Chronology of Events

A situation which could have been resolved without a shot being fired was allowed to deteriorate to the point where the sacred sanctity of a place of worship was desecrated in the most brutal way with death and destruction. In addition to the followers of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, thousands of innocent pilgrims who had gathered to celebrate a religious festival also lost their lives in the attack.

The Akal Takht, the symbolic seat of supreme Sikh temporal authority was reduced to rubble. Gurdwara Darbar Sahib was damaged with over 300 bullets. The Sikh Reference Library with precious hand written manuscripts of the Gurus was burned to the ground. The Temple treasury Toshakhana with priceless historical artifacts of Maharaja Ranjit Singh was also burned.

Tuesday May 25th
100,000 Indian Army troops are mobilized and deployed throughout Punjab surrounding all important Gurdwars 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 on June 3rd.

As Sant Jarnail Singh Bindranwale sits on the roof of the Langer hall, police snipers open fire on him. They miss and Sikh militants 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 there is a gun battle lasting 5 hours. Using machine guns and mortars the army fires at dissident positions atop 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 dissidents 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 his 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 Howitzer 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.

Prithipal Singh (Sevadar, Akal Rest House)
” At 2 a.m. on June 6 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.”

(Bhan Singh)
“Suddenly there was a big explosion. All hell broke loose. It was pitch dark. People started running back into the verandah and the rooms. I and Abhinashi Singh were sitting next to Gurcharan Singh, the former Secretary of the Akali Dal whom Bhindranwale accused of murdering Sodhi. Gurcharan was shot as he tried to run inside. We realized that soldiers were shooting at us. They thought someone from among the crowd had exploded the grenade. But it was probably thrown by extremists on the water tank overlooking the Guru Ram Das Serai (Hostel). We ran to Tohra’s room and told Longowal what was happening. Longowal came out and shouted at the Major. He said, ‘Don’t shoot these people. They are not extremists. They are employees of the S.G.P.C.’ The Major then ordered his men to stop shooting. Later in the morning we counted at least seventy dead bodies in the compound. There were women and children too.”

Among the dead were 35 women and 5 children. The survivors were made to sit in the courtyard of the Guru Ram Das Hostel until curfew was lifted the next evening. They were not given any food, water or medical aid. People drank whatever water was in puddles in the courtyard from the blown up water tank.

(Karnail Kaur, mother of 3 young children)
“When people begged for water some soldiers told them to drink the mixture of blood and urine on the ground.”

Many of the young men in the group of innocent unarmed civilians were then shot by the soldiers.

(Bhan Singh)
“I saw about 35 or 36 Sikhs lined up with their hands raised above their heads. And the major was about to order them to be shot. When I asked him for medical help, he got into a rage, tore my turban off my head, and ordered his men to shoot me. I turned back and fled, jumping over the bodies of the dead and injured, and saving my life crawling along the walls. I got to the room where Tohra and Sant Longowal were sitting and told them what I had seen. Sardar Karnail Singh Nag, who had followed me, also narrated what he had seen, as well as the killing of 35 to 36 young Sikhs by cannon fire. All of these young men were villagers.”

(Ranbir Kaur, School Teacher)
“Early on the sixth morning the army came into the Guru Ram Das Serai and ordered all of those in the rooms to come out. We were taken into the courtyard. The men were separated from the women. We were also divided into old and young women and I was separated from the children, but I managed to get back to the old women. When we were sitting there the army released 150 people from the basement. They were asked why they had not come out earlier. They said the door had been locked from the outside. They were asked to hold up their hands and then they were shot after 15 minutes. Other young men were told to untie their turbans. They were used to tie their hands behind their backs. The army hit them on the head with the butts of their rifles.”

(Sujjan Singh Margindpuri)
“The young men and some other pilgrims were staying in Room Number 61. The army searched all the rooms of the Serai. Nothing objectionable was found from their room. Nor did the army find anything objectionable on their persons. The army locked up 60 pilgrims in that room and shut not only the door but the window also. Electric supply was disconnected. The night between June 5th and June 6th was extremely hot. The locked-in young men felt very thirsty after some time, and loudly knocked on the door from inside to ask the army men on duty for water. They got abuses in return, but no water. The door was not opened. Feeling suffocated and extremely thirsty, the men inside began to faint and otherwise suffer untold misery. The door of the room was opened at 8 am on June 6th. By this time 55 out of the 60 had died. The remaining 5 were also semi-dead.”

By morning light, there is only sporadic sniper fire from the rubble of the Akal Takht. By late afternoon the army was firmly in control of the Temple complex and curfew was lifted for two hours to allow people who were still in hiding to come out.

(Giani Puran Singh)
“I went to the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) on 5th June around 7:30 in the evening because I had to ensure that religious ceremonies were performed. The moment I stepped on to the parkarma I stumbled across a body. Bullets were flying and I had to take shelter behind each and every pillar to reach the Darshani Deorhi. Another body was lying there. I ran a few yards and reached the Akal Takht. Night prayers start at Harmandir Sahib five minutes after they start at the Akal Takht. I wanted to find out if the path (recitation) had started there. I had a glimpse of Bhindranwale. We did not speak to each other. Around 7:45 I came out of the Akal Takht and ran into the Darshani Deorhi. I ran towards Harmandir Sahib, unmindful of the bullets flying past my ears. I began night prayers. Soon a colleague of mine, Giani Mohan Singh, joined me. Seeing the intensity of the fire we decided to close all the doors, barring the front door. Soon we completed all religious rites. We then took the Guru Granth Sahib to the top room to prevent any damage to the holy book. The Head Priest, Giani Sahib Singh, had given clear instructions that under no circumstances was the Guru Granth Sahib to be taken to the Akal Takht if the conditions were not right.

Looking through the window-pane from the first floor of the Harmandir Sahib, I saw a tank standing on the parkarma with its lights on. I thought for a moment that it was the fire brigade come to collect water from the srowar (holy pool) to put out the fire which was raging in almost every room. A few minutes later my belief was shattered when I saw the vehicle emitting fire instead of putting it out. By 10:30 or so around 13 tanks had collected on the parkarma. They had come after crushing the staircase from the eastern wing where Guru Ram Das Serai, the Langer and the Teja Singh Samundari Hall are situated. One after another the cannon fire lit the sky. When the first shell hit the bottom of the Darshani Deorhi, creating a hole in it, I saw the room with the historic chandni (canopy) presented by Maharaja Ranjit Singh catching fire. One after another the big bombs hit the Darshani Deorhi in quick succession, and what was once a lovely building was now on fire. The Toshakhana (Treasury) was also on fire. Occasionally a bullet would hit the Harmandir Sahib. We were 27 people inside, mostly ragis (singers) and sevadars (temple servants).

In the early hours of the morning of 6th June we took the holy book down and performed the religious rites that are performed every day, like maharaj da prakash karna (unfolding the holy book) and reciting hymns from the scriptures. The two side-doors were closed and the front and back doors were open. Bullets kept hitting the wall both inside and outside, ripping off the gold surface at various places. Soon after we finished reciting prayers one of our colleagues, Ragi Avtar Singh was hit. We pulled him into a corner. Another bullet came and hit the holy Granth Sahib. We have preserved this book.

In the meanwhile the pounding of the Akal Takht was continuing. There was no let-up in the fire in other places either. We were thirsty and desperate for water. We crawled to the holy pool to get water for ourselves and for the wounded colleague.

Around 5pm they announced on loudspeakers that those hiding in the Harmandir Sahib should come out and that they would not be shot dead. While myself and Giani Mohan Singh remained inside, others walked out with the arms above their heads.”

Over 300 bullet holes were counted in the Golden Temple itself.

With the lifting of the curfew innocent Sikhs thought that by coming out from hiding they would now be safe. Sadly this was not the case.

(Narinderjit Singh Nada, Temple Public Relations Officer)
“On the fifth night, the night of the real assault, mortars started throwing up plaster. My wife and I and my two daughters decided to go down from our flat on the first floor to the office, which is on the ground floor. At this point I thought of surrendering but I was told by a Bhindranwale man, ‘One more step outside the complex and you are a dead man’. Faced with this threat to my entire family plus the insecurity of the office room, I decided to move down to a small basement where there was a fridge. An exhaust fan outlet in the basement proved a life saver. I could hear soldiers speaking outside and different instructions from their commanders. Next to the basement was another cubicle facing the Temple where a sewadar used to sleep. I heard the army drag out this man. He was shot. Since extremists had been using all possible openings as pill boxes and grenade launchers the soldiers decided to lob grenades into all such openings, including my fan outlet. The minute I heard the order we all moved under a staircase. Minutes later two grenades came in. The splinters took three inches away from most of the walls. But luckily we escaped. We spent the night under the staircase. Eventually at about 11 am on the 6th my wife noticed an officer standing outside. She called out to him to attract his attention and requested him to rescue us. She told him that she had two young daughters. The officer behaved decently and said, ‘Don’t worry I too have two daughters. Nothing will happen to you. Stay put.’ He organized chapattis, pickles and drinking water. He eventually let us out when curfew lifted.

