – the carver’s wink to his/her unknown future customer that yes, somehow, we will get this message out. Somehow, we will bear witness. Somehow, the world will hear about this.

The world has still not really “heard” about the travails of the Sikhs, and I want to explore why. After all, India is a democracy, “the world’s largest democracy,” and it has laws to protect against abuses of rights and to protect minorities. It has an independent judiciary and a relatively free press, and relatively calm and fair transitions of power.

The fact is, however – and I have learned this in the post-9/11 United States as well as in my research in India – that being a “democracy” by law alone is not enough to ensure the vibrancy and flourishing of human voices that alone guarantees human rights.

Let me present you with a seemingly paradoxical picture. Along with the Sikhs, I have also begun to study the Kashmir conflict, and I have visited both sides of Kashmir many times. Once during the Zia years in Pakistan – that is, during the years of military dictatorship – I was traveling along the Line of Control that marks the informal border of India and Pakistan. Streaming out of the mountains were hundred upon hundreds, probably thousands, of refugees (these are the Himalayas, mind you, no easy trek), most of them suffering various levels of frostbite and starvation, many bleeding from wounds now starting to scar or freeze over. The point of note is that these refugees were flowing from India to Pakistan. From the democracy to the dictatorship, that is. And on the Pakistan side one could see vast miles of tent camps, as far as the eye could see, where Islamic aid groups were handing out blankets and tea and medical help (the beginning of another story).

Why would somebody leave a democracy and, at great cost, flee to a dictatorship? This picture points to what the Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben calls “the razor-thin line” between democracy and dictatorship despite the fact that in our political theory we treat them as polar opposites. The fact is that the macro-structure of Indian democracy doesn’t mean much for the texture of daily life in one of the regions where a “state of exception” rules; that is to say, where the government has decided that for security reasons certain rights may have to be temporarily abrogated and certain special laws called into place. In the United States, we know about the exceptional laws, the exceptional limitations of rights, brought into play during the crisis after 9/11: Guantanamo Bay, civilian wire tapping, new categories like “enemy detainee,” foreign renditions, waterboarding.

It is through the concept of “the state of exception” that we can understand how it can be that India, though a democracy on the macro-scale, can show a highly dictatorial face to any given region deemed “exceptional” because of a security crisis. Now Punjab, later Kashmir; now the northeast, then Gujarat, later Chattisgarh – kind of like popcorn. Let us not forget, as we celebrate “the world’s largest democracy” that only exceptionally abrogates its commitments to human rights, that Hitler too came to power electorally, and that most of the holocaust occurred under “exceptional” laws passed for a time of crisis in what was otherwise a highly civilized nation. I just could not believe it when, in our small town in the United States, in a town meeting after the 9/11 attacks, my fellow townspeople readily agreed with the chief of police that torture may be necessary if we should – and here’s the climate of paranoia for you – find terrorists attempting to take over the local mall. I wanted to raise my hand to point out, amidst the unanimous slippage into a proto-fascist mode of operation, that torture was completely illegal both domestically and internationally – didn’t my educated fellow citizens in South Bend know that, for gosh sakes? But with a Muslim last name, I decided that prudence was perhaps the better part of valour for that moment, and I remained the quiet observer.

It happens easily. Democratic laws, Charters of Rights and Freedoms, do not in themselves protect our rights. It is an active and vigilant citizenry, making use of those laws, who are actually the bulwark against abuses like torture, concentration camps, illegal wiretapping. Picture the detainee in the jail cell, weak, probably naked, on a cold floor, living on scraps of food, emaciated, awaiting he knows not what future. It is not he who can draw on the laws that protect our rights and freedoms. He relies on others, his fellow citizens, to use those laws to get him out of that detention, to make public the abuses, to end the state’s use of exceptions to get round its commitments to basic human rights.

In the case of the Sikhs in Punjab, the problem was that there was nobody to come to their aid. With a few rare exceptions, most of India’s civil rights and humanitarian organizations turned their backs on the Sikhs. People with turbans quickly became a pariah population: “socially dead,” to use Orlando Patterson’s fortuitous phrase. To put it bluntly, no one in India really cared if they lived or died. Why? Because the image was cleverly and quickly created of the-Sikh-as-terrorist, and therefore the Sikh as unworthy victim. The same Indians who otherwise gathered for protests or organized aid when Christians were attacked, somehow stood aside when the victims were Sikhs. And the killers of Sikhs, some of them on a large scale, were never held up for public shame, let alone legally prosecuted; as Zygmunt Baumann said of perpetrators of the holocaust, designers of genocide are usually actually proud of their accomplishments, applauded by their audiences, who view the offending population as weeds that no longer belong in the national garden. The Sikhs, who had sacrificed so much for the nation of India, by the 1980’s fit this description perfectly. Good men did nothing as one by one, Sikh men, women and children died in the fields of Punjab.
I for one find it horribly frightening to note that the silencing of Sikh voices in India has now crossed the ocean to extend its tentacles to Canada as well. Will history forget the thousands of grandmothers and grandfathers, aunts and uncles, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, who did in pain and indignity, whose ashes were blown away into Punjab’s blue skies or simply flushed unceremoniously down some canal to a foreign land? I understand the fears, the wish to protect. But I also believe very strongly in the power of the human voice, the need of the human voice to at least set history straight, to make sure that history is written not only by the powerful, to make sure that those deceased and disappeared are never forgotten. It is not “democracy” or “academic freedom” that will take care of that task. It is you and I.

In Sikhism the metaphor of living with one’s head in one’s hands is powerfully set into the very basis of the tradition; it means living humbly, without ego, living to serve. Recognizing the fragility of the planet on which we live and the brief moments we share upon it, I like also to imagine that we also carry each other’s heads in our hands, you and I. What precious cargo!

I have lived among the Sikhs these past many years, in any case, in this fashion, knowing that my love and respect is reciprocated by a community too often stereotyped and too little listened to. I have learned about chardhi kala from the Sikhs I’ve known, and I think I’ve become more generous and yes, more courageous from the model of the Singh and the Kaur around me.

But not all is well in Sikhdom right now, and we all know that. It’s a threshold moment, a time of transition. The armed insurgency has come and gone, the movement for Khalistan has risen high and . . .? and what? Some still believe a separate state is the only avenue for justice, while others barely talk about it anymore. In the diaspora, a first generation’s emotional response has yielded to a second generation’s more educated and measured leadership, and we can expect a third generation yet more capable in areas of law and organization and civil discourse – less ready to turn to fisticuffs over old feuds and arguments. But what, at this moment, needs to be done by a world Sikh movement aiming to support Sikh interests in Punjab and everywhere?

As a sympathetic and educated observer I may offer a few humble suggestions.
Thus far, the energies of the movement have been almost wholly inwardly focused. Newspapers, radio and television broadcasts, camps, and so on, and so on, have all aimed at the internal Sikh community, attempting to rally it round, sort out its differences, educate its youth. These remain important tasks.

But what the world Sikh movement has not done is to turn its energies toward the outside – to seek out, educate, and make partners of the wider non-Sikh society. This has been critical in every successful case in which a Diaspora community has mobilized in support of a homeland base. Here, the taint of “terrorism” and the continuing feeling that the Sikhs are not worthy of sympathy make such outreach all the more important. This community has a lot of catching up to do. The Tamils, the Kashmiris – two other Diaspora communities with which I am familiar – are way, way ahead. Sikhs have, by contrast, made a ghetto of themselves.

Let me give you a simple example. In the guide to Toronto provided by the hotel where I’m staying, there’s a list of places of worship. One can find churches, synagogues, mandirs, mosques, Buddhist temples – but no gurdwaras. Why not? Simply, no Sikh group has taken it upon itself to be sure that every city guide in Canada lists a gurdwara in its visitors’ catalogue. A simple thing, but a telling example. The Sikhs, though a key part of the Canadian multicultural mosaic, are also simply out of the mainstream.

If the Sikh community could really pull together, could transition from the shouting to the working phase, it could do several things that I think are first steps toward real effectiveness as a global movement

First, it would be necessary to conduct a series of well-thought-out workshops on the question of how the Sikh religion intersects with Punjabi culture. Sikhism is a universal faith, of course, yet we all know plainly that most gurdwara services are conducted in Punjabi, that Punjabi cultural values permeate everything Sikh. There are so many valuable things about this heritage. But, on the language issue especially, the continued use of Punjabi mono-lingually at events such as this one, at which one is trying to approach non-Sikhs who clearly do not understand the language, cannot be of help to a movement that is serious about its aims. In this age of technology, simultaneous translation running on a screen behind the speaker is easily possible; I’ve seen it among Kashmiris, who are way ahead of the Sikhs in terms of professionalization of a movement.


Second, I think it is time that the community hire on a permanent basis a small team of top flight international lawyers, who can be at the ready for opportunities like alien torts (through which, for example, an Indian human rights abuser could be sued in a Canadian court), who could approach UNESCO on the World Heritage Status of the Golden Temple Complex, who could be called upon on issues regarding the international humanitarian laws of war. This team could proactively work to ensure recognition of Sikh rights in every country where Sikhs live, instead of waiting for individual cases to react to. It could work on what the notion of self-determination actually means, in this 21st century, and explore other options for representation of sub-state collectivities.

Third, the community should hire real lobbyists, professional lobbying firms, in Washington, Ottawa, and London. Not just a few Sikhs with the passion for a cause, but a professional firm trained to advertize and push through an agenda. This is exactly what the government of India has done, and it is what you must do, as well. The sense of mistrust for non-Sikhs is antiquarian, and must be gotten over. Simply expect to hire and pay for the best. They will come to know well the environments of the capitals, know which bills should be supported and how to support them, and be able to think through how the assertion of Sikh rights, or a potential Sikh state, could benefit others.

Fourth, there should be a rotating youth initiative, perhaps set up as internships, to keep track of how the community is being perceived on the internet and to push the Sikh agenda electronically. Likewise, this group of young people, being unattached, could spring into action when opportunities presented themselves such as organizing aid to flood victims in New Orleans. Or, for example, I just found out tonight that the Council of Bishops in the Catholic Church have a firm principle that places of worship are inviolable. Young people, find out such a fact and having grown up here, more familiar with other faiths, could approach the Bishops and find out how to perhaps use this principle to protect the Golden Temple, perhaps to mobilize Catholics around the Sikh cause.

I for one find it horribly frightening to note that the silencing of Sikh voices in India has now crossed the ocean to extend its tentacles to Canada as well. Will history forget the thousands of grandmothers and grandfathers, aunts and uncles, fathers and mothers, sons and daughters, who did in pain and indignity, whose ashes were blown away into Punjab’s blue skies or simply flushed unceremoniously down some canal to a foreign land?

Fifth, the Sikh diasporan community must set up its own academic foundation. This foundation would fund scholarly research and writing projects on the Punjab conflict, human rights, and Sikhism in order to make sure that the tragic episode of the past two decades cannot be ignored in the historical record. It could also conduct workshops to help Punjabi scholars learn the standards of international academic publishing, and perhaps help link Western scholars to Punjabi scholars for entrée into Punjab. Most important, its financial support would enable the subaltern or nonstandard Sikh Studies, which views matters from the ground up rather than from New Delhi down, to continue to function and flourish.

Finally, the community must define and support the development of an archive and museum along the lines of the holocaust museums of the Jews. For this type of enterprise, one must be serious; one must hire a professional archivist and expect to spend money on restoration and preservation of artifacts. But doing this centrally will in the end cost less than every gurdwara having its own little library, as is now the case. Such a central archive and museum can also be accessible electronically worldwide, if the decision is made to locate the original outside of India.

