On June 2, 1984, the government of India shrouded a terrifying veil
of secrecy over the ENTIRE northern Indian state of Punjab! Foreign
news reporters were expelled from the state, and communications
with the rest of humanity severed by the government. This mortifying
sequence of events transpired in a country claiming to be "the
world's largest democracy," and set the stage for what was
For months, the Government had claimed that
a small group of "terrorists"-- whose "official"
number swelled from 40 before the attack to over 450 in the succeeding
months-- was operating from and hiding out in the complex. This
apparently transpired despite the pronounced presence of the police,
the military, and government spies in and around the open, easily-accessible
Golden Temple complex, as well as the tapping of all of its phones.
June 3rd was an important religious holiday
for the Sikhs, and thousands had gathered in the city of Amritsar
to worship in the Golden Temple. As many had come from great distances,
numerous pilgrims spent the night at the Temple complex. Knowing
this, the Indian Army began heavy artillery fire into the complex
on the night of the 3rd. This continued until it moved in during
the early hours of the 5th, thus trapping thousands of innocent
Sikh pilgrims: men, women, and children. Simultaneously, 38 other
Gurdwaras (Sikh Temples) across the state were attacked by the army.
What ensued was a deliberate, cold-blooded massacre by a state of
its own citizens.
Not only were an enormous number of innocent
pilgrims murdered, but the majority were mercilessly exterminated
AFTER the complex had been militarily secured. The Times of London
reported, "Several. . . Sikh militants killed. . . were shot
at point-blank range by troops who first tied their hands behind
their backs, a doctor and police official said. A Police Superintendent
also reported that 'at least 13 Sikhs were tied and shot by submachine-gun-toting
soldiers'. . . . The sources say that the militants' turbans had
been removed and their hands tied with it|. Each of them had been
killed with a single shot fired at their forehead." Another
police official said "a truck| load of ELDERLY Sikhs who surrendered
on the first day of the military operation were brought to the main
city police station and tortured there by the army. The soldiers
removed their turbans, pulled their hair over their eyes and tied
the long hair round their necks. Then they threw sand in their faces,"
he said. "The old men shrieked, but I helplessly watched all
this from my office window."
In addition to the slaughter and torture of
helpless pilgrims, no provision for the wounded Sikhs-- who were
Indian citizens-- was made by the army. The number of prisoners
taken was negligible, as the Indian army obviously thought it better
to eliminate the thousands of people seized, rather than risk allowing
them to reveal the true nature of the actions committed in the name
of the Indian people. No effort was made to identify them. No relatives
were informed. By failing to turn over the bodies, and cremating
them immediately, the Indian government made sure that no autopsies
could be performed, and no precise body count made. Large numbers
of women and children disappeared during the attack, and are presumed
to have been killed by the Indian Army. Despite such atrocities,
no commission was ever appointed by the government to delve into
this dark episode. It was closed to the light of truth, being a
"military matter." The official government figure of civilians
and "terrorists" killed was 493. However, it is obvious
that a government does not keep track when it slaughters its own
people. The number of dead estimated by the independent group Citizens
for Democracy was 8,000. Other human rights activists have asserted
that the number murdered by the State is at least double that figure.
We will never know how many men, women, children, and elderly died
at the hands of their own government.
After securing the premises of the Golden temple,
the soldiers then proceeded to destroy Sikh religious and historical
artefacts kept in a museum in the Golden temple premises, including
centuries old religious manuscripts and articles belonging to the
Sikh prophets. This further provides evidence that the attack was
not the simple anti-terrorist action the Indian Government feigns
it was, but rather a calculated attempt to strike out specifically
at the Sikh community.
With all news controlled by the government, conditions were ideal
for the planting of fake evidence and the erasure of unpleasant
evidence-- a situation vehemently protested by the Press Council
of India. In the prelude to the attack, numerous reports by the
state-controlled media had filtered into India, in a calculated
ploy to consolidate public opinion behind the secret plans soon
to be unveiled by the Indian government. The media's venture to
generate anti-Sikh sentiment in the nation, with an avalanche of
prevarication's prior to Operation Bluestar, worked well. This can
be gauged by the celebrations of many Hindus after the army's entry
into the Golden Temple complex.