We had to step over dead bodies strewn everywhere. We were taken to the square in front of the main clock tower entrance. The minute the soldiers saw me, a male member of the group, they positioned their rifles on their shoulders with the barrels pointing at me. I think they were about to shoot me when a brigadier who recognized me intervened. We were then led by soldiers across the parkarma to the library side. A lieutenant accompanied us. Upon reaching the other side he asked me to stand against the wall and lined up a firing squad. He asked me to say my prayers. I requested to say good-bye to my wife and the two daughters. At this point the brigadier showed up again and shouted at the young officer, ‘What the hell are you doing!’ The officer said, ‘Sir, I misunderstood your order. I thought this man was to be shot.’

Now we were made to sit on the ground. My hands were tied behind my back. We were about 70 in that lot. All of us were told to keep our heads down. A slight movement of the head resulted in a sharp rifle butt. We spent the whole night sitting there.”

Outside the Temple complex the army troops were on a rampage, killing and looting surrounding houses of Sikhs.

(Subhash Kirpekar, Journalist)
“On the way back to the hotel (afternoon of June 6th) I witnessed a scene at the Kotwali which is blood curdling. This is where some soldiers were kicking some of the 11 suspected terrorists as they knelt on their bare knees and crawled on the hot road surface.”

(Giani Chet Singh)
“The people were taken out of their houses. Men’s hands were tied with their turbans. Women’s necks were sought to be asphyxiated with their plaits. Then they were shot in the chests. No quarter was shown to women, aged or children; in the eyes of the troops every Sikh was a terrorist. Those who survived died of thirst. Their houses were ransacked, and then put on fire. The area surrounding Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple) was full of debris. What happened is beyond description of sight, hearing or words.”

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 Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his closest followers in the basement of the Akal Takht.

(Apar Singh Bajwa, SP of Punjab Police)
“The Army officers in-charge ordered me to go home and I remained there until the morning of June 6 when I was summoned early in the morning. When I reached the kotwali [police station] near the temple, I saw the dead bodies of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, Gen. Shabeg Singh, Thiara Singh and Amrik Singh lying there…I was asked to identify the bodies because I was familiar with all the dead men having often interacted with them as part of my duties as a police officer. The Army then requested me to arrange the cremations. We performed these, according to Sikh rites, at the nearby Gurudwara Shaheedan…A large majority of those who died inside the Golden Temple during Operation Bluestar were common devotees who had come to the shrine on June 3 on the occasion of the fifth Guru’s Martyrdom Day…Apart from Bhindranwale’s armed followers, I counted a little over 800 dead bodies inside the temple complex. My men and I were also tasked with clearing and cremating these bodies. Army and municipal officials helped transport them to the local cremation ground. While many innocents were killed in the crossfire between the Army and the militants, it is also true that the soldiers deliberately gunned down several devotees. You see they actually believed that anyone inside the temple was the ‘enemy.’ The soldiers had no notion of how they should tackle an unprecedented situation like the one that had developed inside the Golden Temple.”

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.

How many died?
Indian Government white paper category “civilian/terrorist”: 493
AP, Reuter and New York Times (June 11, 1984) 1,000
Author Mark Tully’s (Amritsar, Mrs. Ghandi’s last battle) 2,093
Amritsar crematorium worker 3,300
Author Chand Joshi (Bhindranwale: Myth and Reality) 5,000
Eyewitnesses 8,000
How many killed were “combatants”
Government White Paper 200, 35 bodies in Akal Takht 200
A.I.S.S.F. Member – 100 fighters June 5th 100
S.S. Bhagowalia, V.P. Association for Democratic Rights 140-150
Indian Government White Paper
Own troops killed 83
Own troops wounded 249
Civilians/terrorists killed 493
Terrorists and other injured 86
Civilians/terrorists apprehended 1,592

Total number of troops taking part in the attack is estimated at around 1,000 (Mark Tulley),

Child Prisoners

22 children between the ages of 2 and 16 years old were detained among the 1,592 terrorists apprehended by the army according to the government White Paper and on the  “most dangerous terrorists list”. They languished in jail suffering torture for over a year until social worker Kamala Devi petitioned the Supreme Court for their release from Ludihana jail.

Prisoner Mehrban Singh, Age 12
“We were repeatedly asked if we were Bhindranwale’s men. They hit us at Ludhiana jail, jabbing fingers into our necks, wanting us to confess that we had been filling magazines with bullets for Bhindranwale’s men.”

Prisoner Shamsher Singh, Age 11
“We were given very dirty food in the army camp. The food was better in the jail. We were regularly beaten in the jail. We were told we were Bhindranwale’s people and they wanted to know about Bhindranwale’s friends. They asked us where Bhindranwale kept his arms.”

Continuing Violence

Parallel to Operation Blue Star, another military operation called Operation Woodrose took place. Across Punjab the Indian Army attacked 42 to 74 Gurdwaras resulting in high casualties at Moga, Mukatsar, Faridkot, Patiala, Ropar and Chowk Mehta. The exact number of Sikhs killed are not know but 257 people were shot and killed during the storming of just a single Gurdwara in the operation, Gurdwara Dukhniwaran Sahib in Patiala.

On October 31, 1984 Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was shot and killed by two bodyguards, Beant Singh and Satwant Singh as revenge for Operation Blue Star. Over the next four days, as many as 3100 Sikhs were killed in retaliatory attacks, mainly in Delhi by Hindu mobs said to be organized and coordinated by Indian government officials. As many as 50,000 Sikhs were left homeless as their houses were burned to the ground.

In the 10 years following 1984 over 70,000 people were detained under emergency terrorism legislation (TADA), yet only 1 percent of them were eventually convicted of a crime.

Case of Sukhwinder Singh, 23 years old
Report for the Committee on Disappearances in Punjab
On 13 December 1991, Sukhwinder Singh accompanied by Lakhwinder Singh went to Munda Pind village on a tractor trolly to do some shopping. While returning, they were apprehended by the police of Munda Pind police post and handed over to Goindwal Sahib police. SHO Tegh Bahadur of Goindwal Sahib Police station and head constable Rachhpal Singh personally supervised Sukhwinder’s interrogation under torture during the course of his illegal detention for five days. The family members regularly visited him in the police station and served him food. Gian Singh met his son at Goindwal police station for the last time on 16 December 1991. Gian Singh, along with several other village elders had been talking to SHO Tegh Bahadur Singh to get Sukhwinder released from his custody. The SHO demanded a bribe of Rs 200,000 for Sukhwinder’s release. Gian Singh, a small farmer, was unable to raise such a large amount and beseeched the SHO to release his son for Rs. 50,000 but the SHO turned down the offer. Gian Singh was still struggling to raise the amount, demanded by the SHO for his son’s release when on 19 December 1991, several Punjabi newspapers reported the killing of Sukhwinder Singh and another unidentified militant in a supposed armed encounter with the police force. The cremation was carried out without the family’s knowledge.


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. 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 Operation Blue Star?

12 Answers

Balaji Viswanathan

Balaji Viswanathan, Indian by Birth. Indian by Thought.

107.2k ViewsBalaji has 770+ answers in India.
Operation Bluestar was an Indian Army operation to flush outrebels/terrorists/freedom fighters from the Sikhism’s holiest shrine in Amritsar. The June 1984 operation is among the most controversial events in modern Indian history. Here is the site of all the action.

Genesis of the problem

1. Khalistan movement
Like in many states in India, there were a group of extremists in Punjab who demanded a separate nation of Khalistan for the Sikhs. Given the lack of support among the majority, the idea was dormant until the late 1970s. During the 1950s and 60s, the government at the center completely reorganized India on linguistic lines to help release some pressure and curtail demands of Independence.

In 1966 a separate state for the Sikhs was formed (although close to a half of the population are non-Sikhs). Since then, the Congress party has been losing ground to the Sikh nationalist party of Akali Dal.

2. India’s Emergency (1975-77)
In 1975, India’s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared a national emergency, severely curtailing democracy. In 1977 there was a massive wave against Indira Gandhi and her Congress party. She was overthrown from most of India. In Punjab, her staunch enemies – Akali Dal formed an alliance with the rebel Janata Dal to be a part of the ruling coalition in Delhi.

Congress was furious and plotted a way to get back. In Punjab, Sanjay Gandhi (Indira’s son) and Zail Singh (later Indian President) went shopping for a Sikh religious leader who would undermine the religious authority of the Akali Dal.  They found a disturbed and irrelevant religious leader, who would prove to be a curse on India.

3. Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale
Bhindranwale was a Sikh religious leader who advocated more orthodox rules. He was discovered by Sanjay Gandhi and Zail Singh and was brought to the center of the attention. In 1977 he was elected to the leadership of a prestigious Sikh religious school, with the blessing of the Congress.
How Congress invented a ‘sant’

4. Trouble with Nirankaris and Hindus
In the late 1970s, a series of clashes erupted among Sikhs, Nirankaris (a reformist sect of Sikhs) and Hindus. In 1978, a group of Sikh youth were killed. Allegedly, justice was not meted out to them and the violators were transferred to the courts in neighboring Hindu state of Haryana (where caste rules the most).