The military side of the Khalistan movement was never quite serious enough for its activists to really train as soldiers the way, say, special-ops forces do, or to learn about guerilla tactics and theory by reading about other insurgencies comparatively. It relied instead on the deep passion and commitment of the “saint-soldiers” and their willingness to martyr themselves in their cause. This is a common first phase of a movement like this one. It evokes much popular admiration and establishes legendary, even mythic, reputations, but it rarely wins battles.

The same is true on the political side. Loud demonstrations have their place, certainly, and so do vehement essays and provocative speeches that boil the blood of those whose souls have been wounded. But in a more mature second phase, the hard work of actually making something happen has to be brought into place. It takes discipline, time, and a long-term vision – probably a generational vision. The Irish had that vision and held onto it. Can the Sikhs?

Loud demonstrations have their place, certainly, and so do vehement essays and provocative speeches that boil the blood of those whose souls have been wounded. But in a more mature second phase, the hard work of actually making something happen has to be brought into place. It takes discipline, time, and a long-term vision.
It is true that my list of desiderata will cost a great deal of money. But then, the stakes are very high – the preservation and protection of a religion, the defense of human rights, the self-determination of a nation. It is up to every Sikh to decide whether it is worth it. In my view spending money in a disciplined, accountable manner of proven effectiveness is far preferable than the current wastage in which cash slips through the cracks of gurdwara elections, individual court cases, this or that local action, one upmanship between factions. Get with it! Make your funding and your hard work count.

As for the silencing with which I began my remarks, I beg you . . . to hell with it! In my community we have a saying that the nail which sticks up will get hammered down. That may be true, but still I’ve always gone ahead and been that nail. A book I’ve been reading called “A Person of Interest,” by Julia Choi, provides another metaphor: a field of poppies, in which the tall ones are likely to get plucked. With Sikhs wearing those lovely saffron turbans, that is perhaps the better analogy. Please, for God’s sake, for the sake of Sikhi, don’t be those poppies that bow their heads down, trying to hide somehow in the crowd. Be the tall, proud poppies that stand out in your Canadian field, where every law protects your right to do so.

The author is Associate Professor of Anthropology, Senior Fellow, Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame. This article is based on a speech she delivered at the World Sikh Organisation’s Annual Parliamentary Dinner Meeting at West Block, House of Commons, Ottawa, on 4 June 2009 in the matrix of the theme Past in Perspective –Future in Focus; Commemoration of 25 years of Saka Akal Takht.
10 June 2009
Dear All,
Kindly observe that all of this was a malicious, horrific and inhuman power game played by the rulers of the state. I appeal not to hate every Indian or every Hindu common man for this. As you can see from the posts of the pogrom victims, Hindu common men were involved in shielding the victims. Let the truth spread all over the country and definitely it will get total support from every Indian community for justice. May the souls of the victims rest in peace.


1947-2014 (Archived)
Published in Sikhs: Past & Present.

It is from my book 'SIKH HISTORY in 10 volumes' (from vol 7);

Available from: Singh Brothers Amritsar (and also from leading book shops at Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Chandigarh
3 of the 10 volumes were published in September 2010, vol 4 to 7 will be released in August 2011 and 8 to 10 will be published in December 2011.
For more details read the book

Attack on Darbar Sahib and Akal Takht (part 1)

Indira Gandhi had since long been planning for an attack on Darbar Sahib; first, in the summer of 1983 she first asked Lt General S. K. Sinha, then vice-chief of the Indian Army to prepare a position paper for an assault on Darbar Sahib; but, when he strongly advised her against taking such a step;[1] as a result he was transferred to Army Headquarters; later, he chose to seek pre-mature retirement. Now Arun Shridhar Vaidya was appointed the Chief of Army with Lt. General Krishna Swamy Sunderji (General Officer Commander in chief of the Western Command) as vice Chief. In September 1983, Indira Gandhi asked Vaidya and Sunderji to to prepare a position paper; it was ready by the end of December 1983; Indira Gandhi studied it for two weeks and, on the Indian Army Day, on the 15th of January 1984, she gave final instructions to General Sunderji to be prepared for attack.[2]

In the third week of January 1984, a commando force of 600 soldiers was selected from different units of the Indian Army; they were sent to make rehe{censored}als for an assault on Darbar Sahib complex, and, for this purpose a life size replica of the Darbar Sahib complex was built in the hills of Chakrata (near Dehradun), about 240 kilometres from Delhi. In January 1984, after accomplishment of the mission of practice of mock attack on Darbar Sahib complex, Indira Gandhi was briefed about the completion of the preparations for attack; between February and May 1984 Indira Gandhi alerted the Army three times but each time she vetoed the invasion; ‘a case of nerves’ as per a senior aide.[3]

As mentioned in the previous chapter, the Third Agency had escalated violence in the Punjab in order to justify attack on Darbar Sahib; in 1981 there occurred just 28 incidents of violence in the Punjab, in 1982 the number was just 33; in 1983 when the Third Agency began its action for final round the number rose to 138 but after this when the Commandos had completed their mock battle in Chakrata hill, number of incidents of violence began rising and just in five month (from the 27th of January to the 2nd of June 1984) 364 incidents of violence took place; of these 22 occured in the first two days of June although the army had already taken positions in the Punjab on the 31st of May; even out of the incidents 90% were of frivolous nature hence of no significance; after Indra Gandhi gave the first order (which was posponed) to attack Darbar Sahib, incidents of violence increased with high speed so that attack on Darbar Sahib may be justified. Thus the activities of the Third Agency and political manouvering of Indira Gandhi outwitted not only hazy minde Akalis but also the Hindus and the other political Parties. Indira Gandhi never disclosed her hidden aims. Indira Gandhi Government kept on repeating that Armed Forces will not enter Golden Temple complex.[4]

Indira Gandhi had made complete preparations for attack on Darbar Sahib but as a drama she continued having dialogue with the Akalis; she had performed this ‘drama’ several times earlier too; during Tri-Party Talks ‘thre times in six months an agreement was reached and three times she backed out’; she again backed out when Swaran Singh tried to mediate; she uses dilly-dallying tactics when the ‘Punjabi Group’[5] came up with a ‘formula’ in April 1984; in fact ‘Mrs Gandhi had other intentions’;[6] even Ravinder Singh Ravi, a professor of Punjabi University, tried to mediate; his efforts too met with an alike treatment; none of them knew that Indira Gandhi was just playing drama of negotiations, she had already planned to attack Darbar Sahib and cash the Sikh Card to capture a big junk of Hindu votes.[7]
The last drama of show of negotiations witht he Akalis was played from March to May 1984; the Akali leaders met the Government delegations on the 27th, 28th and 29th of March, on the 21st of April and on the 26th of May,[8] the last meeting took place on the 27th of May 1984;[9] in the final meeting an agreement was reached with the Akalis and they were told that the same will be ‘announced after getting approval from Madam’; in fact this was just a drama because on that day (the 27th of May) orders had already been issued to the Indian Army to proceed towards Amritsar (an advance party of the Indian Army had taken positions around Darbar Sahib on the 30th of May).

On one hand Indira Gandhi had dispatched orders on the other hand a message was sent to the Akalis that ‘Madam’ had not approved the agreement; at this the Akalis announced that if their demand were not accepted by the 2nd of June 1984, they will launch a Non-cooperation Movement from the 3rd of June; however, every one knew that the Akalis won’t launch any new Movement, the will just continue holding demonstrations and rallies and court arrests.

Preparation for Ground to Attack Darbar Sahib
Before finally attacking Darbar Sahib, Indira Gandhi had prepared ground; a mutual distrust had already been created between the Sikhs and the Hindus; the Sikhs were been projected as anti Hindu, killers of Hindus, as well as separatist, Khalistanis, anti-nationalists, ‘agents of Pakistan’, traitors, extremists (attvaadi), fundamentalist, fanatics etc. The Government media, the A.I.R., T.V. were presenting the Sikhs as the ‘Sikh terrorists’; and this hate-propaganda was so aggressive that not only the B.J.P.[10] but even the other non-communal Opposition Parties, including both Communist Parties, were vied each other in condemning and denigerating Sikhs and demanding a military action against Bhindranwala particularly and Darbar Sahib generally; Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Chowdgry Charan Singh, Shiv Sena, Hindu Suraksha Samiti, Shiv Sena, Bajrang Brigade, Vishav Hindu Prishad, Arya Samaj all spoke in the same language; they wer so ignorant that they could not read the mind of the notorious woman; it is surprising that Harkishan Surjeet (of the C.P.M.), too sailed in th same boat in spite of the fact that he himself had been a part and parcel of negotiating team and he knew that it was Indira Gandhi who was the real culprit as she did not want a political solution and she had ‘other intentions.’
Army takes over the reigns of the Punjab

Indira Gandhi issued orders for attack on Darbar Sahib under the code name of ‘Operation Blue Star’; on the 27th of May 1984 the troops left for Amritsar by rail, road and even by air; five Corps of Army (the 1st, the 2nd, the 10th, the 11th, and the 15th) had reached the Punjab on the 30th of May and the Army was still on the move. On the 31st of May, a meeting of the operating generals was held at Chandimandir (near Chandigarh) at the headquarters of ‘Core 2’ unit of the Indian Army; it was attended by officers of the Army, Airforce and Navy which included Lt. General K. Sunderji, K.S. Brar, R.S. Dyal and others; Sunderji had been Commander of a regiment in the Indo-Pak War of 1965, R.S. Dyal had been a Major of a Parachute Regiment in the same War. This meeting discussed and planned to attack and occupy Darbar Sahib in just 24 hours; the whole ‘action’ was broadly divided into two parts: attack on Darbar Sahib (under code ‘Operation Blue Star’) and sealing of border between India and Pakistan (‘Operation Wood Rose’); operation of the sealing of the border was assigned to 11 Core Unit, Lt. General K. Gauri Shankar was the chief of this ‘Operation’.

The advanced unit of commandos had already taken positions around Darbar Sahib, right in the evening of the 30th of May. Although secret agents and the intelligence network of the Government had already given almost complete picture of the inside of the Darbar Sahib Complex but still, on the 1st of June, Major General K. S. Brar, Captain Jasbir Raina, Lt. Colonol K. S. Randhawa, Brigadier D. V. Rao and Colonol Fernandes (who had reached Amritsar early in the morning of the 1st of June) went to the Darbar Sahib in plain clothes and had a round of the whole of the Complex to assess fortification.

On the 1st of June 1984, the C.R.P.F. and the B.S.F. which had taken positions on all the tall buildings around Darbar Sahib since long,[11] suddenly they began firing at Darbar Sahib without giving an warning; it was, in fact, an attempt to provoke the miltants to retaliate, which would have given a chance to the Indian Army to assess which weapons did they have, what was the standard of their strength, where were their posts from which they could have attacked the Army. On the other hand, the militants too understood the strategy of the Indian Army hence they did not show any reaction. This firing continued for more than five hours (12.40 noon to 7 p.m.), killing 8 Sikh devotees including a woman and a child) and wounding more than 25;[12] the central building of Darbar Sahib itself had been hit by bullets where there were at leats 34 bulet marks.[13]When the firing was going on, Harchand Singh Longowal, President of Akali Dal, tried to contact Zail Singh, the President of India, but in spite of making several telephone calls, Zail Singh could not be reached; all the time Zail’s Secretary kept on saying that he was not available; in fact Zail was avoiding[14] because he knew about all the plan of the attack on Darbar Sahib and the firing of the 1st of June was a part of that. However, Longowal succeeded in contacting B.D. Pandey, the Governor of the Punjab, who confessed tha he won’t be able to do anything because ‘the orders were coming straight from New Delhi'.[15]This action was repeated on the 2nd of June 1984 when 32 bullets hit the building of Akal Takht from its backside; here too the army wanted to test the reactions of the Sikh miltants in order to know their positions from where they would be firing in situation of attack by the Army.

