OPERATION BLUE STAR
Operation Blue Star was an operation carried out by the Indian Army from 3 to 6 June 1984 to liberate the Harimandir Sahib complex in Amritsar (Punjab, India) from pro-Khalistan Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his supporters. The separatist forces under the leadership of Bhindranwale were getting stronger in Punjab which was getting support from Pakistan.
The Punjab problem started in the 1970s in the form of a tussle in Akali politics and Punjab-related demands of the Akalis. In 1973 and 1978, the Akali Dal passed the Anandpur Sahib resolution. The original proposal suggested that the central government of India should have authority only on defense, foreign policy, communication, and currency, while the states should have full rights on other subjects. They wanted autonomy in the northern region of India. Their demand was that Chandigarh should be the capital of Punjab only.
Punjabi-speaking areas should be included in Punjab, Supreme Court’s opinion on the river water issue, ‘Canal headworks’ and hydro-electric infrastructure should be managed by Punjab, and Army recruitment should be done on a merit basis. And in this, the said limit on the recruitment of Sikhs should be removed, and an All India Gurdwara Act should be made. The support and influence of the Akalis began to grow. Meanwhile, on April 13, 1978, there was a violent clash between Akali workers and Nirankaris in Amritsar. In this 13 Akali workers were killed. Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, the head of the organization for the promotion of the Sikh religion, took part in the fury day. Many observers see this event as the beginning of extremism in Punjab. Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, is accused of indirectly encouraging Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale to reduce the Akali Dal’s base in the Sikh community.
The Akali Dal was talking about the demands of Punjab and the Sikhs by staying in the political mainstream of India, but its attitude was considered loose. Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale took a tough stand on them and started blaming the central government. He started giving regular speeches on controversial political issues and religion and its dignity. He also started getting the support of a section.
Violent incidents started increasing in Punjab. In September 1981, Lala Jagat Narayan, editor of Hindi News – Punjab Kesari newspaper group, was assassinated. Many lives were lost in the violent incidents in Jalandhar, Tarn Taran, Amritsar, Faridkot, and Gurdaspur. Bhindranwale was accused of promoting violent activities. The police refrained from taking action against him saying that there was not enough evidence.
Gathered there in September 1981 in front of Bhindranwale’s Mahta Chowk Gurdwara when arrested
An exchange of fire broke out between the mob and the police and eleven persons died. The period of violence started in Punjab. A few days later, members of the Sikh Students’ Union hijacked an Air India plane.
Seeing Bhindranwale getting public support, the leaders of Akali Dal also started giving statements in support of him. Guru Nanak Niwas in the Golden Temple complex before leaving Bhindranwale Chowk Mahata Gurdwara in 1982 a few months later, he started expressing his views from the Akal Takht, the highest religious institution of the Sikhs. The Akali Dal had launched its ‘Canal Roko Morcha’ in July 1982 against the construction of the Sutlej-Yamuna Link Canal, under which Akali workers were continuously giving arrested. Meanwhile, Bhindranwale started a new campaign for the release of his fellow All India Sikh Students Union chief Amrik Singh from the Golden Temple complex. The Akalis merged their front with Bhindranwale’s front and Under the Dharma Yudh Front, arrests were made. Violent incidents increased further. A bomb exploded in the office of the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Patiala. The then Chief Minister of Punjab Darbara Singh was also attacked. In April 1983, AS Atwal, Deputy Inspector General of Punjab Police was shot in broad daylight in the Harimandir Sahib complex. Police morale went down. A few months later, gunmen who entered a Punjab Roadways bus killed several Hindus near Jalandhar.
The Indira Gandhi government dismissed the Congress government of Darbara Singh in Punjab and imposed President’s rule. But the situation in Punjab worsened. By March 1984, 298 people had died in violent incidents. The Indira Gandhi government had three talks with the Akali leaders. The last phase of talks broke down in February 1984 when violence against Sikhs broke out in Haryana. On 1 June also there was a gunfight between the Golden Temple complex and the Central Reserve Reserve Force deployed outside it.