The injustice rallied the Sikhs behind Bhindranwale. Call for retribution and revenge spread. The head of Nirankaris and Punjab’s police DIG were both murdered. Bhindranwale started proving to be a Frankenstein.

5. Accumulation of arms
In the period from 1978 to 1983, Bhindranwale created a strong armed militia within the compounds of the Golden temple. Being a sacred religious site, Indian army and police could not interfere much. Machine guns, rocket launchers and deadly weapons were accumulated under the militant leader.

Also, Bhindranwale himself had direct communication channels with Indira Gandhi, leading the police and army to be very afraid of dealing with him.

Even when the Indian soldiers were killed, the Indian army was very careful to pick up the bodies.  TIME reports: India: City of Death

These days it more closely resembles a city of death. Inside the temple compound, fierce Sikh warriors wield submachine guns, guarding against encroachment by government security forces. Outside, the security men keep a nervous vigil, all too aware that the bodies of murdered comrades often turn up in the warren

Operation Bluestar

By 1984, the proverbial shit had hit the fan. Things went out of control in Punjab as Bhindranwale locked himself up in the sacred site while the Akalis went on a rampage outside. Riots and strikes had brought one of the richest Indian states down on its knees.

Our friendly neighbor, Pakistan, started getting more involved and fomenting more trouble. The rebels even put out their own currency. There was a scary prospect of Punjab getting ripped from India.

Indira Gandhi is known for her often bold and reckless actions. She will make her final major decision. Bhindranwale and his followers would be smoked out of the temple – dead or alive.

The date of the action was chosen as June 3, 1984. Unfortunately, it happened to be a holy day for the Sikhs (matyrdom day of one of their 10 gurus). The day brought thousands of innocent pilgrims to the site. The army believed that the pilgrims would be used as human shields by the terrorists.

The militants were made of ex-army men and thus were well trained. They were led by the disgraced ex-Major General Shabeg Singh. Thus, the opponents were no ordinary men.

Army started to ask for a surrender through a public addressal system. The militants would not give up. Without a response from the militants, the army entered the holy shrine with tanks and guns. In the next 24 hours, a brutal gun fight would ensue.

Bhindranwale’s followers were armed to the teeth and were on a suicide mission. This increased the casualties and in all close to a 1000 persons died – more than 136 were Indian army men. The leader, the disgraced Major general and the whole team were killed. A complete media blackout encircled the state of Punjab with curfews imposed.


The Bluestar is controversial for its human rights violations. According the Brahma Chellaney – the only reporter for a foreign magazine in Amritsar that time, there were dozens of Sikh militants who were tied behind their back before being shot. In the years following the operation, many more thousands would perish in cities and rural heartland.

During the operation, a number of Sikh literature were destroyed and the temple itself bore the brunt of armed attacks. Innocent boys were allegedly rounded up all over the state with the ostensible reason of attacking terrorism.

As a revenge, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was assassinated 4 months later. Later the Indian government would repair the temple to its pre-1984 state. One of the Generals who was in Bluestar – General Arun Shridhar Vaidya was assassinated in 1986, further hardening India’s stance towards Khalistan supporters.


Bluestar was an Indian army operation against a group of rebels holed out in Sikhism’s holiest place – the Golden temple. The rebels were led by the controversial, separatist leader – Bhindranwale. The operation led to the death of 100s of Indian soldiers, terrorists and innocent pilgrims. It remains controversial, as many believe that the use of violence was excessive and alternative peace approaches were not properly explored.

Harpreet Singh

Harpreet Singh, Incurable Optimist , eCommerce enthusiast , reader and writer

For reasons behind Operation Bluestar please read : Harpreet Singh’s answer to What was the reason behind operation blue star?
Here focus will be what happened in Operation Bluestar :
a) 1st June 1984

In 1982 Sant Bhindranwale launched the “Dharam Yudh Morcha”. These were peaceful protests to support the implementation of The Anandpur Sahib Resolution. During these “Morchay” thousands of Sikhs courted arrest.
A respected journalist wrote, “When the agitation began nearly two years ago, it was led by reasonable men seeking a reasonable settlement of reasonable demands, and at least three times there were prospects of agreement at a negotiating table but each time Prime Minister Indira Gandhi sabotaged the ‘agreement’.”

After nearly two years of peaceful agitations, approximately 200 Sikhs were killed by the security forces and over a hundred thousands Sikhs had courted arrest. However, all negotiations with the Government had failed, the Akali Dal (Sikh Political Party in Punjab), called for the next stage of civil disobedience which was to withhold the grain distributed from Punjab to the rest of India. This was to be done on the 3rd of June 1984, in a means of pressuring the Government . Knowing that this would force settling with the Sikhs, the Indian Government instead of negotiating, opted

for a military option (Operation Blue Star) which had been prepared for over a year earlier to crush and silence the Sikh agitation.

Tens of thousands of army troops were deployed and on the 1st June Sri Harmandir Sahib (The Golden Temple) was surrounded. The Border Security Force and the Central Reserve Police Force, under orders of the Army started firing upon the Complex, in which at least 8 People died. The Battle of Amritsar had begun, #10DaysofTerror had started. #neverforget84

b) 2nd June 1984

Indira Gandhi makes an address for peace to the nation, in the full knowledge that on her orders tens of thousands of army troops are planning to launch a full scale war against a mass of unarmed civilian targets inside and around the Complex.
As she makes the address, those Sikhs murdered on the 1st June (Bhai Mengha Singh pictured) by soldiers on her command, are cremated.

The telephone connections of the Golden Temple Complex are disconnected. The few armed Sikhs we see make up only a fraction of the population of Punjab. The Government also cuts off the entire Punjab State to the outside world, ensuring there are minimal witnesses to the carnage which is about to be unleashed upon it population.

c) 3rd June 1984

June 3, the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev Ji, and according to Gen Brar “as a result, during the entire day there was a steady flow of devotees to the Temple.”
The traditional observances on this day conclude after 10 p.m. when the Guru Granth Sahib ji is ceremonially carried away (Sukhasan), and devout Sikhs typically attend this service. But at 9 p.m. an all-Punjab 36-hour curfew was suddenly re-imposed. Thousands of people were stuck inside the Temple. The Army operation commenced without warning or call for surrender:

“No one inside the Golden Temple had yet realised the sinister plan of the authorities. Punjab had been sealed. Amritsar had been sealed. The Golden Temple 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.” Citizens for Democracy; Report to the Nation: Oppression in Punjab (Bombay, 1985)

(This report was made by an investigation team lead by Justice V. M. Tarkunde who was a prominent Indian lawyer, civil rights activist, and a distinguished judge. A day after publication of the report it was banned and confiscated, the authors were arrested and charged with “sedition” (incitement of rebellion against a government);
Page on pucl.org).

In his memoirs (“Memoirs of Giani Zail Singh”, Har-Anand Publications, New Delhi, 1996) the President of India confirms that no warnings were given;

“I pointed out to her [Mrs Indira Gandhi] that military action was taken on a day when the Temple complex was full of pilgrims – men, women and children – assembled to observe the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev Ji, most of whom perished in the cross firing… I told her that if notice had been given to these pilgrims over radio and television and loudspeakers, a majority of them would have come out… I had asked the government whether they had issued a warning on the loudspeakers to the people inside the complex to come out, to which they replied in the affirmative. Later, I came to know that no such warning had been issued and the operation had been suddenly launched.”

Subash Kirpekar one of the journalists, who met Bhindranwale on June 3 after the army had surrounded the Temple complex, asked him if he feared death. Bhindranwale replied, “One who fears death is not a Sikh.”

He further asked ‘is it your contention that Sikhs cannot live in India?’ The Sant replied, ‘Yes, they can neither live in nor with India. If treated as equals it may be possible. But frankly speaking I don’t think that is possible.

Kirapekar, Subash; ‘Operation Blue Star; An Eyewitness Account’ in; Punjab Story (New Delhi. 1984)

This shows that even up to the 3rd June Sant Bhindranwale only wanted for Sikhs to be treated as equal citizens, in stark contrast with the Indian Government’s allegations that he was a separatist leader.

d)4th June 1984

June 4 : At 3.30am pilgrims were reciting the divine prayers of Sri Sukhmani Sahib, at approximately 4.00am, during the prayers, the Army suddenly began bombing the Sri Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple) Complex using heavy artillery.

“The 4th of June, 1984, was wrongly chosen by the Army for an attack on the Golden Temple because, the 3rd of June being gurpurab (a religious festival), a large number of pilgrims, nearly 10,000 in number, had come to stay in the Golden Temple.
Many of them appear to have been killed in the Army action.”