Preparations by the Sikh militants
The conspiracy to attack Darbar Sahib had been chalked out in the summer of 1983 and this planning had been leaked out to General Subeg Singh; he discussed the same with Baba Jarnail Singh; at first the latter resolved to leave Darbar Sahib and offer his arrest (as he had done in Chowk Mehta on the 20th of September 1981) in order to Save Darbar Sahib from military attack but then Subeg Singh told him that the conspiracy to attack was not simply due to him and rather it was with an intention to ‘teach a lesson to the Sikhs’; at this Baba Jarnail Singh decided that the Indian Army should also ‘be taught a lesson’ and the Indian Army should be given a fight like that of the 1st of December 1764 when 30 Sikhs fought against 30000 Durrani and Baloch soldiers. After this, General Subeg Singh began making preparations for combating the invading Indian forces. General Subeg Singh was an expert of guerrilla war; he had achieved great success in 1971 when the Indian Army fought a guerrilla war against the Pakistani Army in the East Bengal (now Bangla Desh); hence he knew how to stop advances of the enemy forces; thus he planned to give such a fight to the Indian Army that would be known as the greatest battle of resistance in the history of the world. But, Bhindranwala had just a few Sikh youth, most of them had never touched even a gun; but all of them were ready to sacrifice their lives for preserving the honour of Darbar Sahib and the Sikh Panth (and they proved what Geneal Subeg Singh said; the battle of Darbar Sahib is ‘the greatest battle of resistance in the history of the world’).

Indira Gandhi’s broadcast from the A.I.R.:
Though Indira Gandhi had ordered attack on Darbar Sahib but she was scared; right from the 27th of May 1984, when she had signed final orders, she had been nerovous, her behavious had turned queer, her voice choked all these days; during this period she had called a closed-door meeting of Congress activists from all over India, and, on the 2nd of June 1984, “when she walked up to the platform she appeared to be limping; her shoulders were hunched; she looked dishevelled; her face was drawn; she choked as she spoke; it looked like if someone in her family had died”.[16]

A few hours later, in the ate hours of the evening of the 2nd of June, Indira Gandhi made an unscheduled broadcast from the A.I.R.; in her broadcast she blamed the Akalis for not having reached agreement (which was a lie as it was she who backed out at least three times); she stated that she had accepted all the demands of the Akalis i.e. sale of tobacco, liquor and meat had been banned in demarcated area in the walled city of Amritsar (this too was gossip), consulations were being made for an All India Gurdwara Act (this was just a gossip), a Tribunal headed by a Supreme Court Judge was being constituted to decide distribution of water dispute (the Akalis had demanded that the case hoould be decided by the Supreme Court and not a Tribunal, but, she did not trust the Court), a Commission was being appointed to decide the issue of Chandigarh, Abohar, Fazilka and other Punjabi or Hindi speaking areas (this too was a lie), Sarkaria Commission has been appointed to submit its report on Centre-State relations. She said that the Government had accepted their demands but they are raising fresh demands all the time (this too was a lie), and, they have announced launching of a non cooperation Movement from the 3rd of June. In the end she played another drama by saying: ‘Even at this late hour, I appeal to the Akali leaders to call off their threatened agitation and accept the framework of peaceful settlement which we have offered. She ended her speech with the words ‘Dont shed blood, shed hatred’; it was like Devil giving sermons because when she was speaking from the A.I.R. the Indian Army had already taken positions around Darbar Sahib three days earlier to that and had also surrounded more than 70 Gurdwaras.; and it (Indian Army) was ready to play with ‘blood’ and dissipate and practice ‘hatred’. Commenting upon this Kuldip Nayyar onserved: ‘How could she first order military operation and then suggest negotiations? And even if the Akalis were ready to talk, how could hey contact her, all the telephones had been cut off.’[17] (Bold letters are mine – author).

[1] ‘Operation Blue Star’ has been reckoned as one of the 10 Political Disgraces of India: 1. Emergency (June 1975- January 77). 2. Operation Blue Star (June 1984). 3. Bofors Scandal (1987-96). 4. Demolition of Babri Mosque (December 1992). 5. JMM Bribery Case (July 1997). 6. Fodder Scam (January 1996). 7. Hijacking of an Indian Airliner to Kandhar (Decemebr 1999). 8. Arms Bribery Case in volving Bangaru Laxman BJP chief etc (March 2001). 9. Gujrat Riots (February-March 2002). 10. Surviving No Confidence Motion (July 2008); for details see article, of the same name, by Gunjeet K. Sra in India Today, dated 29.12.2008
[2] Malhotra, Inder, Indira Gandhi: A Political Biograph, has also refrrered to this.
[3] Nayyar, Kuldip and Khushwant Singh, Tragedy of Punjab, p. 56.
[4] A. R. Darshi, op. cit, p. 100.
[5] The ‘Punjabi Group’ comprised of Kuldip Nayyar, Air Marshal Arjan Singh, Lt General Jagjit Singh Arora, I.K. Gujral, Pran Chopra, Gurcharan Singh etc.
[6] Samiuddin Adiba, The Punjab Crisis: Challenge and Response (Delhi 1985), pp. 644-45.
[7] Ibid, p. 682.
[8] These meetings had been attended, from Akali side, by Badal, Tohra, Ravi Inder Singh, Balwant Singh, Surjeet barnala, Balwant Ramuwalia etc.
[9] Earlier too, on the 16th and the 17th of November 1982, then on the 17th and 24th of January 1983 too, meetings had been held between the Akalis and the Government delegations.
[10] L.K. Advani, in his autobiographical work, published in 2008, have openly confessed that it was he, and his Party B.J.P., which pressed upon Indira Gandhi to attack Darbar Sahib. When this book was published, all the Sikhs condemned Advani, but Manjit Singh G.K. (president of the Delhi Akali Dal, Badal group) went to the residence of Advani on the 13th of April 2008, and presented him with a robe of honour (for instigating Indira Gandhi to attack Darbar Sahib).
[11] According to Harminder Kaur and Mark Tully, the order for this fire had been given by K.S. Brar (Harminder Kaur, op. cit., p. 7, Tully, Mark, op. cit., p. 145), also see the ‘official account’ (which is full of lies) by Kuldeep Brar, Operation Blue Star.
[12] Citizens for Democracy, Oppression in Punjab (Delhi 1984), p. 57.
[13] Oppression in Punjab, p. 58, Tully, Mark, op. cit., p. 145. Later, these marks were shown by the international media including the Pakistani TV (In Khabarnama of the 3rd of June 1984.). Later these signs were removed by the S.G.P.C. when Tohra was President and Manjit Singh Calcutta was the Secretary.
[14] Harminder Kaur, op. cit., p. 8.
[15] Ibid.
[16] Tully, Mark, op. cit, p. 142. On the other hand, a fanatic Hindu journalist Prem Bhatia (editor The Tribune Chandigarh) playing as cheap sychopant, wrote that when he saw her in the first week of July 1984 ‘she looked five years younger’ (The Tribune, dated 8.7.1984); such was the mentality of sychopants of Indira Gandhi and the fanatic Hindus; the same Bhatia, in the issue dated 7.6.1984, descrived attack on Darbar Sahib as ‘a neat operation’ in spte of the fact that nothing was yet known as to what had happened there at Darbar Sahib or in 72 other Gurdwras in the rest of the Punjab.
[17] Nayyar, op. cit., P. 91

*Dr Harjinder Singh Dilgeer National Professor of Sikh History


1947-2014 (Archived)
From 'Sikhs: Past & Present' journal of Sikh Studies.

For details, read: SIKH HISTORY in 10 Volumes by Dr Harjinder Singh Dilgeer (It is in volume 7).

Attack on Darbar Sahib (Part 2)

Events Realting to Attack on Darbar Sahib
On the 2nd of June 1984, the Indian Army sealed all the international border, from Ganganagar in Rajasthan to Jammu; several army tanks, a large number of army trucks and Armed Personnel Carriers (A.P.C.) as well as other Army vehicles were seen everwhere in the Punjab and on the international border.

The same day, formalities of takeover by the Army were performed; the Army set up Command Headquarter in the Police Kotwali (about 300 metres from Darbar Sahib), the ‘Armed Group’ of the 350 Infantry Brigade, which was to guide ‘Operation’ (it was to act under the command of K.S. Brar), was stationed here, at the top floor of this building; and this office was direct on line with the Central Government’s Control Room at Delhi which was under the over all command of Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi assisted by Arun Nehru, Arun Nehru, and K. P. Sinh Deo (Deputy Defence Minister).[1] The same day, R. S. Dayal[2] (Chief of Staff Western Command) took over as the Advisor Security[3] to te Governor of the Punjab; and, with this all the telecommunication, postal services and rail and bus transport was taken over or suspended by the Army; the Punjab Police had now virtually no role as they were to obeyorders of the Army; by the evening the Army had been posted on all the key positions: the railway stations, bus stands and all the transport, telecommunication towers and their offices, bridges and roads, canals and rivers, administration and public services; now all the infra structure in the Punjab was under the command of the Indian Army; all the foreign citizens were ordered to leave the Punjab.

Gurdev Singh Refuses to sign orders to attack Darbar Sahib: Before formally launching th attack the Army needed formal signatures from the Deputy Commissioner (D.C.) of Amritsar; at that time Gurdev Singh was the D.C. and he refused to sign permission/orders to attack Darbar Sahib; as a result he was replaced by Rameshinder Singh (whom Parkash Badal appointed as the Chief Secretary in his Government); Gurdev Singh was sent on leave but even during this ‘holidays period’ he was to remain under strict survielence of the Army; Rameshinder Singh immediately signed orders to attack.

As per planning the attack was to begin early in the morning of the 4th of June 1984; frontal attack on Akal Takht was to be made by specially trained commandos from 1st battalion, the Parachute Regiment, wearing black denims with bullet-proof vests; they were to be followed by the 10 Guards and the 12 Bihar Corps; they were to be assisted by 26 Madras and 9 Kumaon. The 12 Bihar Corps had already taken positions around Darbar Sahib, right in the morning of the 3rd of June. As per planning the whole ‘Operation’ was to be completed in thirty-six hours; hence, on the 3rd of June, at 9 p.m., a thirty-six hour curfew (later extended for another thirty-six hours) was imposed in the whole of the Punjab; and, in and around Darbar Sahib, electricity and water services were disconnected.

On the other hand, when the electricity was disconnected General Subeg Singh understood that the attack would begin within hours so he assigned duties to the defending Sikh volunteers whose number was between 100 and 125; they took positions in the basement of Akal Takht, in and around the parikarma (periphery) of the Ghanta Ghar (clock tower) gate of Darbar Sahib; the Babars took positons at the top of Ramgarhia Bunga (two eighteen century towers on the corner of Darbar Sahib) and on the water tank (in side Guru Ram Dass Saran).

The Final Attack Begins
In the morning of the 4th of June, the Army was assigned job like this: (a) North-west zone of Darbar Sahib Complex (Ghant Ghar to Akal Takht) = one Infantry Unit, one Para Commandos, one Company Specail Border Force [S.S.F.] (b) Darbar Sahib itself = one unit (c) South-east zone of Darbar Sahib Complex (Aata Mandi, Sikh Reference Library, Baba Atal, Manji Sahib) = one Infantry Batallion (d) reserve for all these three = one Infantry Batallion (e) siege of Darbar Sahib = one Infantry Batallion.