Sant Jarnail Singh, the court-martialed Major General Subheg Singh, and the Sikh Students’ Federation had put up a heavy barricade around the Golden Temple complex. They had also accumulated a huge amount of modern arms and ammunition. Indira Gandhi wanted to solve this problem just before the general elections were held in 1985. Ultimately he decided to put an end to this problem even at the risk of hurting the religious sentiments of the Sikhs and ordered the army to conduct Operation Blue Star.
Indian military operations
On June 3, the Indian Army surrounded the Golden Temple complex after reaching Amritsar. Curfew was imposed in the city in the evening. On June 4, the army opened fire to get an idea of the weapons and ammunition of the armed militants present in the temple. It received such a sharp response from the extremists that on June 5, it was decided to use armored vehicles and tanks. On the night of June 5, the real clash between the army and the Sikh fighters began.
There was great bloodshed. The Famine Takht was completely destroyed. The Akal Takht was very important from the religious point of view, as it was built higher than the Mughal Takht. Bullets were also fired at the Golden Temple. For the first time in many centuries, lessons could not be held from there on June 6, 7, and 8. A historically important Sikh library burnt down.
According to the white paper of the Government of India, 83 soldiers were killed and 249 were injured. 493 extremists or civilians were killed, 86 were injured and 1592 were arrested. But these figures are considered disputed.
The sentiments of the Sikh community were greatly hurt by this action. Attacking the Golden Temple was considered by many Sikhs to be an attack on their religion. Many prominent Sikhs either resigned from their posts or returned the honors given to them by the government.
Although Operation Blue Star was largely successful, it proved to be one of Indira Gandhi’s biggest political defeats. A rift developed between the Sikhs and the Congress party, which deepened when two Sikh security personnel assassinated the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on October 31, a few months later. After this, the anti-Sikh riots that broke out increased the gap between Congress and the Sikhs.
The repercussions of the religious sentiments of the Sikhs hurt by Operation Blue Star came to the fore in the brutal assassination of Indira Gandhi on 31 October 1984. His own two Sikh security guards riddled him with bullets. Indira Gandhi died on the spot. But the information about his death was circulated around 3 pm.
Operation Blue Star: Important Date
1973- Anandpur Sahib Resolution passed. The resolution asked the Center to retain only five responsibilities, including foreign affairs, currency, defense, and communication, to give the rest to the state, and to accept Punjab as an autonomous state.
1977 – Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was elected head of the Damdami Taksal, the main branch of Sikh religious propaganda, and started the Amrit campaign.
1978 – Conflict between Akhand Kirtni Jatha, Damdami Taksal, and Nirankari Sikhs in Amritsar, 13 Sikhs killed. The Akal Takht Sahib issued a decree against the Sant Nirankari sect of the Sikhs. Organizing the 18th All India Akali Conference in Ludhiana in which the second resolution was passed taking a flexible stand on the Anandpur Sahib resolution.
1979 – Akali Dal split into two factions, the first faction is led by Harchand Singh Longwall and Parkash Singh Badal while the second faction is led by Jagdev Singh Talwandi and The then SGPC President Gurcharan Singh Tohra
1980 – The sixth fatal attack on the head of the Nirankari Panth, Gurbachan Singh, when he was on his way to his headquarters in Delhi. He was killed in this attack.
1981 – The flag of a new autonomous Khalistan is unfurled at Anandpur Sahib in Punjab. Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale surrenders in the murder case of Jagat Narayan, head of Hind News Group. He was taken into custody and sent to jail. Bhindranwale considered it right to adopt the path of violence for his purpose. In the same month, five members of Dal Khalsa including Rajinder Singh and Satnam Singh Paonta hijacked an Indian Airlines plane coming from Srinagar to Delhi and took it to Lahore. The kidnappers demanded cash money and the release of Bhindranwale from jail. Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was released from jail. In the same month, the first round of talks between the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Central Government of Delhi took place, In which Shiromani Akali Dal took a flexible stand and reduced its demands from 45 to 15. One of them was the unconditional release of Bhindranwale.