Eyewitness Accounts:

Devinder Singh Duggal – In charge of the Sikh Reference Library located inside the Golden Temple complex. Duggal is an acknowledged authority on Sikh history. Duggal’s recollections are vivid, almost photographic:

“At abut 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 of Akal Takht Sahib with such a thunder that for a few moments I thought that the whole complex had collapsed… Thereafter, every second the ferocity of firing increased…”

Apart from heavy firing from Light and Medium Machine Guns (high caliber guns), the army troops also threw mortar shells and poisonous gas canisters inside the Akal Takhat and other buildings in the 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 circle of light around the targets. Immediately after these circles, the cannon ball would land causing havoc. We saw a large number of boys blown to pieces.”

Source; Citizens for Democracy; Report to the Nation: Oppression in Punjab (Bombay, 1985)
(This report was made by an investigation team lead by Justice V. M. Tarkunde who was a prominent Indian lawyer, civil rights activist, and a distinguished judge. A day after publication of the report it was banned and confiscated, the authors were arrested and charged with “sedition” (incitement of rebellion against a government); http://www.pucl.org/admin/know_p…

e)5th June 1984

In contradiction of the Government White Paper issued on July 10th 1984 which claims that “the troops exercised great restrain and refrained from directing any fire at Harmandir Sahib” (paragraph 10), Citizens for Democracy records the evidence of Harcharan Singh Ragi, who witnessed his guardian and mentor – the old, completely blind, Head Ragi of Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple), Amrik Singh being shot by an army bullet and dying inside the Harmandir Sahib at about 6.30 a.m.

One young college girl, who was one of the thousands of pilgrims who were trapped, gives her account of the Army entering the Complex in the following words: “They continued the firing till the evening of June 5th and then it was about 8.30 p.m. It was completely dark when they entered [Army into the Temple Complex] 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. The upper portion of the Akal Takhat had been fired at by the Army… Pieces of the Guru Granth Sahib were flying in the air… The place seemed to have been transformed into a haunted house…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 in the Parikarma. This was the worst kind of treachery.”

Giani Puran Singh, a priest at the Harmandir Sahib and also an eye-witness remembers: “At 10.00 p.m. the tanks started entering the complex and the barrage of shooting became more intense as heavy artillery began to be used. At this stage an armoured carrier entered and stood beside the Sarovar. The lights on this carrier, when switched on, bathed the whole complex in bright light. We were viewing all this perched in the main dome of Harmandar 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 Parikarma and started firing. From both sides the tanks started closing in; from the clock tower to the Brahm Buta the tanks fired upon and 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 rented the air.”

In Devinder Singh 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. All through the night we heard the heart rending cries of the dying persons.”

Source; Citizens for Democracy; Report to the Nation: Oppression in Punjab (Bombay, 1985) (This report was made by an investigation team lead by Justice V. M. Tarkunde who was a prominent Indian lawyer, civil rights activist, and a distinguished judge. A day after publication of the report it was banned and confiscated, the authors were arrested and charged with “sedition” (incitement of rebellion against a government); Page on pucl.org.

Eyewitness Subhash Kirpekar writes that in total there were approximately “a dozen tanks and a dozen APCs in all” (Armoured Personal Carriers); “Operation Bluestar, an Eyewitness Account” (published in The Punjab Story). Giani Puran Singh recounts how “a vigorous battle ensued between the Army and the 40-50 youth who had been holding the forces fought bravely through the night, until they either they were killed or their ammunition was exhausted”.

f)6th June 1984

Continuing on from the night of the 5th June, moving into the early hours of the 6th June, the battle increased in ferocity. According to General K.S. Brar, on June 6, around 4-30 a.m., thirty soldiers managed to get into the Akal Takhat, the ‘Immortal Throne’ which represents the highest seat of Sikh spiritual and political sovereignty. The fighting in the early hours of the morning of the 6th was ferocious, and eyewitnesses including soldiers and General K.S. Brar, testify that although desperately outnumbered the Sikh Fighters fought bravely and “to the last man.”

The army ordered their tanks to fire upon the Akaal Takhat and due to the repeated explosions, the Akaal Takhat was reduced to rubble and the Sikh fighters inside died defending it.

“Photographs of the shattered shrine indicate quite clearly that the Vijayantas 105 mm main armaments pumped high-explosive squash-head shells into the Akal Takht. Those shells were designed for use against hard targets like armour and fortifications. When the shells hit their targets, their heads spread or squash on to 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. Lieutenant-General Jagjit Singh Aurora, who studied the front of the Akal Takht before it was repaired, reckoned that as many as eighty of these lethal shells, could have been fired into the shrine.

The effect of this barrage on the Akal Takht was devastating. The whole of the front of the sacred shrine was destroyed, leaving hardly a pillar standing. Fires broke out in many of the different rooms blackening the marble walls and wrecking the delicate decorations dating from Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s time. They included marble inlay, plaster and mirror work, and filigree partitions. The gold-plated dome of the Akal Takht was also badly damaged by artillery fire.”
Excerpted from “Amritsar – Mrs. Gandhi’s Last Battle”, (Ninth Ed. 1991).

Brahma Chellaney reported: “At about 9 p.m. on 6th June, entire city of 700,000 was plunged into darkness by a power outage. Half an hour later, Amritsar was shaken by powerful shelling, mortar explosion and machine-gun fire. The big battle had begun. Half the city was up on rooftops watching the battle. Tracer bullets and flares lit up the sky. The explosions at the Golden Temple rattled doors and windows miles away. While the battle was raging, the state-run radio claimed that the city was ‘calm’. Between 10.30 p.m. and midnight, we heard slogans from city outskirts of villagers trying to march to the Golden Temple from three different directions. The slogans-‘Long live the Sikh religion’ and ‘Bhindranwale is our leader’-were heard on each occasion and were followed by rapid army machine gun fire and screams.”
Samiuddin, Abida (ed.); The Punjab Crisis: Challenge and Response (Delhi, 1985), page 62.

The Sikh Fighters fought desperately; one of the officers said, “Boy what a fight they gave us. If I had three Divisions like that I would fuck the hell out of Zia (the President of Pakistan) any day.” Another, “I have seen a lot of action, but I can tell you I have never seen anything like this. [They were] pretty committed. They should have realised that they could not win against the army. If one weapon failed we brought another. When that failed we brought another”. A third put it more succinctly. “The bloody fellows would not let us in'”
Excerpted from “Amritsar – Mrs. Gandhi’s Last Battle”, (Ninth Ed. 1991).

The testimony of one of the pilgrims, explains why the fighters fought so desperately;

“Bhai Amrik Singh (leading Sikh fighter) sent her a message urging her to leave the Temple Complex at once with her group in order to escape being dishonoured [raped] or being shot dead as ‘terrorists’ by the Army personnel, and also to survive to tell the true story of what happened inside the Golden Temple to the world outside.”

She recalls the scenes that she saw when she stepped out of the room, where she and others were trying to survive the firing and bombing; “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 mound of dead bodies. It seemed that all the persons who were staying in the Parikrama, not one of them had survived.”
Source; Citizens for Democracy; Report to the Nation: Oppression in Punjab (Bombay, 1985).

Unfortunately, the fears of the fighters came true, and when the resistance from the defenders had been overcome, the army killed with vengeance hundreds of pilgrims;

“Grenades and poisonous gas shells were thrown at the men, women and children, who had locked themselves in the rooms, bathrooms and toilets of Guru Nanak Niwas, Guru Ram Das serai and Taja Singh Samundri Hall. Those who tried to come out were pierced with bayonets and shot dead. Some soldiers caught hold of small babies and children by their feet, lifted them up in the air and then smashed them against the walls thus breaking their skulls.”
Harminder Kaur; Blue Star Over Amritsar (Delhi, 1990).

“The civilians who died, about 1500 of them, were piled in trolleys and carried away. A lot of them were thrown into the rivers. The battle was a tragic one. I couldn’t eat anything. Food made me sick. I used to just drink lots of rum and go to sleep.”
The account of a Naik (Corporal) of Kumaon Regiment who participated in Blue Star as quoted in Probe India, August, 1984.

“The army stormed Teja Singh Samundri hall and the rooms in the Parkarma and behaved liked savages, they raped women, looted, killed children, burnt people alive, set the rooms on fire and tied the hands of devotees behind their backs and shot them.”
Eyewitness account of Bibi Pritam Kaur, whose husband and 18 month baby was shot dead. Video interview (available online), interview transcript, reprinted in Punjab Times.

“It was a virtual massacre. A large number of women, children and pilgrims were gunned down.”
As reported by The Guardian on 13th June 1984.

g)7th June 1984

Pilgrims Executed
By the morning of June 7, except for a very few surviving snipers, the men who had held the Army at bay for three days, were all dead. The majority of the complex was under army control. The aftermath of the battle was horrific and ghastly, an eyewitness details how the army had treated the pilgrims who had survived the bombardment:
“[The army] took off their turbans with which they tied their hands behind their backs. Then the Army men beat these Sikh boys with the butts of their rifles until they fell on the ground and were shot dead right in front of me.”
Teenage girl’s eyewitness account as quoted in Oppression in Punjab: Citizens For Democracy Report, 1985. Commissioned by Justice Y.M. Tarkunde.