After the siege, the misinformation from the state-controlled press
continued to proliferate. Claims were made, and later retracted
or proven lies, of finding numerous materials sacrilegious to Sikhs
within the complex (drugs and alcohol), finding jewellery and other
valuables, of the Golden Temple itself not being fired upon (it
had over 350 bullet marks), not to mention grotesque falsehoods
about the number of dead.
Taking into account evidence that has surfaced
since the event, it appears undeniable that the timing of the attack
was calculated to cause maximum damage, casualties, and suffering
to the Sikhs. Particularly as the evidence of exceeding government
duplicity has been discovered, people of conscience around the world
have viewed this not as an attempt to root out a few "terrorists,"
but as an assault upon Sikh religion itself. This latter belief
became horrifyingly concretised through Operation Woodrose, the
"mop-up" procedure which followed Bluestar. In this military
operation, which human rights activists have denounced as "Genocide
in practice," army personnel fanned out across Punjab in an
effort to crush the spirit of the Sikh community by humiliating,
torturing, and murdering them in front of their families and friends.
The political ramifications of Operation Bluestar
become readily visible when one realises that it was planned by
Prime Minister Indira Gandhi long before it occurred. It was afterwards
learned that army units had been practising on a model of the Golden
Temple complex months before the attack. The assault on the Sikhs'
centre of religious and political authority was designed to garner
votes from the Hindu majority by "disciplining" a tiny
religious minority of the voting populace, one that was then leading
a powerful, popular, non-violent protest movement against the political
indiscretions of Indira Gandhi. To erase the national embarrassment
Indira Gandhi suffered from the Sikhs' airing of their legitimate
political grievances, and in search of political gain, countless
thousands of Sikhs were murdered. And no one was held accountable.
Media Action and Resource Task Force, 1997.
Back to Top
Eye Witness Account
In the words of Giani Sahib Singh Ji
- Head Priest
Singh Sahib Giani Singh Sahib, the head Granth of Sri Darbar Sahib,
had his residence in Shaheed Bunga Street on the back side of Sri
Darbar Sahib. Indian forces had initiated their attack on Sri Darbar
Sahib at 4:45 AM on the morning of June 4. Under the battle conditions
and intense exchange of fire, Singh Sahib fulfilled his duties on
June 5 until noon. However, on June 6 he was unable to attend to his
duties. Other Giani Sahibans, including Giani Mohan Singh Ji and Giani
Puran Singh Ji, were forced to remain inside, even after the completion
of their regular duties on the evening of June 5. They simply could
not leave the premises. The following is an excerpt from an interview
by Harbir Singh Bhanwer with Singh Sahib Giani Sahib Singh.
When were you able to first return to Sri Darbar Sahib after Operation
Bluestar and what were the conditions as you saw?
SINGH SAHIB: Giani Mohan Singh Ji and Giani Puran Singh Ji,
accompanied by some soldiers, reached my house around 5:00 AM on
June 7. They informed me that General Sahib had summoned me, and
instructed me to get ready in 15 minutes to accompany them. I left
escorted by the soldiers.
The Atta Mandi, Katdha Dal Singh and back anteroom (Deodhi) of Sri
Darbar Sahib was full of soldiers. There were thousands of soldiers
everywhere. We were stopped at every place and questioned, "Who
is he? Kill him!" Soldiers escorting me responded, "He
is the head priest."
Upon reaching inside the Darbar Sahib complex,
I saw Sikhs seated all over the parikarma with their hands tied
behind their backs with their own turbans. Among them were the Gurdwara
employees. Giani Sujan Singh, Sant Bhindranwale's helper and SGPC
member, was among the detained Sikhs.
At the footsteps of the parikarma, we were met
by an arrogant Sikh Colonel. When the accompanying soldiers informed
him about me, he promptly ordered "If he is the head Granthi,
bring him inside." The parikarma had 6-7 tanks on it. Dead
bodies were everywhere. I inquired from the Sikh Colonel if I could
meet with the detained Sikhs. He replied that his orders did no
allow it. However, when I informed him that our own staff was among
the detained, he suggested that I could watch but not speak with
them. He further emphasised that if I talked with anyone, I will
Baba Deep Singh Ji Shaheed's Bunga was full
of detained Sikhs. As they saw me, they started crying. Some requested
if I could seek permission for them to drink water from the sarowar.