On that day, there were more than five thousand Sikhs inside Darbar Sahib; it being the anniversary of the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Sahib, people from the whole of the Punjab and even other places had gone there to make obeisance; a thousand strong jatha, which was to court arrest the following day had also arrived; besides some Bangla Deshis, who were to board a train to Pakistan the following day, had also gone to Darbar Sahib for meals and night stay.

On the night of the 3rd of June the Army had forcibly taken over ‘Braham Buta Akhara’ and ‘Temple View Hotel’; and these were, later used for Operation.

At 4.40 a.m. the final assault of ‘Operation’ began; first of all the Army attacked the water tank (inside Guru Ram Dass Saran) and the ‘Ramgarhia Bunga’ (two towers of the eighteenth century) with 106 M.M. cannon, 25 pounder 3.7 inch Howitzers guns, mortars and 3.7 Howell guns, LMG and MMG guns;[4] which blasted the water tank and the upper part of the Ramgarhia Bunga, killing all those who had taken positions there; their bodies fling off in pieces all around; thus this front was won by the Army without any battle. Bombardment of the Army was so savage that not a single person, including the defending miltants and the pilgrims staying there to spend night, survived this savage attack.

After this, 50 specially trained commandos of the ‘10 Guard’ unit moved towards ‘Ghanta Ghar entrance’, most of them were immediately killed and the rest were wounded (among the wounded was also Jasbir Raina who, a day earlier, had gone to Darbar Sahib to collect sensitive information; later one of his legs had to be amputed; he remained handicapped for the rest of his life). When the first batch of the commandos was eliminated Para Commandos and the S.S.F. took their place to move towards Akal Takht. Hundreds of soldiers tried to reach Akal Takht so that they should throw poisonous gas cannisters and ‘stun bombs’ inside the Takht building to kill or make unconscious the Sikhs present there; but none of them could reach proceed even a few metres, all of them were killed; some of them tried to proceed by crawling but the too were killed by a machinegun which the Sikh fighters had set on the floor; b noon hundreds of soldiers had been killed and there was not even 10% success; the whole passage between Ghanta Ghar and Akal Takht was full of deadbodies of the soldiers of the India Army. After this the Army began throwing gas shells but as the direction of the wind was towards the Army, it rather boomranged and harmed the Army.

Later, in the evening the Army succeeded in reaching the roof of the periphery from where it began firing and now a battle began for the occupation of the rooms adjascent to the Ghanta Ghar entrance; this pitched battle took lives of hundreds of soldiers and also the Sikhs who had taken positions there.

Though the Army had achieved no success, no head way, to advance towards Akal Takht still Lt Genenral K.C. Padda, along with his Subedar Major and 30 specially trained commandos tried to adnance but all of them were killed. By this time the Army had occupied the building agjascent to Thara Sahib (a few metres from Akal Takht) and began shellin Akal Takht and throwing gas shells; and with ths a unit of the S.S.F. tried to advance; they too were killed in minutes; thus the Indian soldiers had achieved nothing except deaths.

On the side of the Guru Ran Das Saran too, the Indian Army began its operation; as the main gate was locked, the Army tried to break it but the guns could not succeed in getting it opened; hence tanks had to be brought in to break the gate; but when, after getting the gate opened, the Army tried to proceed further, gun fire from Baba Atal, Langar building and the Saran blocked its advance; now the tanks began continuous firing, but in spite of this the 26 Madras battalion could not get much success.

When this front too was not successful, two Companies of the 9 Garhwal were sent to attack the Ghanta Ghar of Aata Mandi side; had they achieved success they were to be followed by the 15 Kumaon which had been, earlier, reserved for taking control of Guru Ram Das Saran, Akal Rest House, Teja Singh Samundari Hall and the office of the Akali Dal; but as the 9 Garhwal could not achieve its target the 15 Kumaon was sent to help it.

After a pitched battle and loss of hundreds of soldiers, the India Army finally succeded in occupying the Saran on the 5th of June i.e. the second day of the battle; after this the soldiers, under the command of Lt General Israr Khan, began throwinf grenades in all the rooms of the Saran where the pilgrims had been staying. Early in the morning of the 6th of June (at about 1.30 a.m.) the 9 Garhwal had succeeded in occupying the Sikh Reference Library and a few rooms around it. On the Akal Takht front, 15 Kumaon, under the command of N.C. Pant was engaged in heavy fighting. On the 6th of June, at about 2 a.m., the position was:

Though the 10 Guards had occupied northeren Ghanta Ghar but it had lost hundreds of soldiers; and the soldiers were still becoming victims of firing.
26 Madras had reached in the southern gate.
9 Garhwal Rifles had occupied the Sikh Reference Library.
‘One Para Commando’ Force and the ‘S.S.F.’ had lost several soldiers but they have not achieved even minor success to advance towards Akal Takht.

Deployment of tanks to blow out Akal Takht
By this time (at 2 a.m. on the 6th of June), Brigadier A. K. Diwan (nickname Chikki) reached at the Sikh Reference Library; K. S. Brar assigned him command of 26 Mardras, 15 Kumaon and 9 Garhwal and directed them to target only Akal Takht; with in half an hour this group began its action; hundreds of shells were fired but the Indian Army could not procced even centimetre; and the losses of the Army were very high. At this Diwan and Brar decided to bring in tanks;[5] Brar contacted Sunderji, the Chief of ‘Blue Star Operation’ on walkie-takie and the got sought consent of Indira Gandhi through General Vaidya,[6] the Chief of the Indian Army. Between 2.30 and 3 a.m. the first tank was brought from the side of Guru Ram Das Saran; it was 38 Ton Vijayanta Tank fitted with 105 mm heavy guns. This tank entered the periphery of Darbar Sahib and threw search light at Akal Takht and began heavy shelling with 105 mm guns; it was supported by guns of the Army units which had taken positions on the roofs of the buildings of both Ghanta Ghars but, this action cold not contine long because the wires of the bulb of the search light got fused after one minute;[7] now the Army brought in another tank; this too met the same fate; then a third tank was also brought in. At that time it was dark and the helicopter helped the Army in identifying the targets for attack. “The helicopters hovered above and contined to fire from above. Some of the helicopters also guided the firing squads of the Army by making a circle of light around the targets. Immediately after these circles, the cannon ***** would land on the targets causing havoc. We saw a large number of boys blown to pieces.” [8]

The tanks could not give the expected results; now Polish built eight-wheeled mechanised carriers ’Armoured Personnel Carriers’ (A.P.C.) and cannons were brought in; to bring them into the periphery the stairs of the entrance to the periphery had to be blasted with the help of another tank because the Scott could not have crossed these stairs.

By this time, shells of 84 mm of Carl Gustav (of Sweden) guns were being showered of Akal Takht. Now some commandos of the 15 Kumaon, seated in an A.P.C., tried to proceed towards Akal Takht; all this time rockets of the Army continued shelling Akal Takht so that the Army may get the shield from the attacks by the militants; but, then an anti-tank shell, thrown by the miltants, fell upo this A.P.C. and it got jammed there and then.

Now, Brar got consent of Indira Gandhi to totally blast Akal Takht building with the help of he tanks; at 5.10 a.m. Indira Gandhi called General A. S. Vaidya, the Chief Commander of Army, and after getting his nod she gave permission for this action too she had not slept for the past two days); having got ‘go ahead’ from Vaidya and Indira Gandhi, at 5.21. a.m. the army began constant shelling of the Takht building; within hours one third of the building had disappeared but still there was heavy confrontation. From the other side, at about 5.45 a.m., Major B.K. Mishra of the Commando Company, succeeded in reaching near the stairs of the Akal Takht; the miltants had in fact not attacked them deliberately and allowed them to proceed and when they reached there all of them were killed. By 6.20 a.m. the Indian Army had achieved nothing but deaths and destruction.

At about 6.20 a.m. Subedar K.P. Raman Ravi and some of his commandos too reached near the Akal Takht; the miltants let them too to continue moving ahead, but when the reached the stairs, the miltants pounced upon them and took them in the basement of Akal Takht and tied a bomb on the body of Raman and blasted his body; the rest too were killed.

At 7.30 a.m. the Indian army again began shelling the building of Akal Takht; about 80 squash-head sheels of 105 mm were fired at the Takht; this action continued till 11.30 a.m.; but, in spite of this the Army could not reach near the Takht. In the night, the biggest battle began; to quote an eye witness: “At about 9 p.m. on 6 June, entire city of Amritsar was shaken by powerful shelling, mortar explosion and machine-gun fire. The big battle had begun. Half the city was on rooftos watching the battle. Tracer bullets and flares lit up the crescent moonsky. The explosion at Golden Temple rattled doors and windows miles away. While the battle was raging, the state run radio claimed taht the city was ‘calm’.[9]In spite of using tanks, helicopters, and the latest top-most world renowned guns, the mighty Indian Army had not been able to reach near the building of Akal Takht. According to one souce[10] 15000 troops took part in assault, 35000 standing by to put down an internal rebellion; it futher says: ‘Not even in the more ruthless days of the empire had the army been used to storm such an important religious building’; besides he number of the defenders was not more one hundred and fifty; and such a small number of defenders of the Darbar Sahib did not allow the mighty Army to win a few hectares of land for four long days; it is perhaps the greatest battle of the world history.

Another historical fact of this battle is that in this battle the Indian Army used more ammunition than it had used at any front, in the earlier wars (1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak War and 1962 Indo-China war) by the Indian Army; probably, in no battle, for the occupation of one small Complex, so much ammunition was used throughout the history of the battles of the world. It was fifth historic unequal battle in the history of India in which, on one side there were about one hundered defenders against fifteen thousand strong force (with another fifty thousand reserve forces as stand by); the former had just a small quantity of guns whereas the invaders had helicopters, tanks, most modern army vehicles, guns, canons, latest ammunition with endless quantity; the defenders fought without eating or drinking any thing whereas the invading army had full supplies of everything; it was unequal battle perhaps the greatest event of military history of the world.[11]

On the midnight between the 6th and 7th of June, Baba Bhingranwala, Bhai Amrik Singh, Thara Singh and about a dozen more Sikhs who were present in the basement of Akal Takht discussed the whole situation; they realised that in the three days’ battle, though the Indian Army has suffered colossal loss but on the other hand the bulding of Akal Takht has been badly damged; the sight is awesome; they realised that they don’t have much ammunition left with them and they won’t be able to resisted for more than a few hours; hence it was resolved that those who can escape from that place must do so; when some one suggested Bhindranwala that he too should escape he immediately retorted: ‘I have to embrace martyrdom’ and Bhai Amrik Singh too asserted that he won’t leave. After this, about a dozen Sikhs, including Thara Singh etc, crossed to the adjoining buildings (at that time the building of Takht was surrounded by residential buildings) and then escaped through narrow lanes with the help of some employees of the S.G.P.C.

The next morning, on the 7th of June, at about 7 a.m. Baba Jarnail Singh and Bhai Amrik Singh recited their nitnaym (daily prayer) and came out of the basement; Baba Jarnail Singh took position on the backside of the flagpole and began fighting; within some minutes a volley of bullets hit him and he was killed and so was Bhai Amrik Singh. Now, the major leaders of the Sikh miltants were no more, the great General Subeg Singh had already embraced martyrdom a day before.

Even after this the battle continued till noon and when all the ammunition was finished, they too embraced death. It was only in the forenoon hours of the 7th of June when there was no firing from the side of Akal Takht for a long time; the Indian Army realised that all the miltants must have been dead and then they moved towards Akal Takht.