Sikh Reference Library Torched:

The Sikh Fighters had fought to protect their most valued shrine from harm, and the pilgrims from dishonour and death. Sadly after the resistance was broken, the army had free reign, apart from the rape and murder of pilgrims the most distressing and inexcusable act was the torching of the Sikh Reference Library.

“Any army which wants to destroy a nation destroys its culture. That is why the Indian army burnt the [Sikh Reference] library.”
Amritsar: Mrs. Gandhi’s Last Battle, Tully, Mark and Jacob, (New Delhi, 1985).

“The Government wanted to destroy Sikh history. Otherwise, how do you explain the fire in the Sikh Reference Library? The archives were set on fire two days after the army action. It was a historical collection of ancient books, Khardas [manuscripts], handwritten historical birs [Guru Granth Sahibs], some of them were even written by the Gurus, Janam Sakhis (biographical sketches of Gurus), Hukumnamas [commandments of Akal Takhat] which were of the greatest importance as the Sikhs regularly referred to them for their research.”

Giani Kirpal Singh, Jathedar Akat Takhat (at the time of Operation Bluestar and eyewitness) interview published in Surya, August, 1984.
Soldiers Celebrate by Drinking and Smoking in the Sikh’s Holiest Shrine:
“Although the Sri Harmandir Sahib was riddled with bullets, the Akaal Takhat destroyed with cannon fire, and thousands of pilgrims massacred, the army were celebrating, people were seen carrying buckets of beer to the main gates of the temple where they jubilantly served the soldiers.

The soldiers freely drank and smoked inside the complex. They certainly had plenty to drink, a notification of the Government of Punjab’s Department of Excise and Taxation allowed for the provision of 700,000 quart bottles of rum, 30,000 quart bottles of whiskey, 60,000 quart bottles of brandy and 160,000 bottles of beer all for ‘consumption by the Armed Forces Personnel deployed in Operation Blue Star’;”

Amritsar – Mrs. Gandhi’s Last Battle”, p203 (Ninth Ed. 1991).

h)8th June 1984

Fighting For Faith and Nation:

Among the tragic outcome of the Blue Star attack, was the reaction and revolt of Sikh troops. Although there was a media blackout in Punjab, rumours of the assault on the Darbar Sahib managed to leak out and over 5000[1] Sikh soldiers spontaneously deserted their regiments in a bid to get to Amritsar. These soldiers are affectionately called Dharmi Faujis, which loosely translated means Soldiers of Faith.

Every Sikh soldier swears an oath that he would not let any harm come to Sri Guru Granth Sahib first, before swearing an oath that he would not let any harm come to India. Had there not been a media blackout and false government propaganda, the scale of rebellion would have been even larger.
The Government initially did not publicly admit the revolt, and even later referred to the troops as having deserted rather mutinying (abandoning ones post as opposed to a mutiny or rebellion).

It is interesting to note that prior to the attack the Sikh Regimental Centre was purposefully shifted outside of Punjab to Uttar Pradesh (by comparison, the Bihar Regimental Centre is located in Bihar and the Rajputana Rifles are based near home at Delhi). This clearly shows the intentions of the Government and their view of Sikhs. Military analysts have commented that although the Sikhs that defended the Golden Temple complex kept the army at bay for over a week, had the Sikh Regiment been stationed in Punjab, the outcome of the battle could have been very different.

The Indian Government was well prepared and the Army had already been deployed to check the advances of the rebel Sikh troops who were travelling thousands of miles from 9 different States[2] towards their ancestral homeland. Although desperately outnumbered, the Sikh soldiers faced the Indian Army and fought gun battles in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat in which hundreds of Sikhs were killed by the military.

Those that survived or were captured, were dishonourably discharged from the army, stripped of all their privileges and pensions, and imprisoned for between 5-10 years.[3]

After leaving prison many had to work as manual labourers to support their families, whereas if they had still been in the army they would have enjoyed high ranking positions and state pensions. Nonetheless, they are proud men and do not regret their decisions.

The courage and dedication shown by the rebel Sikh troops is awe inspiring, facing impossible odds, they did not hesitate to stake everything in an attempt to protect their faith and nation. It is on record that in stark contrast to their Government, who was indiscriminately massacring Sikhs, the Sikh soldiers engaged only with the army, and no civilians were reported to have been harmed.

1. Associated Press, as reported in The Palm Beach Post – Jun 18, 1984; 5000 troops deserted in over 9 states.

2. The Ottawa Citizen (Jun 12, 1984) reported that even in the North Eastern State of Assam 345 Sikhs were arrested for marching towards Amritsar to “liberate their holiest shrine”.

3. New York Times news service as reported in Gainesville Sun – Jun 12, 1984

i)9th June 1984

Jodhpur Detainees

After the Sikh resistance had been overcome, only a few snipers remained. Following the execution of pilgrims, immediately after the main battle, those that survived were rounded up, detained by the Army and charged as terrorists:
“379 of the alleged ‘most dangerous terrorists’ 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 ‘terrorists’ 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 devotees or pilgrims visiting the Golden Temple for the Guru Purab on June 3, 1984 or farmers gone to the Temple to deliver village donations of grain to the S.G.P.C. or students gone to pay obeisance at their holiest religious shrine, the Harmandir Sahib.”
Source; Citizens for Democracy; Report to the Nation: Oppression in Punjab (Bombay, 1985).
These detainees were detained for up to 5 years, before in the face of worldwide condemnation and protest they were finally released.

j)10th June 1984

On the 10th June 1984 after 10 days of terror, the guns finally fell silent. The last Sikh fighters who had been holding out from the 1st June, were killed. 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 too close. The authorities wanted these people to surrender but they wanted a mutually responsible person to mediate. I was then asked to mediate but first of all I asked the army officers 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 were there in the basement. 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, the whole night and also the next day when Giani Zail Singh came to visit the ruins of Akaal 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 have 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. Two cannons were reemployed 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 used 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.”

Thus, on the 10th June the battle of Amritsar was officially concluded as the guns finally fell silent. The military operation was unprecedented in Indian history, as the might of the Indian Army was unleashed, complete with full fire power and heavy artillery on its own people.

Government Propaganda

Following the battle, the government was embarrassed, General K.S Brar on the 2ndJune 1984 had stated that “we shall see to it that they are on their knees in just two hours”; The Sikh Unrest and The Indian State, R.N. Kumar.

Yet it took 10 days for the army to completely defeat the Sikh fighters. Other than pride, this was damaging for the Indian Government as the operation was supposed to happen under the cover of darkness, or rather a complete media blackout. This would have ensured that no one would have known what happened between the inner walls of the complex.

However, as the fighting lasted over a week, word began to spread, rumours spread throughout villages in Punjab and army bases across India, which resulted in a huge outpouring of grief and anger from Sikhs across the world.
Soon after the massacre the government disinformation campaign went into overdrive to create legitimacy for the action. The goal of this disinformation Campaign, according to Subramaniam Swami (Indian politician, academician and an economist) was to ‘make out that the Golden Temple was the haven of criminals, a store of armoury and a citadel of the nation’s dismemberment conspiracy; Creating a Martyr – Imprint (1984), Subramaniam Swami, p 7.

One of these myths that was propagated by the State media, was that the fighters were highly trained and possessed sophisticated weaponry, courtesy of Pakistan. In regards to this the Daily Telegraph, London (June 15, 1984) wrote, “The Government is now energetically insisting that the Sikh insurrection in the Panjab was a deep-seated conspiracy of a certain foreign power or when pressed, claims that some of the terrorists were trained in Pakistan. This is the first time that such a claim has been made, and it smacks of Mrs Gandhi’s playing the familiar old Pakistan card for all it is worth. After all, there is an election looming on the horizon and a touch of war fever may not do any harm. But in the long run this sort of propaganda will not solve the Panjab’s underlying problems.”

In regards to the weapons that the Sikh fighters actually had a retired brigadier, then a lieutenant colonel, recalls: “My unit was sent to the Darbar Sahib complex after the Operation was over to assist in post-operation duties. I reached Amritsar on June 10th. On the basis of my personal knowledge, I can say that the government White Paper’s list of arms recovered does not accurately reflect the arms in the possession of the militants. I would put the number of actual combatants on the other side at around 200″; Politics of genocide: Punjab, 1984-1998, Inderjit Singh Jaijee.
In an essay contributed to “The Punjab Story”, Lieutenant General J.S. Arora writes: “there is a need to correct the picture that has been painted by the media that sophisticated weapons were found inside the Temple..The impression that has been built up in the public mind of foreign governments deliberately arming the terrorists with a view to overthrowing the government is grossly overdone.”
The Government of India reacted in a cynical and dishonourable manner. They disseminated lies through State media, which forms the basis of opinion for many, regarding what happened in Operation Blue Star. One example to illustrate this scheme is two reports from different papers after the aftermath of the attack; the first is a newspaper report from London, while the other is an Indian paper;

Telegraph London (June 15, 1984) published the following report from David Graves:

“The Akal Takhat looks like it has been bombed. It looks like a building in Berlin after the War. Every building in the complex had been riddled with bullets and there was still a stench of death in the air.”