Whoever spoke was mercilessly beaten by soldiers with gun butts
and subjected to derogatory verbal abuse saying, "Sala asks
for water!" I informed the Sikh Colonel that Gursikhs regularly
organise"Shabeels" to distribute water, and requested
permission to distribute water among the detained Sikhs.
Indian forces could be seen in all buildings
of Sri Darbar Sahib. The reference library was burning at this moment.
The whole parikarma was in bad shape, covered with blood, ammunition
shells, and broken glass. There was no place to put your foot down.
The soldiers accompanying me suggested that I wear my shoes. However,
I refused and proceeded barefoot.
At the Shabeel corner someone fired at me. Fortunately,
I escaped. Now the soldiers escorting me were yelling "He is
the head priest!", but no one was listening to anyone. I was
shot at once again near the Lachi Baer Gurdwara. This bullet missed
and hit the ground near me. Near Lachi Baer Gurdwara, Sri Akal Takhat's
courtyard was filled with dead bodies. Soldiers were everywhere.
The Darshani (Deori) anteroom, Janda Bunga, New anteroom-- soldiers
were positioned everywhere with entrenched machine guns and LMGs.
The historical Lachi Baer tree was badly brutalised.
The nearby room for Palki Sahib was badly littered with scattered
rumalas. With a deeply saddened heart and great difficulty, I reached
here. The Darshani (Deori) anteroom was full of drunken soldiers
who were smoking cigarettes. When these soldiers saw me, they started
hurling derogatory verbal abuses at me, "Who is this Sala?"
Almost all soldiers were abusive. They could not utter any words
without using derogatory terms.
From the doorsill to the bridge, the Darshani
anteroom was filled with rubbish. The bridge was heavily guarded
with armed soldiers. Sri Harimandir Sahib was also heavily guarded.
The situation inside Sri Harimandir Sahib was no better. The carpets
used for June 5 could not be replaced on June 6. Ammunition shells
and broken glass littered the insides as well.
There were 6-7 Sikh soldiers, including a Granthi
and two Colonels, when I reached inside. They informed me that General
Sahib had left after a long wait for me. They instructed me to conduct
Sri Guru Granth Sahib's Prakash and initiate kirtan and other services.
By now I had been informed by other Singh Sahibans that the sacred
copy of Sri Guru Granth Sahib had been hit by a bullet.
The sacred copy of Sri Guru Granth Sahib that was hit by a bullet,
was that in use in the main hall or on the first story?
This copy was in prakash in Sri Harimandir Sahib. At Har-Ki-Paudi
a Sikh was reading from Guru Granth Sahib, when a bullet hit a window
and broke its glass. A piece of that glass cut Pathi Sikh's hand.
It is this Sikh's blood that you find on the rumalas.
The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) had previously riddled Sri
Darbar Sahib with bullets from all corners on June 1. The next day,
June 2, was not any better either. In consultation with Tohra Sahib,
on the morning of June 4, all Akhand Paths were concluded and all
sacred copies of Sri Guru Granth Sahib were moved in for safekeeping,
after their 'sukhasan'. However, the Akhand Path at Har-Ki-Paudi
was allowed to continue and completed on the morning of June 6.
Because of the curfew imposed by the Indian forces, our employees
could not reach Sri Darbar Sahib to assume their duties. As a result
most pathis had to recite Path for 8-10 hours continuously.
When was Sri Guru Granth Sahib's Prakash conducted?
First of all we cleaned the insides of Sri Harimandir Sahib. The
Sikh soldiers helped me with this task. Sukhasan of the sacred copy
of Sri Guru Granth Sahib that was hit by a bullet was conducted
next. Then the Sri Guru Granth Sahib copy was brought from Lachi
Baer Gurdwara and the prakash was completed around 10:00 AM. There
was no Kara Prashad served. A Sikh Subedar brought some sweetmeat
prepared from sugar from somewhere, which was served instead.
Then which Shabad's kirtan was initiated?
When the two Colonels inside Sri Harimandir Sahib, Shamindar Singh
and Sharma, asked me to organise shabad kirtan, I expressed the
need for a significant staff to conduct such program. They asked
me in return where to get the required staff, upon which I informed
them of the Gurdwara employees among the detained Sikhs outside
and asked for their release. They agreed to my suggestion and escorted
me to where the Sikhs were detained. As I pointed out our staff
members, their hands were sniffed.