When the Army (26 Madras Regiment) entered the basement of the Takht, it found only 38 bodies of the defenders of the Takht; Bhindranwala’s body was found near the flag-pole. It was shameful on the part of the Indian Army that they tied the deadbody of General Subeg Singh and dragged it just to express their anger against him. Tully has reported that he had seen pictures of Subeg Singh’s deadbody which show that ropes had been tied around his arms and he was dragged before he died.[12] Mark Tully is wrong in saying that Subeg Singh was caught alive and tortured to death; in fact, he was already dead and it was the deadbody that had been dragged).

Greatest Battle of Resistance in History
About fifty thousand soldiers of the Indian Army, known as the ‘third greatest army of the world’, with all its three wings (Army, Air Force and Navy), fully equipped with helicopters, tanks, cannons, guns and unlimited ammunition as well as all sorts of provisions, and with endless supply of everything and other facilities, attacked Darbar Sahib Complex to capture just 444 square feet area; and, on the other hand, just a few ordinary Sikhs, between 40 and 100 as per different estimates, who did not have even proper training to fire guns, and had nothing to eat or drink and no back up or supply for all the period of battle, without having a wink of sleep for more than three long days, resisted such a mammoth army for more than three days; hence this was perhaps the greatest battle of resistance in the history of the world.

Devestations inside and around Darbar Sahib
After the battle was over, though the Kotha Sahib (where Guru Granth Sahib was kept every night) most of the the building of Akal Takht had turned into rebbles, so were the water tank (in Guru Ram Das Saran) as well as the top of the historic Ramgarhia Bungas. To quote an eye witness: “I saw these building two weeks after the terrific bombardment which were razed to the ground. I was shocked to se the extant of cruelty and brutality committed by the Army on its own people. Perhaps the Army had treated the innocent Sikh victims as enemies. General Brar when addressing the Army Jawans, before the attack had used the word ‘enemy’ for those inside the Complex...”[13]

A day after the Army finally occupied Akal Takht, it produced Kirpal Singh, the caretaker of the Takth before TV, and the latter announced that the Kotha Sahib was perfectly OK; he did not say that the rest of the building had been fully destroyed; the man who was to act as the ‘custodian’ of the building had lied; even if he lied in order to save his life, he had exhibited his cowardice; besides this was also an act of sacrilege of the Takht and the office he was holding.

By the time the Army had taken over the Sikhs had been performing services at Darbar Sahib; though there were two of them and they continued it one after the other; but, when the Army occupied it, it killed the person who was performing services and stopped recitation of Guru Granth Sahib; it was, thus, suspended for the first time in the past 222 years. The Army restarted service on the 8th of June but no Sikh was allowed to enter Darbar Sahib for 21 days (on the 25th of June 1984 only a few persons were allowed entry, for a short time; and, it was sealed again when the Army observed anger and disdain for the Army, on the faces and in the eyes of even those selected visitors); it remained under the occupation of the Army up to September 1984.

Not only Akal Takht, Ramgarhia Bunga and watertank but even the Darbar Sahib had been badly damaged; there were more than 350 signs of bullets on this building.[14] When the India Army occupied Akal Takht, two Sikhs, one of whom was blind of both eyes, were still there in side the central hall (wrongly known as centro centrum) of Darbar Sahib; they were attending Guru Granth Sahib; the Indian Army entered this place and shot at the Sikh reading Scripture;[15] later he was identified as Bhai Awtar Singh of Purowal.[16]

After this the Army took possession of even money and golden ornaments, which were the offerings made by the visitors; (the army had also taken possession of the money found in the S.G.P.C. treasury); total gold carried away by the Army, from the whole of the Darbar Sahib Complex, was about four quintals of gold as well as some diamonds; besides the Army also took away a large number of other valuable items including TV sets, VCRs, refrigerators and other electronic gadgets. Several soldiers also took away money, watches, golden ornaments snatched by them from the Sikhs arrested by them. Per chance the Army did not know about the Tosha Khana (the treasure house) of Darbar Sahib which is on the first floor of the Darshani Deodi, otherwise it (the Army) would have taken away this too; in this Tosha Khana there are kept precious things, gold and diamonds and other rare relics worth billions of rupees; howver, during the Army fire a precious canopy, studded with diamonds, which had been presented by the Chief of Hyderabad State, in early nineteenth century, had already been burn.

To quote a London newspaper: “Outside the Golden Temple scores of buildings have been reduced to rubble. Flies outnumber people who stand around, in mournful groups, ouside their damaged homes. Foreign reporters have not been allowed inside the inner walled city which has been badly damged by shell-fire. Four of the seven bazaars have been hit by shells and partly destroyed.”[17]

To quote another newspaper: “Hundreds of houses and shops surrounding the Temple, the hub of the city, were reduced to rubble in the crossfire.[18] As a conservative estimate, more than 500 buildings have been destroyed. Many of those who died are believed to have been indoors when the ancient building collapsed under fire. Bodies are still being dug from debris. All the bodies can not be recovered till the entire area is demolished. The destruction has left nearly 30000 people homeless.”[19]

According to the correspomdence of the Daily Telegraph (London): “The Akal Takht looks like it has been bombed. It looks like a building in Berlin after War. Everything in the Complex has been riddles with bullets and there was still a stench of death in the air.”[20]
(Stress, in bold letters, is mine – author).

Weapons exhibited by the Army
A few days later, the Indian Army released pictures and made an exhibition of several weapons claiming that those had been recovered from Darbar Sahib; when the media questioned that most of the weapon displayed by the army were brand new and shining, the officials had no answer; the truth is that all these were brought by the Army in order to defame the Sikh militants; had those been the weapons belonging to the militants then at least some of these must have been damaged by heavy bombardment. Moreover, for the past many months there was complete blockade of Darbar Sahib by para-miltary forces; hence it was not possible to smuggle them into the Complex without the consent or collaboration of the Government or the forces. Furthermorethe total number of the weapns exhibited was not more than 250; commenting on this General Jagjit Arora (of Bangadesh fame) said: ‘Not more than 250 persons who would have used them.’

How Many Persons died?
The Government India’s ‘White Paper’ (which is just a bundle of lies) calims that 83 soldiers[21] and 493 Sikhs were killed in the Army attack; it also mentions that 59 persons died or were injured in other Gurdwaras[22]. It is shame that a Government is not willing to tell truth about the casualties. The non-offcial accounts mention the number of the casualties between three and eight thousand;[23] according to Sarna 1208 soldiers and 122 Sikh defenders were killed; besides the Army killed 3228 Sikh pilgrims too; the Government claimed that 287 soldiers and 121 Sikhs were wounded, whereas according to Sarna, the number of the wounded soldiers was around 3000, 12 Sikh defenders and 1526 Sikh pilgrims and Bangadeshis, who were staying there to board train the following day; similarly, according to this source, the number of Sikhs arrested (mostly pilgrims) was 1592 from Darbar Sahib[24] and 796 from other Gurdwaras and 2324 from other places in the Punjab (a total of 4712).[25]

The number of the Sikhs killed was so high due t two reasons: 1. “The army which had suffered a heavy toll in the three days battle went berserk and killed every Sikh to be found iside the temple complex. They were hauled out of the rooms, brough to corridors in the circumference of the temple and with hands tied to their backs[26] were shot in cold blood. Among the victims were many old men, women and children.”[27] 2. “The Army may be operating under ‘take-no-prioners’ order.”[28]In other words the Indian Army had perpetrated brutalities on innocent persons, several of them were children. It belies the statement by K. Sunderji, the Chief of this ‘Operation’ who said that “We went inside the premises of Golden Temple Complex with humility in our hearts and prayers on our lips”[29]; whereas the truth is that having suffered heavy losses the Indian Army behaved even ordinary Sikh passengers as a savage animal who would pounce upon a lamb.

Honouring Brutal Sodiers
During the attack on Darbar Sahib, the Indian Army had behaved as brutal enenmies; no warnings, no attempts to save inncent pilgrims, indiscrimate killings, inhuman treatment with the dead, not handing over the dead to their relatives, keeping no records of the dead, buring of bodies without identification, cremating the deadbodies by puring kerosene oil and petrol on them, perpetrating atrocites on the arrested Sikhs by keeping them in small cells without water and thus killing several of them, killing those prisoners who begged for water (this being the hottest month of the years), detaining babies and children (for months) were among the great achievents of the Indian Army etc were the ‘achievements’ of the India Army. What the Indian Army did had no parallels in the world history; most ferocious invaders had not behaved in such savage manner; still the Indian Government presented these inhuman soldiers and generals with gallantry Awards, honours, decoration strips, promotions etc for thir ‘heroic acts’; this special ‘Award Ceremony’ was performed on the 10th of July 1985. It is amazing to note that the Indian Government had not honoured the brave soldiers who had performed acts of chivalry during the battles of 1962, 1965 and 1971; honouring of those who had perpetrated atriciites on its own people and had crossed all the limits of inhuman acts was shocking and shameful; however it exposed the Sikh-hatred of the Indian regime; further shocking is that these ‘Awards’ were given by Sikh looking President; so devoid of self respect he was!

Why This Day was especially Chosen?
The Indian Government knew that the 4th of June 1984 was the anniversary of the martyrsdom of Guru Arjan Sahib, the founder of the Darbar Sahib (and son of the founder of the city of Amritsar) hence thousands of Sikhs, from various parts of the Punjab and other places, were sure to visit to make obeisance; besided an Akali agitation was also going on; that day a 1000 stong jatha of Nachhatar Singh Bhalwan had also arrived to court arrest on the following day; the Government chose this day especially so as to show the world that the number of the miltants was so high. Even if we accept that the Army did not know about these two points still, on the first of June, several senior officials of the Army had taken a round of the Darbar Sahib on their ‘spying mission’ and had observed that the number of the visitor there was always in thousands; they could have given an ultimatum to the visitors to come out (the Army could arrest and invesitagate their credentials to separate militants from ordinary visitors); no such untimatum was given, no announcement was made, no offer to surrender was made; on the other hand there is ample evidence that those who surrendered were indiscriminately killed by the Army because did not want arrests; hence liquidations. There is ample evidence that the soldiers went around the Guru Ram Das Saran (hostel for the visitors) as well as in the rooms in the parikarama (periphery) and threw hand gernates in every room killimg whosoever was there;[30]more than one thousand Sikhs were killed in this action.

However, the Army did make some arrests too; it seems it had special instructions that Longowal Akali Dal and his associates should not be harmed (it is this point which creates doubt that they had at least some secret understanding with the Government; however, the letters, purported to have been written by them to and from the Government and the RAW, attributed to them are fake ones). When the Army had occupied the Saran, General Brar had aksed Lt. Colonel K. Bhaumik (who was the incharge of this part of the Darbar Sahib Complex) to find Longowal, Tohra and their associates; but, as there was no electricity, he had to face difficulty; however, the latter finally succeeded in finding them with the help of two Sikhs from among a group of those who had been arrested by the Army from Teja Singh Samundari Hall (the office of the S.G.P.C.). These two Sikhs, escorted by Major H.K. Palta, took the soldies to a room where Longowal, Tohra, Bibi Amarjeet Kaur, Bhan Singh, Balwant Ramuwalia etc were sitting; by this time Harminder Singh Sandhu and Manjit Singh (brother of Bhai Amrik Singh) too arrived there and begged the Akalis to tell the Army that they were their (Akalis’) associates; soon after the Army escorted all of them safely to the military vehicles and took them to their camp.