Meanwhile The Times of India (June 10, 1984) headlined on the front page a Press Trust of India report saying, “Terrorists made a desperate attempt to blow up the Akal Takhat, killed a number of men, women and children, and unsuccessfully tried to escape with huge amounts of cash, jewellery and other valuables after their leaders were killed in the action on June 5. The Akal Takhat was not damaged in the Army action.”

The Government of India also censored and persecuted any journalist or human rights organisation who tried to report the truth, and thus when Citizens for Democracy published a report detailing the “Oppression in Punjab” in 1985, it was banned and confiscated the next day, the authors were arrested and charged with “sedition” (incitement of rebellion against a government;


Brahma Challeney of the Associated Press (AP) of USA was the only foreign correspondent who managed to stay in Amritsar during the attack, and was one of the first to publish reports that Sikh pilgrims were executed after the attack. For his troubles he was arrested and also charged with sedition.

Pic source : 10 Days of Terror

Rahul Parihar

Rahul PariharRequest Bio

In June 1984, the Indian Government sent nearly a quarter million troops to Punjab, sealed the state from the rest of the world, and launched an attack, code-named ‘Operation Bluestar’, on the Darbar Sahib complex in Amritsar and over forty other gurdwaras in Punjab.
Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, head of the Damdami Taksaal, and many students and teachers belonging  to the Taksaal, was perished in the conflict. Several thousand men, women and children, mostly innocent pilgrims, also lost their lives in that attack.

Circumstances Leading to Operation Blue Star

1.Partition of India (1947)

On August 15,1947, as India celebrated its independence, Punjab witnessed only tears and bloodshed in the wake of partition. Never in the history of the world there was a bigger exchange of population attended with so much bloodshed .As a result the Sikh community suffered far greater losses than the Hindus and Muslims. Almost 2.5% of the Sikh population was brutally massacred in the communal holocaust.They rehabilitated themselves with sheer hard work and self help in India after independence.

You can read more on the partition of India and genocide in Punjab in this Journal

2.Anandpur Sahin Resolution
The Akali Dal had emerged a powerful political party in Punjabi Suba . It formed its governments in alliance with certain Non- Congress parties in 1967,1969 and1977 (then on its own in 1985 and 1997).The Akali Governments were dismissed by the Congress Government at the Centre by invoking article 356 of the Constitution.

The Akali Dal Working Committee adopted the Anandpur Sahib resolution in 1973 envisaging more powers to the States. The resolution was endorsed by the party`s general house meeting held at Amritsar in August,1977 and by the All India Akali Conference held at Ludhiana in October 1978.
3.Boycott the Nirankaris.
Sant Bhindranwale organized a protest to stop the Sant Nirankari assembly in Amritsar on April 13, 1978 after he was unsuccessful in persuading the administration to stop it. A group of one hundred persons, including 25 from Sant Bhindranwale’s group and 75 from the Akhand Kirtani Jatha, participated in this peaceful protest.
These unarmed people were fired upon by Nirankari gunmen leaving 13 dead and 78 wounded. The police, instead of stopping the massacre, hurled tear-gas at the protestors converting them into sitting ducks. A police officer who was present at the scene told this writer that the Sikh protestors had agreed to stop some distance away from the Nirankari assembly and to wait for the police to negotiate with the Nirankaris to end their public meeting.
However, while they were waiting, Nirankari gunmen moved behind a row of busses, parked on one side of the road, to come to the rear of the protestors and opened fire. The leader of the protestors was shot dead by one of the police officials as he tried to persuade the police to intervene and stop the killing. Every attempt was made to avoid punishing the guilty. Instead of apprehending those who had committed the heinous crime, the local authorities escorted them safely out of the state.
Sant Bhindranwale felt specially let down by Parkash Singh Badal, then Chief Minister of Punjab, and by Jiwan Singh Umranangal, a cabinet minister, who was present in Amritsar at the time of the April 1978 massacre. Badal felt constrained by the desires of the Hindu members of his coalition government and Jiwan Singh Umranangal never saw any merit in the protest
organized by the Sikhs. These events caused extreme bitterness in the minds of the Sikhs. They felt that the Government was deliberately siding with the murderers and treating Sikhs as second-class citizens whose life had no value.
An order was issued from Siri Akal Takhat Sahib calling upon all Sikhs toboycott the Nirankaris.
After prolonged agitation by the Sikhs, a case was registered against
the perpetrators. However, the judge, reportedly upon receiving a bribe, acquitted all of them stating that they had acted in self-defense. The state government, controlled by Indira Gandhi’s party, elected not to appeal this judgment. As Sikhs in various places in India continued to protest the Nirankari practice of openly denigrating their faith, each protest was met by firing by the police and the Nirankaris with the death toll of Sikhs gradually mounting to 28.

In April 1980, the Nirankari leader, Baba Gurbachan Singh, was assassinated.
His followers named Sant Bhindranwale as a suspect even though he was nowhere near the scene of the crime. Several of his associates and relatives were arrested. For his part, the Sant continued to openly oppose the Nirankaris and expressed satisfaction that such a wicked person had been eliminated. He declared that if he met Ranjit Singh, the suspected killer, he would weigh him in gold. However, it is said that when Bhai Ranjit Singh did show up clandestinely at Darbar Sahib in 1983, he was not honored by Sant Bhindranwale. Also, when Singh Sahib Gurdial Singh Ajnoha, Jathedar, Siri Akal Takhat Sahib, was considering a rapprochement with the SantNirankaris, Sant Bhindranwale declared that he would abide by the decision taken by the Akal Takhat.

4.Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale
Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, the then Chief of Damdami Taksal, took cudgel and tried to stall the Nirankaris’ weekly Satsang in Nirankaris Bhawan on every Sunday. He succeeded in his mission many times and subsequently emerged as a religious leader of the Sikhs.

You can read the whole life history of Bhindrawale in this book
Page on sikhmissionarysociety.org

5. Dharm Yudh Morcha
In August 1982, under the leadership of Harcharan Singh Longowal, the Akali Dal launched the Dharam Yudh Morcha (“Group for the Battle for Righteousness”) in collaboration with Bhindranwale. The goal of the organization was implementation of the Anandpur Sahib Resolution. Thousands of people joined the movement, as they felt that it represented a real solution to their demands such as a larger share of water for irrigation and return of Chandigarh to Punjab.
Indira Gandhi considered the Anandpur Resolution as a secessionist document and evidence of an attempt to secede from the Union of India. The Akali Dal officially stated that the Sikhs were Indians, and Anandpur Sahib resolution did not envisage an autonomous Sikh State of Khalistan

As soon as any agreement was arrived at between the Akalis and the Government representatives, Mrs Gandhi shifted her stand. Actually she wanted to prolong the Mocha in order to fizzle it out and to win the next Parliament elections by portraying Akalis as separatists and secessionists

6. June 3, 1984 Attacks

The armed supporters and followers of Sant Bhindranwale also shifted into the Golden Temple complex .The Sant himself shifted from Guru Nanak Niwas to the Akal Takht building and fortified it. Certain other buildings in the complex were also fortified.
The fourth and last round of the secret talks between the Akali leaders and the central Ministers was held at Delhi on May 27,1984. This also remained inconclusive.
After outmaneuvering the Akali leaders and systematically depriving Punjab, both economically and politically, the Central Government now decided to execute the final part of its programme by a direct attack on the heart of Sikhism that gives strength and sustenance to the community.

The three-fold plan of the Government led by Mrs Gandhi was aimed at,
i)  On the political front
ii)  Destroying the Akali party and its image
iii) Economic destruction of the State and erosion of their nerve centre, their sanctum sanctorum.

So at her orders, the army stormed the Golden Temple complex on June 3,1984, the martyrdom day of Guru Arjun Dev Ji, and thereby grievously injured the Sikh psyche.

Jai Parimi

Jai ParimiRequest Bio

25.7k ViewsJai has 370+ answers in India.
Please also see Balaji Viswanathan‘s answer at  What was Operation Blue Star?

Operation Blue Star was a military operation which was ordered by Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, to remove Sikh militants who were amassing weapons in the Golden Temple in Amritsar, in order to establish control over it. The operation was launched in response to deterioration of law and order in Punjab.

Where did it all start?
The roots of Operation Blue Star can be traced from the Khalistan Movement. The Khalistan Movement was a political Sikh nationalist movement that wanted to create an independent state for Sikh people, inside the current North-Western Republic of India.

Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale

Leader of Khalistan movement Mr. Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale had a heavy influence on the Sikh youth in Punjab during this time as the leader of the Taksal. He propagated original values of Sikhism and persuaded people to follow the rules and tenets of the religion. He was widely perceived to be a supporter for the creation of a proposed Sikhism-based theocratic state of Khalistan. The main motive of Operation Blue Star was to eliminate him along with other Sikh militants and regain control over the Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar.

The Operation:
Operation Blue Star had two components to it. The first one was Operation Metal, which was confined to the Golden Temple complex. Operation Metal was followed by Operation Shop. It raided the Punjab countryside, in order to capture any suspects. Operation Woodrose, the second component, was launched throughout Punjab. The operation was carried out by Indian Army, using tanks, artillery, helicopters and armored vehicles.

The entire operation lasted for ten days. It started on June 1, 1984 and ended on June 10, 1984.

Media Blackout:
During the Operation Blue Star, the media in punjab faced a blackout. Journalists were reportedly were put in a military bus and abandoned at the border of Haryana. In that period, Punjab faced a curfew and there was no transportation across the state.

Assassination of Indira Gandhi:
Assassination of Indira Gandhi was the most notable event related to the Operation Blue Star. Indira Gandhi was assassinated on October 31, 1984, four months after the Operation Blue Star. She was shot dead by two of her Sikh bodyguards, Satwant Singh and Beant Singh. 33 rounds of bullets were fired on Indira Gandhi. The primary reason for the assassination is the Operation Blue Star, which was ordered by her.

Indira Gandhi Assasins – Beant Singh (Right) & Sawant Singh (Left)

Anti-Sikh Riots:
Assassination Of Indira Gandhi led to the Anti-Sikh Riots across India. After the assassination of Indira Gandhi on October 31 1984, anti-Sikh riots took place on 1 November 1984. It continued for a few days, which killed more than 3,000 Sikhs. The worst affected areas were Sultanpuri, Mangolpuri, Trilokpuri, and other Trans-Yamuna areas of Delhi.

Bombing of Air India Flight 182:
On June 23, 1985, Air India Flight 182 which was operating on the Montreal–London–Delhi route, was blown up by a bomb at an altitude of 31,000 feet (9,400 m). The plane crashed into the Atlantic Ocean. The attack is considered to be a retaliation against India for the Operation Blue Star, which carried out by the Indian Army to flush out several Sikh militants who had captured the Golden temple. Inderjit Singh Reyat, a Canadian national,is the only person legally convicted of involvement in the bombing.

Operation Black Thunder:
India saw a repeat of Operation Blue Star a few years later. Operation Black Thunder was the name given to two operations that took place in India in the late 1980s, to flush out remaining Sikh activists from the Golden Temple. ‘Black Cat’ commandos of the National Security Guards were used in this operation. Similar to Operation Blue Star, these attacks were towards Khalistani militants who were using the Golden Temple as a base. The first Operation Black Thunder took place on April 30, 1986. The second Operation Black Thunder began on May 9, 1988. Operation Black Thunder was far more successful, compared to Operation Blue Star.

Source: 7 things you need to know about Operation Blue Star

To know more, watch

Ameya Vombathkere

Ameya Vombathkere, i am an indian first ,a student of 12th grade and like to read books on myhto…


to do petty politics and counter the Akalis. He campaigned for Indira Gandhis Congress party in three constituencies’ during the 1980 general elections. In the 1981 internal Gurdwara , he was used and fooled by the Congress again to campaign for the AISSF to divide the Akali party. Eventually he had a fall out with Mrs Gandhi, and decided to reinvent himself as a saint. Bhindranwale was a liar and a hypocrite.

Never give power to a man of God – a man who has God in his head all the time is to dumb to think about anything else. Look at the Pope – he is creating chaos in third world countries by advocating conversion ……….. Now you must know what kind of man was Bhindranwale, to understand why Operation Blue Star was carried out.


1 – Bhindranwale ‘mocked Gandhis concept of non violence.
2 – Bhindranwale threatened to kill 5,000 Hindus in an hour if the police did not give into his political demands.
3 – Bhindranwale bluntly demanded ‘that all Hindus should leave Punjab.
4 – Bhindranwale incited his followers to kill a Hindu Newspaper editor. When he was arrested in this connection an Indian Airlines plane was hijacked and his release was demanded. In a speech, Bhindranwale ‘praised his young lieutenants’ for the hijacking
5 – i have personally heard a tape where Bhindranwale has said that each Sikh should kill 36 Hindus.


Bhindranwale was a power hungry madman who was against other Sikhs as well. His pet hatred was for Nirankaris – another sect of Sikhs. Bhindranwale incited the assassination of Nirankari leader Gurbachan Singh, and said that he would weigh the killer in Gold. He openly stated that his followers would cut Nirankaris to pieces. They made an attempt on the life of the Nirankari’s propaganda secretary .

Bhindranwale had Surinder Singh Chinda, beheaded in the pursuit of violent and personal Sikh politics.


Some Sikhs who support Bhindranwale dont know that he would have ruined our lives with his fanatic religious mentality. Sikhs are the biggest drinkers in India but arfe not aware that Bhindranwale had stated – ‘If a true Sikh drinks, he should be burnt alive.’ Look at what the Taliban has done to Afghanistan.

While he professed the highest standards of Sikhism, he practiced gender discrimination.


Bhindranwale threatened ‘political and physical end’ of anyone who didn’t press for his demands. Bhindranwales followers attacked the police if they ever took action against him.


In the siege of the Gurdara these terrorists had defiled the Gurdwara by defecating in the food vessels and donation boxes of the Gurdwara. They turned the Gurdwara into a fortress by stocking bombs, ammunition and made holes in the walls to shoot bullets.


One argument goes that if the Indian Govt could successfully cordon of 100’s of kilometers the Indian Pak border, why could they not cordon off a km of periphery around the Gurdwara and starve out the terrorists. After all, within a few years Muslim terrorists laid a similar siege to a Masjid and were fed chicken Biryani with negotiations. Sikhs were brutally discriminated because they consist only a 2% minority in India.

The opposite argument is that Bhindranwale’s consistent stand had been that if the Indian Government would invade the temple, it would help the cause of Khalistan. The Indian government was worried that if this fact would be openly declared before the invasion, a large section of the Punjab police and religious Sikhs might have crossed over to support Bhindranwale. A protracted siege would then help create Khalistan into a reality, and tens of thousands of innocent Hindus in Punjab and Sikhs outside Punjab would be ethnically cleansed, if not killed.

As a Sikh i feel that the Indian Government is allways facing difficult seige attacks, and had enough experiance, recources and Goodwill amongst Sikhs to have found an easier way out. They should have handled the matter more sensitively. The Congress should not have ordered the invasion, they should have found a better way out.

We all know that last Nov , only 4 Pakistani terrorists held out in Taj for 3 days against numerous highly trained Indian commandoes. Then how could 100’s of Sikh terrorists fall like 9 pins ? Becuase the pakistani jehadis were religiously doctrinated, and had zeal behind their training. Most of the Sikhs in Operation Blue star were at best, petty thugs out to make a quick buck, at worst they were murderers. They miscalculated, they were trapped by mistake in the Golden Temple and many of them surrendered like cowards. They are an insult to the real Sikhs in the Indian Army.


Indira Gandhi was assasinated because Sikhs felt she should not have invaded the Gurdwara but negotiated a settlement. Hindu thugs led by the criminal, Rajiv Gandhi’s implicit orders went on a pogrom and killed 3000 sikhs in return

The criminal Rajiv Gandhi then said ‘ When a big tree falls, the ground will shake ‘ Nobody should ever forget this one statement. But its time to forgive and forget all else……… Rajiv Gandhi is NOT india. The people who killed Sikhs do NOT represent India. The politicians of the congress who did not care about Sikh bodies on the roads do NOT represent the Hindu community


We Sikhs dont realise that we had criminals in our community too who did enough damage in return……………… The reason for this is that Hindus don’t challenge us Sikhs on on this topic. Hindus feel that their bigger problem in the country are Muslims so they try not to rake up controversial topics with us Sikhs. Because we don’t hear their viewpoint we Sikhs tend to think that 1984 was a big one sided crime. Please, lets soul search and be more realistic.

The primary tragedy is that a man has died. How he dies, how many died in one day, who killed them are important issues, but secondary issues. We say that Hindus were killed by terrorists, BUT Sikhs were killed by Congress ( Rajiv Gandhi’s orders ) We say that Hindus were killed by bullets, BUT Sikhs were killed by burning tires around their necks. We say that 3000 plus Sikhs died in 3 days, conveniently forgetting that 3000 plus Hindus have died too, over 3 years.

What I am repeating is that the primary tragedy is death. What I am stating is that there are still, today, thousands of Hindu widows, daughters, mothers crying the same way as there are Sikh widows, mothers and daughters. Both sides were wrong


this Congress party has committed atrocities against Hindus too. BJP has killed Muslims. The politicians ( not Abdullahs though ) in the Kashmir valley have been instrumental in the ethnic cleansing of Hindu Pandits. Lower castes get raped all the time. Nowadays even the Christians are gating an occasional pasting by saffron outfits. That is politics.