(Astonished) Why did they sniff their hands?
I did not know either. Apparently, the hands used in firing guns
can be identified through smell. It can also be identified from
the fingers. Based on my request 15 Sikhs were released. The rest
were considered prisoners and sent to camps. Among the released
were Hajuri Ragi Mohinder Singh's tabla companion Bhai Gurcharan
Singh (who could perform kirtan as well), Surma Singh Karamjeet
Singh who could play tabla, and Sant Bhindranwale's Ragi Bhai Harbhajan
Singh. For several days these individuals conducted the kirtan.
The information regarding kirtan being performed by military personnel
in your diary is inaccurate.
Who did the Ardas?
This too was done by Sri Darbar Sahib's Ardassia Bhai Harpal Singh.
All these individuals stayed in my house for several days. Upon
seeking their release I took them to my house. Several of them had
blood stains on their cloths. They bathed and washed their clothes.
Several of them had to use my clothes.
Shabad kirtan started being relayed on the radio on June 8, who
organised this program?
The radio and electricity workers arrived on June 7. They installed
the necessary wires, etc. Military personnel brought a loudspeaker
from some Hindu individual. We returned it afterwards.
When were the dead bodies removed?
SINGH SAHIB: Giani
Zail Singh was to arrive on June 8. So the Indian forces removed
all dead bodies from the parikarma path from Ghanta Ghar anteroom
towards Baba Budha's Baeri tree. But the bodies were left elsewhere.
Even the sarowar had 10-12 floating bodies. I witnessed on June
7 that a Sikh ran out from a room along the parikarma and jumped
into the sarowar. The soldiers immediately opened fire and killed
him in the sarowar itself.
Did you learn anything about Sant Bhindranwale?
We learned on June 7 that his dead body was displayed in the Ghanta
Ghar's anteroom. However, we weren't allowed to go there.
Tell us about Giani Zail Singh's visit?
On the day of Giani Zail Singh's visit, some soldiers took me towards
the Langar building. All stories of this building were filled with
soldiers. Dogra regiment was stationed here. Colonel Bajwa and one
other Colonel informed me that some Sikhs were still in Ramgharia
Bunga. They had taken one Captain Doctor hostage. Furthermore, these
Sikhs had conveyed that if 5 Singh Sahibans asked them to drop their
weapons they will comply. Giani Puran Singh was with me.
As we approached the bunga, we saw two Gursikhs
seated with their backs tied to each other in front of the Bunga.
We asked the Colonels that if the Sikhs drop their weapons would
they not shoot them? They promised that if these Sikhs have not
killed any of their men, they will be spared. Within the Ramgharia
Bunga, approaching from Baba Kharak Singh's Dera side we spoke with
the Sikhs over a small loudspeaker. We told them "If you have
any military hostages, release them and come out, you will not be
We could hear some noises but could not understand what was being
said. Finally, we heard that they did not have any hostages. Upon
hearing this, the Colonel asked us to leave and said they will handle
it from here. Giani Zail Singh's arrival was fast approaching.
Was firing ongoing when Giani Zail Singh arrived?
Firing was continuously going on at one place or another. However,
your report that a security person in Giani Zail Singh's escort
was shot is inaccurate. When Giani Zail Singh arrived, one of his
escort had an umbrella covering him. I sent a sewadar and asked
for the removal of the umbrella. They obliged. Giani Zail Singh
paid respect upon reaching Harimandir Sahib.
The question of honouring him with saropa simply
did not arise. He asked some officer to contact me. Upon meeting
me, Giani Zail Singh first inquired about the Jathedar of Sri Akal
Takhat Sahib, Giani Kirpal Singh. I told him that he was safe. Then
he asked about the attack. I summarised the events. Further I told
him that the soldiers were moving around with naked heads, with
boots, and continuously drinking and smoking within the premises.
Their behaviour was inappropriate and derogatory.
Whenever they see a Sikh, they kill him without asking any questions.
Hundreds of Sikhs have been killed this way. Additionally, the sacred
places are being abused by them. They have done worse things than
the Mughals. How could all this happen under a Sikh President?
Giani Zail Singh told me that Mrs. Gandhi did
not tell him anything. He said that he wanted to visit on June 7
but could not. He said, "Even today I have managed to come
after great difficulty."