As mentioned earlier that the Army had arrested some Sikhs from the Teja Singh Samundari Hall; their number was about 350; all of them were brought out in open; with in a few minutes a grenade fell among this gathering killing more than 70 of them; Gurcharan Singh (who had master-minded the killing of Sodhi) too was one of these. The Army claimed that the grenade had been thrown by the militants but it seems to be wrong because by that time the Army had occupied all that zone; had this been an act by an miltant then the Army would have fired shots towards the direction from where the grenade had been thrown; but this was not done hence this was an act by the Army itself; moreover if it was thrown by the miltants then they would have targeted the soldiers.[31]

Babies and Children sent to Jails
The Indian Army killed thousands of pilgrims who had gone to Darbar Sahib to make obeisance, some of them were carrying infants or were accompanied by small children; several children were killed when the soldiers threw handgernades in every room of the Darbar Sahib Complex but those who survived were taken into custody and sent to jails; tese children were aged between two and tweleve; 39 of thse children were kept in Ludhiana Jail; and these innocent babies who had been branded as ‘terrorists’ were graded in three categories: very dangerous, dangerous and potentially dangerous. These children had no one to attend, the leder (tweleve years old) would console the two years old babies; however they did get food (whatsoever its standard) in jail, every day there were tears and cries, the children begged to be sent home to their parents (they did not know that their parents had been killed and cremated by the Army).

As per the Indian Laws no child under the age f sixteen can be arrested or lodged in a jail or detained in a police station; this is categorically prohibited under the Children Act 1960 and the East Punjab Act 1976 but these acts were not applicable to the Sikh children; the Army, the jail authorities, the C.B.I. refused to bother for these Acts; when the Human Rights organisations brought this inhuman treatment of babies, the Government officials, including the Governor, they did not bother; perhaps for them the Sikhs had no human rights. Finally, when Kamla Devi Chattopadhya, a philanthropist social worker, approached the Supreme Court, these children were released; even here, the Jail Superintendent tried to ditch the Court order, some of them were transferred to Nabha Jail who could not released at that time and languished in jals for several years;[32] when released, some of them had become physical and mental wrecks.[33]

Plundering of the Sikh Archieves
By the evening of the 5th of June 1984, the India Army had completely occupied the whole North-East (Braham Buta Akhara to Guru Ram Das Saran) and South-East (Guru Ram Das Saran to Ghanta Ghar on the South of Darbar Sahb, including Baba Atal); and it was from the roof of the Sikh Reference Library that the Indian Army was observing the scenario of Akal Takht. At that time the Library was locked; the Indian Army broke open the lock and took possession of it. On the 7th of June, when the Army had occupied Akal Takht too, it ordered 200 boxes in which all the precious and rare books, manuscripts, relics, rare newspapers etc were packed in these boxes; besids there were hundreds of handwritten volumes of Guru Granth Sahib, some of which were as old as from seventeenth century, were also packed and taken away.[34] After this the wooden racks and newspapers of contemporary period were set on fire and, later, it announced that the Library caught fire in cross-firing; this fact was denied by Davinder Singh Duggal, in charge of the Library, who was present in the adjoining quarter, which was his residence. The Army took away the precious archieves with it which remained at Merrut Cantinement for some time; it was never returned to the Sikhs (at least up to the end of 2011). The Army carried away not only the Sikh Reference Library but also all the papers, account books, proceedings and other records of the S.G.P.C. and the Akali Dal and these too were never returned. Damage to the Sikh Museum too was enormous; 132 precious paintings had been ravaged by the bullets; besides the Army had captured the Central Sikh Museum (situated on the first floor of Clock Tower) also; from here too, the Army took away several precious items including some historical paintings, rare coins, picture albums, a rosary presented by Maharaja Daleep Singh and a hand embroidered picture of Guru Nanak presented by the famous Pakistani singer Malika Pukhraj and her daughter Tahira.

Later, on the 14th of June, Davinder Singh Duggal, who had been arrested on the 7th of June, from his residence in the Darbar Sahib Complex, was brought to the Library by the Army and asked to ‘take charge’ of the Library; when he said ‘where is the Library’ he was told that he had no option but to sign a typed receipt which said ‘I have taken charge of the Sikh Reference Library’; Duggal added a sentence ‘I have taken charge of the ashes of the Library’ and signed it.[35]

Cremation of (insult to) the dead-bodies
The total loss of life in this Army attack was around than 6000, out of which more than 1200 were the soldiers of the Indian Army; funeral of the soldiers was conducted by their respective units. On the other hand, the authorities did not bother to identify or even to record the number of the casualties on the Sikh side. “When General Dyer killed people in Jallianwala Bagh, the dead bodies were given to theri relatives but strangely our own Army killed our own people and did not return the bodies to their relatives.”[36] To dispose off the deadbodies of the Sikhs the Army tried to enage first sme truck-cleaners and other labour but when they refused, the sweepers were engaged to carry the deadbodies to the cremation ground but as the bodies had been lying there for the past two or more days, hence decomposed and stinking; first the sweepers refused even to to touch them; finally, when the Army supplied them bottles of rum and big sum of money they agreed.[37] As most of the dead-bodies had become highly discomposed, when the sweepers carried them to the trucks, limbs fell down and flesh came into their hands; as a result they collected fallen limbs in turbans and dupattas (scarfs) of the dead Sikh, and put these pieces in garbage-carrying vessels, buckets and stretchers and loaded them into the garbage trollies; every where pieces of flesh and pools of blood, at places even ankle-deep congealed blood, created a grotesque scene. After this hen these bodies were taken to Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital for post mortem; first doctors expressed their in ability to perfrom autopsy but when threatened of dire consequences they had to make formalties of post-mortem as an eye-wash as they faced big problem in performing; post-mortem of decomposed bodies; and, after this, these dead-bodies were again loaded in garbage trollies like dead animals and taken to the nearby Chatiwind Crematorium where these were burnt by pouring kerosene oil, diesel and petrol on them because there was not enough wood to burn them.[38] As the dead-bodies had been rottening for three days the stench of the decomosed bodies and their burning with kerosene oil remained in the air for several weeks.

To quote Chelanney: “Bodies were being brought in munciple garbage trucks round the clock since early 6 June; ‘we have been really busy; to ad to our woes, we don’t have enough wood to burn the dead, and we have been cremating them in heaps of twenty or more’, said a crematory official. Near the Golden Temple I saw an estimated 50 corpses in a rubbish lorry that had sewage sill smeared on its outer body. From the back of the grey truck, at least two masculine legs were sticking out and from the left one could see the hanging forehead and the long flowing hair on an apparently unturbanned Sikh. As I peeped into the truck from the back, I could see dead bodies of at least two women and a child. That night it was difficult to sleep. I kept thinking of the dead bodies.”[39]
According to a solider, some of the deadbodies of the Sikhs were even thrown into the rivers Raavi and Beas: “On the morning of June 6, the Golden Temple Complex was like a graveyard. Bodies lay all around in buildins, on the parkarma and in the sarovar. The Sun was shining and stench from bodies was becoming unbearable. Bidies of Jawans were identified and hand over to their respective regiments. I myself carried the bodies of three soldiers on my shoulders. Each regiment conducted the funeral rites of their various Jawans. The civilians, who died, about 1500 of them, were piled in trollies and carried away. A lot of them were thrown into the rivers. The battle was a tragic one. I could noteat anything. Food made me sick. I used to drink lots of rum and go to sleep.”[40]

This soldier’s confession of drinking of a lot of rum is confirmed by the fact that all of the Indian Army who joined attack on Darbar Sahib were give regular supply of whiskey; as per records of the Army Canteens in the Punjab, the Army bought seven hundred thousand bottles of rum, thrity thousand havles (of bottles) of whisky, sixty thousand halves of brandy and sixty thousand beer bottles. The soldiers were also supplied thousands of packs of cigarettes too; the soldiers were seen openly smoking in the Darbar Sahib complex.[41]

The Hindus Celebrate Killings of the Sikhs
When the Army had taken full control of Darbar Sahib; it revealed the news to the local Hindus who had been serving the Army officials with tea, fruit, sweets and other refreshments since the 4th of June; the Army brought some senior Hindus to let them have a look at the deadbody of Baba Jarnail Singh Bhindranwala; after returning to their streets, these Hindu groups began dancing as if they had achieved their greatest victory of life; this was followed by distribution of sweets to the soldiers and the Hindus of the town; some Hindu woment went to the extent of performing worship of the Hindu Army officers; the Hindus celebrated this as a victory of the Hindu community over the Sikh nation; in fact the Army too had fought as if it was on war with the Sikhs as a nation and not the Sikh miltants or Khalistanis or Bhindranwala.

Fanatic Hindu Politician Support Indira Gandhi’s Action
The attack on Darbar Sahib by Indira Gandhi was reacted to differently by different leaders; the R.S.S. chief Balasaheb Deoras,[42] Atal Bihari Vajpaee[43], the B.J.P. (its Executive even passed a reolution to this effect)[44], Lok Dal leader Chowdhry Charan Singh,[45] Janta Party leaders Madhu Dandvate,[46] Ram Krishan Hegde,[47] Ravinder Varma and Raj Narayan[48], former Prime Minister Morarji Desai and former Deputy Prime Minsiter Y.B. Chavan[49] and all other Hindu fundamentalists and even the C.P.I. and the C.P.M. (both the Communist Parties) supported Indira Gandhi’s attack;[50] none of them, however, tried to know the truth behind the attack and what had happened there at Amritsar. On the other hand, Janta Party President Chander Sheikhar[51] and another senior Janta leader Subramaniam Swamy,[52] Andhra Chief Minister N.T. Rama Rao[53] strongly condemned the attack.

International Press condemns Indira Gandhi
Tha attack on Darbar Sahib was condemned by the international media in strong words; to quote a few of them:
“Mughal emperors and British Governors alike tried military solutions to the Sikh problem and succeeded only in adding to the rolls of martyrs, chersished by the pround and prickly people. Sikhs also have long memories. They have never forgotten or forgiven the day in 1919 when General Dyer ordered his troops to open fire in the sacred city of Amirtsar and Mrs. Gandhi may well have cause to rue the day she did the same.” (R. H. Greenfield, in The Sunday Telegraph, dated 10.6.1984).

“While the impact of Indira Gandhi’s action cannot yet be measured, she can be sure of a heart-felt vote of thanks from the Hindus in the north-east.” (Michael Hamlyn, in The Times, dated 9.6.1984).
“Historical parallels may be dangerous, but last week’s killings in the Golden temple and the Amritsar massacre of 1919 hve some remarkable similarities.” (The Sunday Times, dated 10.6.1984).

“The 1984 battle of Golden Temple, like the 1919 Amritsar Massacre (Jallianwala Bagh), marks the beginning of a new potentially turbulent chapter in the Indian history. The chapter which opened with the 1919 massacre ended with the departure of the British. The new one is pnly ten days old, anmd no one can say how it will end.” (Robin Lusting, in The Observer, dated 17.6.1984).