But Sikhs got justice from the PUCL and PUDR, all of whom were Hindus.. Hindus went overboard screaming for justice for Sikhs. We Sikhs have got a very good deal in India, we are first class citizens, a thriving successful community. We are not minority or majority – we are mainstream. WE are India.

The average Hindu and Sikh on the road probably hated each other for a few years, that all is thankfully over, this hatred only remains in the heads of a low IQ Khalistanis and Hindu lunatics

Alvi Brar

Alvi BrarRequest Bio

Operation Bluestar was the most unfortunate incident. The Congress Party lost base in Punjab after !972 when Land reforms were pushed by Giani Zail Singh. The Akalis became more and more popular. The Congress put up Bhindrawale of Damdami Taksal to discredit them . The stooge became strong and was joined by a few naxalites. He started propogating the concept of Khalistan. T his was endorsed by some NRIs in UK and Canada. The people of Punjab lived in terror. Any sympathy they might have had towards this cause vanished when innocent people started being killed, business suffered and there were dictates even regarding number of people attending a wedding.
Operation Bluestar was the army action to flush out Bhindrawale and his men. The attack on the Golden Temple cut deeply into Sikh Psyche. The army tried to pervent damage to the Gurdwara but the Akal Takhat the place of highest temporal seat of Sikhs was destroyed. The sikh museum containing rare manuscripts was partially destroyed so sikhs have lost a part of their heritage here.Not many people supported Bhindranwale but the desecration of their most holy gurdwara hurt the Sikhs they felt that Govt. had purposely planted Bhindrawale  and then taken the action to willfully interfered in their religious matters.  The assasination of Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi’s foolish handling and genocide of Sikhs in congress led states further alienated the sikhs. They felt that they had become second class citizens. Then followed a decade of terror. punjab became a hotbed of militancy.Police atrocities were worse. So many boys wre killed as suspected terrorists that in some villages of punjab a marriage did not take place for a number of years. thankfully that phase has passed.

Rudraksh Arora

Rudraksh Arora, BACK TO LIFE

Operation Blue Star was the operation headed by the Indian Army to encounter Jarnail singh Bindrawale and his militant group within the holiest sikh place Harmindar Sahab in Amritsar, Punjab.

It was the most tragic operation in the history of the Indian Army. The operation was headed by the Lt General Shahbeg Singh.

History of the operation

By the time of 1950, a group of sikhs along with hindus such as Aroras started demanding of a separate nation. The group was known as Nirakaris headed by Baba Gurbachan Singh. By the year 1970 the demand gained rise. In 1970 the then PM Indira Gandhi announced the emergency.

The Akali Dal which was a secular party of punjab separated from UPA and allianced with Janata Dal in 1977. Congress has lost its existence in punjab. It was desperate to regain powers un punjab and crush the revolution. In order to do so, she allianced with Nirakaris giving them the consolation of power in punjab.


Sant Jarnail singh Bindrawale was born in 1948 in Moga, Punjab

In a very young age he preached people to follow Sikhism and travelled in Punjab to come in contact with them. The commonest words used by him in his speeches ” Sikh ek vakhri kaum hai” meaning Sikhs are a different National. He gained his rise as a Saint n a leader.

His popularity was discovered by Sanjay Gandhi, son of Indira Gandhi and Gyani Zail Singh, The then Home Minister of India. He was in contact with PM since then. At a phase of time he was known as the Third Son of Mrs Gandhi.

In 1978 in a protest, a group of Akandh Kirtani Janta against the actions of Nirakaris, 13 people were killed by police including 2 bindrawale supporters. An FIR was filed against Nirkari leader but he was taken outside punjab by police and the cases against him were shifted to Haryana so as to protect him. In 1980, he was killed openly by Bindrawale in Punjab as he’d returned by the time.

This murder increased the gap between Gandhis n Jarnail singh. A case was filed against 17 people n Jarnail singh surrendered on October 20, 1980 and was taken to Tihar Jail, Delhi. Due to lack of evidence he was released by govt and returned to punjab as a martyr.

From 1980- 83 he’s developed a huge force of over 600 armed militants in punjab.

In 1983, he was told by religious leaders to shift to Harmindar Sahab where he stayed in Guru Nanak Niwas.

On 23, April 1983 DIG A S ATWAL OF PUNJAB POLICE was shot dead by the Bindrawale as he left the compound of the temple.
The CM of Punjab, Mr Prakash Singh Badal didn’t speak anything on the controversial issue.

Bt the mid 1983, the PM Gandhi had decided to encounter Jarnail singh Bindrawale. To take him down, operation Sundown was planned. Mrs Gandhi orderd a watch on Bindrawale to be done by RAW.

Operation Sundown was a coward operation to kill Bindrawale. It included, 200 NSG COMMANDOS, 12 RAW SPECIALIST, 2 MI – 14 HELICOPTERS AND 4 JEEPS.

The plan was to kill Jarnail singh through an invasion. The 14 specialist were to be dropped off the choppers in the compound of Harmindar Sahab and were to immediately climb to Guru Nanak Niwas and encounter Bindrawale. Meanwhile the forces were to invade through positions and kill other militants in there. The jeeps were to be used for the 14 to exit the area. This all was to be done in April, 84 in Mid night.

For the plan to be executed, the govt built the same structure as that of Harmindar Sahab in a secluded place in Unnav in Uttar Pradesh. The commandos started their training in January,84 and worked for three months.

In the meantime Bindrawale strengthen himself by Smuggling guns, rocket launchers, LMGs, anti tank missiles and other deadly weapons. The govt knew his actions and officials adviced to execute the plan as soon as possible but PM had something else in mind. Just before the expected date she aborted the mission as she was in special talks with Bindrawale to surrender.

After two months came the time. On the 3rd june, curfew in nearby villages of Amritsar was called so that people couldn’t come to the temple.
The CM requested PM not to send the forces in the temple and were rather assured that nothing such of a kind was to be done. But Mrs Gandhi chose the sikh religious day when the thousands of people were in temple to show her domination over sikhs.

On the midnight of 5 June, 1984 at 1900 hours the firces were rushed to Golden Temple. The army wanted a covert operation to be performed in which the troops were to drop off the choppers in the Kund of Harmindar Sahab and were to swim in the temple. But the forces were to burst in the compound in the crowd. The army refused but were forced by last orders to do so. They knew the casualties but did as ordered. Thus in the invasion more than 83 of the soldiers were killed. Then the PM ordered the tanks to rlll into the compound which was a so called damn step. With that the tanks fired on the holy Land and more than 4500 people were killed including 600 millitants, 86 soldiers and civilians.

On the morning of 8 june, the operation ended with the encounter of Jarnail singh Bindrawale

Varun Upadhyay

Varun Upadhyay, “An eager young mind” as told by Sir Nash

Operation Bluestar was a military operation done by Indian army on 3–8 June 1984 under the guidance of  Indira Gandhi to take out Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale from the Golden Temple which ended up killing innocent people and destroying the beautiful Harmandir Sahib.
The operation had two components: Operation Metal, confined to the Harmandir Sahib complex, and Operation Shop, which raided the Punjabi countryside to capture any suspects.

For more in depth information watch this BBC documentary on Operation Bluestar

Pratyush Prakash

Pratyush Prakash, Seaman, love politics hate politicians

More or less i agree with answer of Balaji Vishawnathan. He gave a fairly accurate account of what happened. The whole BlueStar thing was very bloody and messy,these things are supposed to happen in country of some dictator in africa. Not in a vibrant democracy of india. But anyway, something did come out of it which was beautiful and brilliant.
Every country with a highly trained special urban counter terror group go through one moment of reckoning(of which they are ashamed of) for Germany’s GSG9 it was 1972 munich olympic massacre, for us it was operation Bluestar.
NSG went on to clear same place against similar foes twice

  1. Op. Black Thunder I – 300 hundred millitants captured, no deaths no damage to alak takht or Golden Temple itself
  2. Op. Black Thunder II – 40 militants killed, no casuality to public or indian defence personels and almost no damage to revered GOLDEN TEMPLE

Till date we have lost only four cammandos in combat. Long live NSG. Long live India.

Deepak Sachdeva

Deepak Sachdeva, am I confused?

Here is a documentary by NDTV on the 30th anniversary of Operation Bluestar.

Watch: Operation Bluestar – Past and Present in Punjab – NDTV

Banibrata Dutta

Banibrata Dutta, Product guy, tinkerer, interested in economics, politics & sustainability

Read up all about it here: Operation Blue Star

Also, there are zillion other counter-views claiming to be a truer account than what was apparently pushed out in Indian media.

It was an armed attack against extremists(well that is what books tell 🙂  ) sheltered in Golden Temple in Amritsar. Indra Gandhi was the PM when it happened. You can read more on internet or read the book “India After Gandhi” if you are into books.

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