I told Giani Zail Singh that the soldiers misbehaved
with me and my staff. They make our job difficult. Why not arrest
us too? He immediately ordered the four generals, Sundar Ji, Dayal,
Baradh, and Jamwaal to provide security. I further explained that
the soldiers have looted the homes of our staff including Giani
Sahibans. Giani Mohan Singh has been badly beaten, arrested and
taken away. They wanted to burn the markets behind Sri Darbar Sahib
I later learned that the military had planned to burn the whole
street around my house and the Kolsar Bazar. They were saved by
Giani Zail Singh. Giani Zail Singh saw the sacred copy of Guru Granth
Sahib that was punctured by a bullet. He also witnessed the state
inside Sri Harimandir Sahib. Thus, upon reaching Delhi, he immediately
sent a package of Rumalas. I thought even though Giani Zail Singh
is a Sikh, the rumalas are government property, and therefore did
not use them.
Sardar Bhan Singh and Sardar Abinashi Singh were brought from camps
by soldiers for Sri Darbar Sahib's visit, when were they brought
for the first time?
They were probably brought on June 8. Interior Minister, Butta Singh,
first arrived on June 9, and subsequently visited everyday. On June
9, I, Giani Kirpal Singh Ji, Sardar Bhan Singh, and Sardar Abinashi
Singh met with Butta Singh inside Sri Harimandir Sahib and exchanged
views about various things. Committees were then organised to take
care of the treasury (Tosha Khana), Museum, and historical weapons.
Slowly, things started improving. I had informed the military on
June 7 that five Singh Sahibans will collectively make all decisions,
and take any actions. However, the Jathedar of Sri Akal Takhat is
the supreme authority. He can take any decision individually. Until
June 16, all the Singh Sahibans had gathered together.
Your interview on Doordarshan, was that given of your free will
or under the pressure of the military's guns?
SINGH SAHIB: The
situation in Punjab was very dangerous at that moment. Giani Kirpal
Singh had already read his views on TV. Whatever I said was done
in consultation with our organisers, Sardar Bhan Singh and Sardar
Abinashi Singh, etc. This was done to normalise the situation. However,
all statements were checked and approved by the military authorities.
They were constantly saying, "There is nothing here! Write
When was the sacred maryada of Sri Harimandir Sahib restored?
On September 29, the complex was handed over to us. The interrupted
maryada was restored from Oct. 1 onwards. (The first Akhand Path
at Har-Ki-Paudi was initiated for Giani Sahib Singh Ji).
Back to Top
Dr Subramanium Swami - Ex Member of Parliament
"Operation Bluestar created new
crusaders for Sikh Cause"
June 6, will be remembered as a landmark in modern Indian history.
On that date, the Indian armed forces took control of the Golden
Temple complex after destroying the Akal Takht and killing Sant
Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale. The nation, on the whole, expressed
relief. A few of us, however, expressed sorrow and felt that Operation
Bluestar, as the action was called, was horrible blunder which would
aggravate the problem of "terrorism", not contain it.
Since then, the problem has, indeed, been aggravated. New crusaders
for the Sikhs have now surfaced.
To put the record straight, Ram Jethmalani - the new Galahad - was
not one of those who had opposed Operation Bluestar. Today he may
pose at a defender of the underdog, but on June 6, 1984, he expressed
satisfaction with government's action.
This is said not, of course, to defend the BJP
in sacking Jethmalani. The BJP is wholly communal. As long as Jethmalani
was defending Haji Mastaan, the alleged smuggler king, Varadarajan
Mudaliar, Jaspal Singh (of the CIA espionage case), and the Sarda
case murders in Pune, the BJP was at peace with its principles.
But the moment Jethmalani decided to defend the two alleged conspirators
in the murder of Mrs Gandhi, the BJP expressed great revulsion.
This revulsion is due to the fact that the BJP is once again wooing
the vote-bank in North India which laid the foundations for Pakistan.
Besides, the BJP is now busy trying to make Khalistan inevitable.
The forces behind this vote bank are actively trying to polarise
Punjab. The BJP, thus, is aspiring to be the agent of the "silent
terrorists" - the Hindu communalist' - Jethamalani is merely
the fly in the ointment.