From among foreign countries only Russia supported Indira Gandhi’s action and said that she had succeeded in crushing a U.S.A. inspired conspiracy.
It is widely believed that the Russian K.G.B. and military expertise was available to the Indian Army; even the Israeli Mossad and the British counter-insurgency experts had been consulted by the Indian Government; within previous few months, Gary Saxena and R.N. Kay, the two officers of the India secret service (RAW) made several trips to London to seek expertise.[54]

Attack on another more than 74 Gurdwaras
Though the Indian Government declared that it wanted to ‘free Darbar Sahib of the terrorists’ but this was all lie, blatant lie; had this been so then what was the need of putting siege to so many Gurdwaras throughout the Punjab. The fact is that, along with the Darbar Sahib, there were seventy-four other Gurdwaras, thrity seven of them of historical significance, which were simultaneously stormed by the Indian troops on the pretext of ‘flushing the terrorists’. At all these places the Army killed scores of innocent Sikhs especially the youth.
At Patiala, the Indian Army put siege to the historical Gurdwara Dukh Niwaran; without any warning the Army began firing at the Gurdwara; after this it arrested all the Sikh youth whe had gone there to make obeisance, lined them up and killed them in cold blood; the killer soldiers asked them ‘Do you still want Khalistan?’ and shot them at point blank range through their temples. The Army accepted killing 20 Sikhs but as per the doctors, who held postmrtem of the dead, the number was 56.

At Chamkaur Sahib too the Indian Army put siege to the Gurdwara; no one allowed entering or coming out; on the 7th of June 1984, when an elderly, 70 years old, Sikh came out to answer the call of nature, he was shot dead in cold blood. Here too the Army showered the Gurdwara building with bullets, one could see several signs of them even on the 14th of June; at Chamkaur Sahib 14 Sikh youngmen were arrested.[55]

At Muktsar, the Army was still very aggressive; it put siege to the historical shrine Darbar Sahib; like Chamkaur here too no one allowed entering or coming out; the Army suddenly began firing at the Gurdwara; the vistors who had gone there to make obeisance could not have dreamt that the Army could attack that Gurdwara too as there had never been any miltant action in that town. In the firing by the Army several Sikhs were killed; the rest were arrested by the Army; the arrested were treated mercilessly; their hands and legs were tied with their turbans; they were kicked and hit with rifle buts. When a detainee requested for water he was abused; when some one requested for first aid, he was shot dead. During those days, kar sewa (voluntary service) of the Gurdwara building was being done by (Baba) Harbans Singh; the Army detained him too; he and his attendants and other volunteers were searched, harassed, insulted and kicked. The Army action continued for several days. Several Sikhs died here; the Army put their bodies in trailors and trollies and carried them outside the toen and burnt them by putting kerosene oil and diesel on them. Here, the Army ran amuck and desecrated the Gurdwara time and again; they smoked even the main hall; besides, the Army broke open the golak (the box where people put cash offerings) and took away the money; the stores of the the kitchen and other movable precious articles of the Gurdwara were also plundered. The same happened at Tarn Taran, Moga, Fatehgarh Sahib, Chowk Mehta, the dera of Bhindran-Mehta Jatha, and several other Gurdwaras where a large number of innocent Sikhs were killed by the Indian Army. It is intriguingly astonishing that the savagery of the Army, killing of and hatred for the Sikhs was alike at all the places in the Punjab; it seems that before launching attack on the Punjab, the soldiers had been briefed for this treatment. Another important point for record is that the Army did not sieze any arms from any Gurdwara in the Punjab.

[1] Darshi, op. cit, pp. 109-110.
[2] It is allegded that he was a senior member of the Nirankari cult, which had killed 13 Sikhs in 1978.
[3] According to A.R. Darshi, General Gauri Shankar was appointed as the Security Advsor to the Governor and R. S. Dyal was ‘immediate subordinate’ to Lt. General Sunderji. (The Gallant Fighter, p. 109).
[4] Such heavy artillery, which is used only in open field battles, was arrayed against the defenders of Darbar Sahib, on a Complex where thousands of pilgrims were staying for the night; no warning was given; no one was asked to surrender.
[5] The Indian Army had already brought several tanks and at least 13 tanks were used in this ‘Operation’.
[6] Later, Harjinder Singh Jinda and Sukhdev Singh Sukha punished General Vaidya in his own city Pune, on the 10th of August 1986; both were, later, arrested and sentenced to death; they were hanged on the 9th of October 1992.
[7] According to a hearsay account, a Sikh boy of 16 years of age, who had tied explosives to his body, jumped before the tank and destroyed it; and, due to this the tank got bogged down near the Baba Deep Singh Memorial; much later it had to be removed with much difficulty.
[8] Oppression in Punjab, p. 61.
[9] Chellaney, Brahma, An Eye Account, an article in Abida Samiuddin’s book, The Punjab Crisis: Chanllenge and Response (Delhi, 1985), p. 181.
[10] Sunday Times, dated 17.6.1984.
[11] For the Sikhs it was not the first unequal battle; they had already fought battles at Chamkaur (7-8.12.1705), Muktsar (29.12.17065), Lohgarh (29-30.11.1710), Gurdas Nangal (April to Decemebr 1715), Akal Takht Amritsar (1.12.1764), Saragarhi etc where a few of them fought against thousands of invaders.
[12] Tully, op, cit, 175.
[13] Darshi, A.R., op. cit., p. 112.
[14] Later, these signs were removed by the S.G.P.C. when Tohra was the President and Manjit Singh Calcutta was the Secretary.
[15] This volume of Guru Granth Sahib too had been hit by a bullet; this was a handwritten volume from 1830.
[16] Surya, August 1984; Nayyar, op cit, p. 102.
[17] Daily Observer, dated 9.6.1984.
[18] It is not true that the buildings had been destroyed in crossfire; the miltants had not fired a single shot on the buildings adjascent to Darbar Sahib or around it; the militants aimed only at the soldiers trying to proceed towards Akal Takht; hence the houses were destroyed by the shelling by the Army.
[19] Daily Guardian, dated 26.6.1984.
[20] Daly Telegraph, dated 15.6.1984.
[21] In September 1984 Rajiv Gandhi had admitted this figure as 700. (Nayyar, op. cit., P. 108); later, the Army too admitted that ‘troops had to pay high price and suffered heavy casualties’ (Harminder Kaur, op. cit., p 47).
[22] White Paper, p. 169.
[23] Nayyar, op. cit, p. 109.
[24] Brar, K.S., Operation Blue Star (Delhi 1992).
[25] Sarna, Jasbir Singh, History o f Sikh Students Federation, (unpublished).
[26] This is confirmed by Brahma Challeney also: “the Sikhs killed during the attack were shot at point-blank range, with their hands tied at the back with their turbans.” (op. cit. p. 185):
[27] Kumar, Ram Narayan and George Sieberer, The Sikh Struggle (Delhi 1991), p. 265.
[28] Mary Anne Weaver, in The Sunday Times, dated 10.6.1984.
[29] Darshi, A.R., op. cit., p. 116.
[30] Bhanwar, Harbir Singh, in his book Diary de Panne has given details of such acts; also see ‘Oppression in Punjab’ by C.F.D.
[31] Though most of the Sikhs present in the Darbar Sahib Complex had been killed by the Army in cold blood, still more than 350 of those who had been arrested from the headquarters of the S.G.P.C. were taken to the Army cantonement (some of them died there for want of water as they had been kept in a small confined place where they were not allowed even water; it being the hottest day of he years many of them died); those who survived were, later, lodged in Jodhpur Jail (in Rajashan); they were not tried by any court and were not released for many years; may of them had already become insane before they were released.
[32] Thukral, Gobind, Atrocities on Sikh Children, a report published in weekly India Today, dated 30.9.1984, Kumar, Ram Narayan, op. cit., p. 291.
[33] Oppression in Punjab, pp. 76-77.
[34] There were about 20000 books, about 500 handwritten volumes of Guru Granth Sahib and several relics. (The Tribune, dated 4.7.1984).
[35] Oppression in the Punjab, pp. 66-67.
[36] Ibid, p. 31 (statement of Kirpal Singh).
[37]Kirepaker, Subash, in The Punjab Story, edited by Kuldip Nayyar and Khushwant Singh, op. cit, p. 83.
[38] All this was carried under the supervision of Ramesh Inder Singh, the then D.C.of Amritsar.
[39] Chellany, op. cit., p. 182.
[40] Monthly Probe India, August 1984.
[41] Statement of Bhan Singh in Harbir Singh Bhanwar’s Diary de Panne.
[42] Indian Express, dated 12.6.1984
[43] While speaking on the Indian Government’s ‘White Paper on Punjab Situation’, on the 25th of July 184, in the Lok Sabha, Vajpayee said: “First of all I want to congratulate those officers who freed Harmandir Sahib, sacred to all the Indians, from terrorists by sacrificing their lives and putting their precious lives in danger…The army had been given a delocate responsibility and the army should be felicitated for accomplishing their duty efficiently and bravely…” (Proceedings of the Lok Sabha, dated 25.7.1984).
[44] Hindustan Times dated 10.6.1984. The B.J.P. leaders went to the extent of calling her ‘Durga’ a fictitious Hindu goddess which was shown defeating the demons in fiction works.
[45] He called it ‘swift, yet restrained, operation in flushing out terrorists from Golden Temple Comlex’ (Hindustan Times, dated 10.6.1984).
[46] Indian Express, dated 8.6.1984.
[47] Ibid.
[48] Ibid.
[49] Ibid.
[50] Hindustan Times, dated 8.6.1984.
[51] Later, Chandersheikhar sent a fact finding team to the Punjab to know the truth. But, in 1991, when Chander Sheikhar had bocame the Prime Minister of India, in collaboration with and under the blessing of Rajiv Gandhi, he exhibited an altogher different attitude; rather he behaved as a fanatic Hindu and even went to the extent of threatening another masscare of the Sikhs. Earlier he had been demanding an apology for this invasion but when he captured power he himself did not apologise (even other Prime Ministers e.g. I. K. Gujjral, V.P. Sinh, Devegauda, Vajpayee, and even puppet primi minister Manohan Singh, never apologised for attack on Darbar Sahib and atrocities committed on the Sikhs, in spite of the fact that they had known the truth behind the attack; they simply called it ‘sad’, ‘unfortunatee’ and ‘it should not happen again’).
[52] Monthly Surya, July 1984.
[53] Ibid.
[54] The Sunday Times, dated 10.6.1984, Nayyar, Kuldip, op. cit., p. 56.
[55] Indian Express, dated 15.6.1984.


1947-2014 (Archived)
Attack on Darbar Sahib (Part 3)
By Harjinder Singh Dilgeer · 2 minutes ago
From 'Sikhs: Past & Present' journal of Sikh Studies.

For further details, read: SIKH HISTORY in 10 Volumes by Dr Harjinder Singh Dilgeer (It is in volume 7).

Attack on Darbar Sahib (Part 3)

Angry Sikh folks march towards Amritsar, hundreds killed
As there was complete curfew in the whole of the Punab since thenight of the 3rd of June, telephone lines were dead, the publication of the newspapers remained suspended (no paper was printed for more than a week), the AIR did not say any word till for the first two days of the invasion; and on the third day of battle, on the 6th of June, the first news people received was the Government propaganda telling that the Army had attacked Darbar Sahib and had ‘accomplished’ mission; it broadcast the news of some three hundred casualties and, moreover, it did not mention the destruction of Akal Takht. The broadcast was made in such a style that it should rather impress the people that the Army had done some noble cause without resorting to any extreme action.

But, even this could not silence the Sikhs and hearing the news of attack on Darbar Sahib, every Sikh got enraged; from every nook and corner, especially in the districts of Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Firozpur and Kapurthala, thousands of Sikhs marched towards Amritsar; there was mass upsurge everywhere, in the villages and the towns alike. The Army helicopters flying over in several kilometres around Amritsar spotted hundreds and thousand of Sikhs gathering in many places; and soon they began marching towards Amritsar. The Army helicopters spotted three major points, at Gohalwar village (about twenty kilometres on Amritsar- Taran taran Road on the western side of the city), at Raja Sansi and Heir villages (about fifteen kilometres from Amritsar on the eastern side of the city), in villages around Batala and at many other places; at al these places Sikhs in thousands, between ten and thirty thousands each, were spotted marching towards Amritsar; and the crowds were swelling as more and more Sikhs from the village on route too continued joining them.