1982 – Third round of talks between the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Central Government. The Akali Dal had called this negotiation a failure. , Bhindranwale comes to room number 47 of Guru Nanak Niwas in the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar. Akali Dal announced Dharma Yudh Morcha. A 126-passenger Indian Airlines flight from Delhi to Srinagar was hijacked and tried to land in Lahore, but this was not allowed from Lahore. After this, the aircraft landed at Amritsar. The hijacker was arrested in Amritsar. In the same month, another Indian Airlines plane was hijacked while traveling from Mumbai to Delhi via Jodhpur. This plane was also not allowed to land in Lahore. After this, the hijacker landed the plane in Amritsar. Sikh hijacker Trouble Singh was killed in commando action at Amritsar airport. Akali Dal appealed for protest during the 9th Asian Games in Delhi. Many Sikhs were caught trying to enter the capital. Some were tortured. Cases of persecution of Sikhs mainly came from Haryana.
1983 – Punjab Police DIG Avtar Singh Atwal was assassinated in Amritsar just in front of the Golden Temple. , Akali Dal launched Rail Roko and Work Roko front. Due to this, normal life and rail traffic were badly affected. The Congress government of Punjab led by Darbara Singh was dissolved and President’s rule was imposed on the state. Bhindranwale had now reached the most important part of the complex, the Akal Takht Sahib, from the Guru Nanak Niwas of the Golden Temple in Amritsar.
1984 – Sumit Singh Shammi, editor and senior journalist of Punjabi’s most-read monthly magazine, ‘Preetlari’, was assassinated. Former MLA and BJP chief Harbans Lal Khanna were shot dead along with his bodyguard in Amritsar. Violence broke out at his funeral the next day. Eight people were killed and nine were injured in this. Vishwanath Tiwari, a Punjabi language professor coming from a Hindu Brahmin family, was murdered along with his wife. Professor Tiwari’s wife was Punjabi. Both the factions, Loganwal and Bhindranwale accused each other of being the reason for the downfall of the Sikh sect by distributing pamphlets. , After the assassination of Jagat Narayan, the editor of Hind Samachar Group, his son Ramesh Chandra took over the responsibility and he was also murdered in his office in Jalandhar. The Indian Army entered the Darbar Sahib i.e. Golden Temple complex in Amritsar. The army surrounded the Golden Temple from all sides. Hundreds of people died in heavy shelling and fighting. The temple premises were also damaged. In this attack, Bhindranwale and Many prominent people died including Lt Gen Shahbeg Singh. This operation was named Operation Blue Star. There are reports of the rebellion of Sikh soldiers in many parts of the country. About 500 soldiers of the Sikh Regiment had revolted after hearing the news of Operation Blue Star in the Ganganagar district of Rajasthan. In Bihar’s Ramgarh (now Jharkhand), Sikh soldiers revolted in Alwar, Jammu, Thane, and Pune. In Ramgarh, rebel soldiers killed their commander, Brigadier SC Puri.
The Indian government released a white paper on Operation Blue Star, but it faced criticism. Indira Gandhi was assassinated only four months after Operation Blue Star. She was shot dead by two Sikh bodyguards of the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, Satwant Singh, and Beant Singh. Anti-Sikh riots broke out in many parts of the country soon after the assassination of Indira Gandhi. Thousands of people lost their lives in these riots.
1985 – Air India flight number 182 crashed near Ireland. 329 people died in this accident. The then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Harchand Singh Longwall signed an agreement. After this Chandigarh got Punjab. Harchand Singh was attacked and killed while giving a speech in a Gurdwara. Akali Dal got a massive victory in the elections in Punjab. Surjit Singh Barnala became the Chief Minister of the state.
1986 – The control of the Golden Temple or Darbar Sahib was once again handed over to the Shiromani Gurdwara Management Committee