The Jethmalani issue is typical of the machinations
that have created the present situation in Punjab. Various actors
in the drama have indulged in posturing without regard for the consequences
on their histrionics. First, there was Mrs Ghandi, who described
the Akali Dal's 41 point economic and social demand charter as "secessionist"
in a effort to win the communal Hindu vote. There was nothing separatist
about these demands. Then came her son, Rajiv Ghandi, who maintained
that the Anandpur Sahib Resolution was antinational. There was nothing
unpatriotic in this resolution - if one cared to read it. He also
raised the alarm on the Sikh's use of words like "quam"
and phrases like "Raj Karega Khalsa" and on that basis
denounced the whole community as Khalistanis - all by clever innuendoes."Quam"
is no more unacceptable that the "desam" in Telugu Desam
or "nadu" in Tamil Nadu. And "Raj Karega Khalsa"
is roughly, the equivalent of "Satyameva Jayate". And
yet Sikhs were made to feel traitors for using these words .
Arguing the counterpoint on the Punjab issue,
all discussions must ultimately zero in on Bhindranwale, about whom
there is so much disinformation that this column is insufficient
to remedy the situation. In fact, I am writing an account of the
Punjab tragedy in the form of a book in which Bhindranwale figures
objectively - warts and all. I hope, my book will inspire a future
government to set up a special commission to find out the true story
of what happened. My first hand knowledge of events in Punjab also
lead me to say the following about Sant Bhindranwale. He never advocated
Khalistan even when the Indian army laid siege to the Golden Temple.
He was a strict moralist, totally against liquor, drugs and promiscuity.
Hence, I totally disbelieve any rumours about pregnant abducted
women kept as his prisoners, which were only spread to malign him.
He was stance anti-Communist, and had broken the hold of the Naxalities
and pro-soviet communists on the youth of Punjab.
It was Bhindranwale's anti-Communist stance
that activated the Russians and the KGB lobby in Mrs Ghandi's camp
to spread disinformation and thus discredit him. A few days before
Operation Bluestar, Pravda wroted that Bhindranwale had a direct
telephonic link with the CIA in Langley, Virginia, the headquarters
of the agency. That was untrue, but leading dailies in New Delhi
published wire service reproductions of that article. Who organised
this negative media blitz?
A large number of the murders committed in Punjab
brought swift condemnation from him, but these were never published.
Such were the manoeuvres of the governments media mafia. In my presence,
Bhindranwale had condemned the massacre in which Hindu's travelling
in a bus were segregated and shot. He sent money to the affected
Hindu families. But this was never published in any newspaper. When
Dr V.N Tiwari, MP, was shot dead in his house in Chandigarh, Bhindranwale
wrote to his wife expressing his sorrow and called the murder an
act of cowardice.
But there was such as frenzy in the country at the time that no
one was willing to listen. The government encouraged the rumours
and disinformation. Even I, who never said anywhere that there were
no arms in the Golden Temple, was quoted as having said so by Rajiv
Ghandhi in the 1984 monsoon session of parliament. When I challenged
him to produce just one news report from a reputable paper as proof,
he was unable to do so. All this is part of the Lok Sabha proceedings
which we can refer to and yet, from Kanyakumari to Kashmir, wherever
I went, the statement that I had never made was quoted again and
again to discredit whatever else I would say about Punjab. Who arranged
this publicity? The same people who finally murdered Bhindranwale?
Gateway to Sikhism
Back to Top
Operation Bluestar a Mistake
by Rear Admiral (Retd.) Satyindra
Blind Men of Hindoostan is the title of a book authored
by General Krishnaswamy Sundarji, published in 1993. On the dust
jacket it is stated that Sundarji makes a fictional Prime Minister,
his cabinet and the three Service Chiefs discuss the nuclear issue
but comes up with a chilling fact, harder to believe
than fiction: India has no coherent nuclear policy and, worse still,
does not have even an institutionalised system for analysing and
throwing up policy options! I decidedly select this title for my
article as I perceive it was nothing less than acute myopia that
led the leadership - political and military - to plunge into an
action of disastrous proportions - I refer to Operation Bluestar
- in June sixteen years ago.
One doesnt have to be a Nostradamus to
make a realistic appreciation of a situation and its attendant fallout.