The Army had taken positions on all the routes to the city of Amritsar but to stop the marching columns from proceeding towards the city, the Army helicopters began bombing these crowds; when people began running for safety, the Army machine guns burst upon them killing several and wounding a very large number of the Sikhs; among the klled was also Gurbachan Singh Tur, a former M.P. The number of casualties at the above-mentioned three places was very high, according to villagers more than five hundred protesters were killed only at Gohalwar village; Chellany, a journalist, got partial information about these killings: “From my three military sources, I gathered that 106 people had been killed between 4 and 10 June by army firing on crowds of Sikh villagers trying to march to the Golden Temple.”[1]

The Rebellions in the Army
The attack on Darbar Sahib hurt every Sikh, the farmers, shopkeepers, workers, students, teachers, soldiers, NRIs all; though the reactions were different with different persons but one thing was common that every Sikh took it as assault on the whole nation. In 1965 and in 1971, the Sikh soldiers had fought for India whole-heartedly; in 1971, it was the Sikh army officers like Subeg Singh and Jagjit Singh Arora who had led India to victory; in 1965 the Into-Pak War was won only by the Sikh soldiers; in 1965, when the Hindu Generals of the India Army had decided to withdraw the Indian Army to the easters side of river Beas; it were the Sikh Generals who swore to save Amritsar because there was Darbar Sahib in this city, founded by Gurus. Now, in 1984, it was the Indian Army which had destroyed Darbar Sahib, it was sure to hurt them and they were supposed to fight for the honour of their Darbar and Guru’s city; hence the Sikh soldiers in different units of the Army rebelled and left their barracks and marched towards Amritsar; and the Sikh soldiers rebelled in ten cantonements;[2] the soldiers’ rebellion was not an organised action, they had acted just sentimentally without being aware of the consequences of desertions to their lives, their career and their families.

The first to rebel were the soldiers of the 9th Batallion of the Sikh Regiment; on the 7th of June 1984, about six hundred Sikh soldiers broke into the regimental armoury, took away weapons and after having a round of the streets of Ganganagar, left for Amritsar.[3] When this news reached Delhi, the soldiers of the Rajputana Rifles were sent to chase the Sikh soldiers; after some hours most of these soldiers were rounded up and brought back; however, some of them crossed to Pakistan, and till today, there is no information about their whereabouts; no one known whether they were detained as prisoners or were, later, used for armed actions in the Punjab.

The maximum desertion took place at Ramgarh (Bihar) where 1461 soldiers of the Sikh Regimental Centre killed their Commanding Officer S.C. Puri, took away a large quantity of arms and ammunition, forcibly took away some private trucks from the city and began their march towards Amritsar; they were chased by 21st Mechanised Infantry Regiment which surrounded them near Shakeshgarh railway station (about 190 kilometres from Ramgarh); in spite of this siege some trucks still escaped and continued their march; they too were chased by the 20th Infantry; here a battle was fought in which 25 Sikh soldiers were killed; the rest were, however, arrested and taken back to Ramgarh; hence none of them could reach Amritsar.[4]

The other major desertions took place at Jammu, Pune, Bombay, U.P. and Chandimandir etc;[5] some of the deserters at Jammu too crossed to Pakistan whose fate is still unknown. Though all these rebellions were suppressed but it shook the Indian administration and jolted the international community.

Later, on the 27th of November 1984, the Indian Government revealed that 2337 Sikh soldiers had rebelled; out of these 67 had been killed and all the rest, barring 31 soldiers who were tntraceable (they might have crossed to Pakistan) were arrested; all the arrested were tried under Army Laws; for most of them Summary Trails were held but 98 were tried under different Laws; summary trial of 2239 rebel soldiers was held and they were court-martialled and dismissed; and most of them were given varied sentences, some of them were give life imprisonmens too.

It is noteworthy that these soldiers, who were employees of the Indian Government and were performing their duties to earn for their families, rebelled when the Darbar Sahib was attacked; on the other hand, the Nihangs, who calim themselves as ‘Guru Di Fauj’ (literally: army of the Guru) did nothing; their soul (dead soul?) did not ***** them; sacrilege of Darbar Sahib and destruction of Akal Takht did not hurt them; they continued enjoying bhang (cannabis) and reading Chandi Di Vaar (and also perhaps Charitropakhayan) and remained living as parasites; nor did the deredaars (cult leaders) react to attack on the Sikh nation and they remained busy in eating luxury food and cohabiting with idiot female devotees; they behaved as being with deal souls.

Zail Singh visits Darbar Sahib
On the 8th of June 1984, Zail Singh, the President of India, was brought to Darbar Sahib to show him the condition of the Complex after the accomplishment of the ‘mission’ by the Indian Army. Zail Singh, wearing (even in extreme summer) spotless white achikan (long coat) and churidar pyjama and a rose flower decorating the long coat (as if he was attending some marriage party) was taken to the central part of the Darbar Sahib only; however, when he entered this central hall, Bhai Surinder Singh Patna,[6] who was performing keertan, sung a poem written by Bhai Gurdas which said ‘when a dog is seated on throne he does not give up his meanness’;[7] this poem was a severe attack on Zail Singh but it did not affect him as he had been openly calling himself as ‘scavanger of Nehru family; every ready even to sweep the house of Indira Gandhi’; he must have seen tanks in parkarma; he must have smelt the stink smitted by the blood and flesh of the deadbodies of the Sikhs; he must have seen the horrible scene of blood-stained parkarma of Darbar Sahib from where he must have entered into and come out of the central hall; he must have seen in the Amritsar sarovar (pool) signs of blood and pieces of flesh of the dead Sikhs; he must have had a look of the building of Akal Takht, then in rubbles; he must have seen debris of the building of the Takht; he must have notices bullet marks every where; he must have seen destruction of the buildings surrounding the Darbar Sahib Complex; but, his eyes did not shed tears at the devastation of the shrine, his heart did not ache at the desecration of the Guru’s place, his soul did not shudder at the colossal destruction and his conscious did not ***** him to protest and shriek. In fact he had sanctioned all that; he was telling lies when he tried to escape his responsibility when he said that he had not signthe ed orders for an attack on Darbar Sahib; even if he had not signed the orders he could have protested and resigned his office[8] which he did not and stuck to his office as a soul-less man with dead conscious, devoid of honour, and as a slave; he came to Amritsar, dressed as a monarch, had a tour around, got his photographs published in newspapers and went back as if nothing had happened; further he justified this attack in his ‘message to the nation’ on the 27th of June 1984; later, on the 10th of July 1985, he even decorated the invading officers of the Army with ‘gallantry’ awards (in fact awards for butchery and savagery).

Sikh Personalities Return Indian Honours and Awards
The uncalled and unjust attack on Darbar Sahib pricked the soul of even intelligentsia and other elite, many of whom were even known as sychopants and yes-men of the Government of India; they returned Government honours and resigned their high paid offices. The first to react was a person like Khushwant Singh, who had always been a supporter of Indira Gandhi and was also a bitter critic of Bhindranwala; on the 8th of June, 1984 (the day Zail Singh had gone to Darbar Sahib to have alook at the ‘achievements’ of the Indian Army), he returned his Padam Bhushan Award against attack on Darbar Sahib;[9] the next to react were Captain Amrinder Singh (Patiala) and Davinder Singh Garcha (Ludhiana), the two M.P.s; on the 11th of June, 1984, they resigned from the Lok Sabha as well as the Congress Party;[10] though Buta Singh too had agreed to resign but later he backed out and rather reported the same to Indira Gandhi); the next to protest was Dr Ganda Singh Sikh historian who returned Padam Bhushan Award to the President of India on the 14th of June; and Sadhu Singh Hamdard and Dr Khushdeva Singh returned Padam Sri Awards on the 16th of June 1984.[11]Similarly, on the 18th of June 1984, Simranjit Singh Mann (former S.S.P. Faridkot), then Group Commandant C.I.S.F. (Home Ministry), wrote a letter (D.O. no. CISF/GHB/SSM/84) to the President of India, narrated how the Sikhs had been and were being persecuted by the India Army, resigned his job.; on the 22nd of June Harbhajan Singh Deol resigned from the membership of the Punjab Public Service Commission.[12]So many Sikh elite expressed their protest against the invasion of Darbar Sahib, however, Amrita Pritam (now she had changed her name to Amrita Imroz by adding name of her boy-friend Imroz as prefix of her name), who claimed to be a poet of people, proved as a dead soul; savage killings at darbar Sahib did not her conscious and she remained as unconcerned as a pig.

Commenting on the return of the Awards and Honours by these Sikhs, the Sunday Times (London) wrote: “Historical parallels may be dangerous but the last week’s killings in the Golden Temple and the Amritsar Massacre of 1919 have some remarkable similarities. Only a few hundred yards separate the sites; the official number of the dead is (so far)[13] roughly the same. In 1919, the poet Tagore handed back his knighthood to the British. In 1984, many prominent and outraged Sikhs have turned over Indian honours to India’s President (who happens to be a Sikh).”[14]

“The 1984 battle of the Golden Temple, like the 1919 Amritsar (Jallianwala Bagh) marks the beginning of a new potentially turbulent chapter in the Indian history. The chapter which opened with the 1919 massacre ended with the departure of the British. The new one is only ten days old, and, no one can say how it will end.”[15]

Protests by the Sikhs around the World
To protest against attack on Darbar Sahib, throughout the world the Sikhs held protest marches; big processionswere taken out at London, Washington, New York, Vancouver, Toronot, Oslo and in several other towns in various parts of the world. On the 10th of June, the procession in London was joined by more than 25000 Sikhs; the Washington, New York, Vancouver and Toronto processions too were in several thousands; at Oslo which had a Sikh population of just two thousands, the Sikh procession was joined by almost everyone including women and children.

Indira Gandhi visits Darbar Sahib
When Indira Gandhi observed reactions of the Sikhs world-wide and return of Awards and Honours by the Sikh personalities, she realised that the Congress had lost the Sikh nation forever. So, to play a drama in the name of making obeisance and for exhibition, she visited Darbar Sahib on the 23rd of June 1984. When Indira Gandhi visited, Kirpal Singh and Sahib Singh, the priest of Akal Takht and Darbar Sahib, ‘welcomed’ her like cheap sychopanths.

[1] Chellany, Brahma, An Eye Aco****, in Samuiddin, Abida, op. cit., p. a82.
[2] Tully, Mark, op. cit., pp. 194-95, Harminder Kaur, op. cit., p. 49.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Indian Express, dated 13.6.1986.
[5] Punjab Times, Lodon, dated 15 and 22.6.1984.
[6] Surinder Singh was, later, tortured by the Army.
[7] Kutta raaj bahaliei fir chakki chattay (Bhai Gurdas, Vaar 35, Pauri 1).
[8] On the other hand, several Sikhs returned Government honours to him (in his capacity as the President) but he never felt ashamed of even getting back those Awards.
[9] Indian Express, dated 9.6.1984.
[10] Ibid, dated 12.6.1984.
[11] Ibid, dated 17.6.1984.
[12] Ibid, dated 23.6.1984.
[13] At that time, the Indian Government had lied that only 493 Sikhs had been killed (in fact the number was about five thousand).
[14] The Sunday Times, dated 15.6.1984.
[15] The Observer (London), dated 17.6.1984.