1984 Anti-Sikh Pogrom The Sikh Pain Of The Golden Temple Assault

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Mai Harinder Kaur

Oct 6, 2006
British Columbia, Canada
The Sikh pain of Golden Temple assault

The Sikh pain of Golden Temple assault

Friday, June 04, 2010
By Momin Iftikhar

Jun 4, this year marks the twenty sixth anniversary of Indian Army’s assault on the holiest of the Sikh shrines, the venerated Golden Temple, in 1984. The seismic jolts that the assault unleashed changed India forever and the tremors of the aftershocks can still be felt. Their latest manifestation was the India Canada diplomatic row when the latter refused to grant visa to personnel belonging to Indian Intelligence Establishment (IB RAW combine) who were to cover the visit of the Indian Prime Minister to Toronto for the G – 20 Summit during Jun. The fact that a strong Sikh Diaspora settled in Canada strongly supports the cause of Khalistan and feels offended by operations of the Indian security agencies in Canada, would certainly have emerged as the single most important factor in rejection of visa applications of Indian officials whose number is said to have run into double digits.

The rise of Sikh separatism , which reached its pinnacle in 1984 was an outcome of several factors, among them the megalomaniac personality of Indira Gandhi , the deepening sense of Sikh alienation caused by a prolonged sense of political deprivation and the messianic leadership of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale who embodied the Sikh aspiration for separation from India. By that time the Sikh community was getting restive and in her attempts to break the hold of the Akai Dal, Indira Gandhi began to turn to Sikh extremists, one of them Bhindranwale, to break the impact of the gathering Sikh political power . The Sant, however, turned out to be a force of nature, impervious to the manipulative designs of Indira. He established himself in Golden Temple and raised the slogan of Khalistan, a separate homeland for Sikhs in India. As the Movement gained momentum Sikh activists of all hues began to gravitate towards him, turning the Temple into the heart of Sikh struggle. Instead of finding a political solution to the deepening crisis, Indira opted for the military alternative – an assault on the Golden Temple was launched on 4 Jun 1984.

The assault by the Indian Army was resolutely resisted by Bhindranwale’s men who, guided by Major General (retired) Shah Beg, put up a valiant resistance. The assaulting infantry troops suffered heavy casualties and the Commanding General, Kuldip Singh realized that the infantry, as he put it later, was “in danger of being massacred”. Tanks were called in but even then it took three days to completely quell the Sikh resistance. Estimates of casualties vary from 600 to upwards of 5000 but even more hurtful for the Sikhs was the destruction of the Akal Takht, the venerable old building that had traditionally represented the seat of Sikh temporal power. Its entire front was destroyed, causing havoc upon 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 were all destroyed. Many irreplaceable items of immense historical value like handwritten copies of the Adi Granth, the Sikh scripture, were lost in the fire that engulfed the Reference Library at the Akal Takht.

Bhindranwale supporters or otherwise, the Sikhs were shocked by the uncontrolled cruelty of the Operation and generated a backlash that rocked the secular foundations of the Indian State. Bhindrawale emerged as a Sikh saint and as a martyr to the cause of Khalistan; instantly turning into a folk hero. About 5000 Sikh soldiers, calling themselves ‘Dharmi Faujis’ deserted the Indian Army. Prominent Sikh leaders and soldiers, who had been honored by Indian government, returned their medals and certificates. Indra Gandhi paid for the indiscretion of violating the sanctity of the Golden Temple with her life when two of her most trusted Sikh bodyguards – Satwant Singh and Beant Singh – assassinated her on 31 Oct 1984. The anti Sikh violence that followed her assassination led to the killing of at least 3000 Sikhs by frantic Hindu mobs. Anti Sikh violence gave a boost to the demand for Khalistan and a full-fledged insurgency picked up inside Punjab extending to attacks on Indian assets in foreign lands. Air India’s plane was blown up on June 23, 1985 which killed all its crew and 329 passengers. Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, who signed the Rajiv-Longowal Accord on 29 July 1985, was killed just three weeks later while praying inside a gurdwara. Gen A.S.Vaidya, who was Indian Army’s Chief of Staff when Operation Blue Star was launched, was gunned down in Pune in August 1985. Chief Minister Beant Singh was blown up along with twelve others by a suicide bomber on July 31 1995 at Chandigarh for letting down the Sikh Cause.

The Sikh pain of desecration of the Golden Temple has continued to simmer ever since. Despite all out Indian efforts to root out leanings of Sikh separatism, the struggle for a separate homeland has survived and continues to pulsate.

The main reason is the failure on part of the Indian state to initiate a genuine process of reconciliation with the battered community. Unless justice is provided, demons released by operation


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
I would caution that this is one writer's account - for the most part a chronology - but there are some things inferred as if proved fact. One is the suggestion that the Air India crash was the work of a Sikh or Sikhs. This has never been proved.
Oct 11, 2009
Gurfateh ji,

By attacking Harmandar Sahib at Amristar in June 1984 has left a deep scar on the psyche of Sikhs no wonder their is world wide demonstrations but it does not ring in ears of Indian govt. and mass genocide that followed in Nov.

Sikh religion stands for equality but it goes down well with Brahimical thought no justice
for the people who lost their loved ones in Sikh riots as well as those who innocent people lost their lives in Golden Temple. Justice delayed is Justice denied and not a
single one has been charged.

Sikhs are not going to get justice from Indian courts this absolutely clear.

Now by attacking 40 Gurdwaras at the same time attacking on holy festival where they
knew that people would be coming for this occasion the main reason was to cause as
much damage as possible and mass killings happened inside the holy premises. This is not
a hidden fact the whole world knows about this!

Moreover Sant Jarnail Singh Khalsa Bhinderwale never asked for Khalistan in turn he said
" We would like to live in India as equal citizens, if Indira Gandhi wishes, But If she offers
sperate state for Sikhs, we would not make the mistake of 1947".

This clear that media at that time blown things out of propation and the media highlighted in such a way that Punjab was completely out of control, at that same time
Movements in Assam and Nagaland was much worse than Punjab which was never stated by media.

Other thing is that what could band of rebels of Bhinderwale could match 100,000 soldirers from Indian army who are well equipped and well trained surrounded and killed
so many innocent people for one person sounds ridiscous.

Sikh religion has always faced oppression the day United Khalsa stands nobody can
subdue Sikhi when Sikhs are joined in the presence Sahib" Guru Granth Sahib ji" Maharaj.

Falsehood will come to an end, O Nanak, and Truth will prevail in the end. (Ang 953)


Gurveen Singh

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