But see what the fallout has been for the nation! India lost a Prime
Minister, a Chief of Army Staff, and had a major "mutiny"
of the Sikh troops! Over five thousand lives were snuffed out in
a ghastly fashion in the Capital and many other towns. What is more,
over three hundred Gurdwaras, where Sikhs - and Hindus - collectively
worshipped, were desecrated, damaged and destroyed. A whole community
Many volumes have been written on this and connected
subjects, both by Indians and foreigners. We, of course, have the
Governments White Paper - which is anything but white and
at best, a pathetic attempt to cover up both sin and crime. Atal
Behari Vajpayee said at that time that it evaded more issues
than it tackled. India Today called it as Operation Whitewash.
We have many pages in Khushwant Singhs
latest volumes of A History of the Sikhs, particularly
his chapter titled A fatal miscalculation. And, to quote
a few lines by him : "But the government, for reasons best
known to it, first let leaders of the ruling party help Bhindranwale
to build himself into a leader, allowed its police and paramilitary
forces to turn a blind eye to the smuggling of arms into the temple,
and then ordered its army to storm it with tanks and heavy guns.
Sikhs could be forgiven if they come to the conclusion that Mrs.
Gandhis government meant to give their community a bloody
punch on the nose. They were not likely to forget or forgive anyone
who had anything to do with Operation Bluestar."
We also have Mark Tullys volume Amritsar
- Mrs. Gandhis Last Battle. Lt. Gen. K. S. Brar, who
was actively involved in the operation, has also written a volume
which he - mendaciously - terms as, Operation Blue Star: The
There is a very pertinent volume of the monthly
magazine SEMINAR (April 1985), titled Using the Army
which carries articles by a galaxy of civil and military authors,
like KF Rustamji, Lt Gens ML Thapan, EA Vas and SK Sinha and Jaswant
Singh, now our Minister for External Affairs. Senior Lawyer and
activist, Nandita Haksar has a searching article and there is a
succinct summing up of the Punjab problem by author and publisher
Ramesh Thapar, in which he brings out what he terms as the badly
manipulated and short sighted political management by the rulers.
On the military side, there is a valuable volume Threat From
Within by Lt Gen VK Nayar, a distinguished soldier and paratrooper
who has served with distinction both in the western and eastern
sectors. Nayar was the Additional Director General of Military Operations
at Army Headquarters in 1984. He records his views with riveting
candour and unusual freshness.
In his first chapter. Punjab - an Overview
Nayar starts by starting that "Punjab is a sad story of missed
opportunities". He goes on to say that the basic reason for
the situation deteriorating has been, instead of being treated as
a national problem, it has been handled as a problem of a political
party with its parameters dictated by their coloured perception,
with a number of people having vested interests.... At best, the
situation was confined to terrorism without dealing with its causes
and realising the effects of these actions.
In a nutshell, the discernment of the problem was not there, certainly
not from the national point of view. He also mentions about the
infighting within the ruling Congress I, between Zail Singh and
Darbara Singh, and fully in keeping with Indira Gandhis policy
of keeping of chief ministers on tenterhooks and not permitting
them to function effectively. He said that he was amazed at the
lack of realisation of the actual situation and concern for Punjab
and its people.
Nayar also records that it was in November 1983, that some of them
in the Army informally started taking cognisance of the situation
in Punjab. All available information (not intelligence, as we were
not privy to it) was collected and a view was taken. The outcome
highlighted two main issues: first, that the manner in which the
situation was being handled, would only make it worse and may result
in it being dumped on the Army. Second, the armys involvement
would have its ramifications within the army and thereby the need
to warn and prevent it.
It was, therefore, the Armys professional
and patriotic duty to convey its views to the Prime Minister, as
any level lower than that would not be effective. We were firmly
of the opinion that the army should not be involved and if inescapable
we should be consulted before a decision was taken.
The logic and force of our arguments failed
to get any response. The total response was, "you have told
me !" This raises a vital question, he says. Should the Army
keep silent on such issues of national importance, particularly
when the Service interests and the interests of its men are involved?
Nayar emphasises that the Service and its head must convey its views
to the Prime Minister on issues of national interest, irrespective
of whether, at that point of time we are involved or not. We owe
it to the nation and to our men.
The government doesnt like "uncomfortable" Army
Chiefs. Here it is relevant to recall that Gen Arun Vaidyas
appointment was very controversial, and his being positioned as
the Chief of Army Staff by superseding Lieut General SK Sinha on
other-than-merit considerations, had hit media headlines. Sinha
tells the full story in his "A Soldier Recalls" published
a few years ago. Besides Vaidya was a sick man sustaining himself
by constant medication, even in office. This was no secret, and
confirmed to me by the then Southern Army Commander, Lt. Gen. Tirath
Sadly and regrettably, over the years there has been a surfeit of
pliable military leadership who are "willing to play the game".
The like of Sam Manekshaw who had the courage to take on not only
the entrenched bureaucracy but also tell Indira Gandhi that the
timing proposed by her in 1971 (Indo - Pak war 1971) was not suitable
to the army and insisted on what he considered a more suitable time,
are rare. Why create a situation is the ethos of many
of our top brass. Here I quote an incident of World War I. Admiral
Fisher reporting on Admiral Jellicos failure to destroy the
German Fleet at the Battle of Jutland stated that "Jellico
had all the qualities of Nelson except that he does not know when
Major General Afsir Karim, a paratrooper and
also a course mate of Lt Gen Brar, and a former Editor of Indian
Defence Review, in his review of Brars volume, says that one
wishes Brars attempts to explode what he calls certain myths
had been more convincing. Karim emphasises that Operation Bluestar
has been considered a failure for the following reason:
Akal Takht was damaged beyond recognition even
before Bhindranwale and his followers were killed or captured. Major
collateral damage was caused to the Temple complex and there were
a large number of civilian casualties as a result of frontal assault
on a constricted space.
Karim has a telling observation to make regarding
the assessment of the number of weapons in the Temple by the police.
It is intriguing, he says, that if the police (and the government)
really believed that the militants had only two hundred to two-fifty
weapons- the majority of which were 12 Bore guns and 303 rifles
- where was the need to call in the Army?
It needs to be mentioned here that, two centuries
earlier, the Golden Temple had been the target of attack, on the
Diwali day, in 1736 by the Mughal Army. It was a massacre of such
great magnitude that people remembered it for a long time as the
When Ahmed Shah Abdali had raided the Temple,
he too had chosen Baisakhi Day to launch his attack in order to
inflict the maximum casualties on the Sikhs who gather together
in large numbers to commemorate the Birth of the Khalsa. The Jalianwala
Bagh massacre at Amritsar also took place on Baisakhi Day. The invasion
of the Temple on 05 June 1984 was on the martyrdom day of Guru Arjun
Dev. How such unmitigated thoughtlessness was shown beats all reason,
logic, thinking and sense of proportion - and much more - unless
it was to emulate the Mughals, Abdali, and others.
Many, today, who have held the highest positions
in the Army condemn Operation Bluestar in no uncertain terms. General
Roychowdhury, former Chief of Army Staff has stated, in his interview
in a national daily (on 27 April 2000), when asked whether right
steps had been taken to tackle the problem of militancy in Punjab,
replied; "No, certainly not. I dont think that right
steps were taken. Operation Bluestar was totally unwarranted and
a mistaken step. The party in power at Delhi at that time had taken
the step more on political consideration."
General Sundarji passed away in Jan. 1999, but
left behind a partially completed autobiography titled Of
Some Consequence: A Soldier Remembers He planned to write
105 episodes, but lived only to write 33. It is his wife, Vani who
writes that Operation Bluestar changed Sundarji, and his laughter
was all but gone.
Source: Gateway to Sikhism
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1) EYE WITNESS ACCOUNTS OF THE ARMY ACTION
Who were the Eyewitnesses to the Golden
1. Devinder Singh Duggal
- In charge of the Sikh Reference Library located inside the Golden
Temple complex. Duggal is an acknowledged authority on Sikh history.
He used to reside in a house adjacent to the Sikh Reference Library,
was present there between May 28 and June 6, 1984 and hence (in
his own words) "an eyewitness to some of the atrocities committed
by the Army during its attack on the Golden Temple". About
fiftyish, Duggal now lives with his lecturer-wife in Jallandhar,
where we interviewed him. His eyes become moist and his voice quivered
as he described the assault on the Golden Temple.
2. Bhan Singh - Secretary of
the SGPC, short, slim, in his mid fifties, Bhan Singh is a man of
few words. He was present in the Golden Temple Complex during the
Army attack and was arrested at dawn on June 6 along with Longowal
and Tohra from the Guru Nanak Nivas which now houses the SGPC Office,
where we met and talked to him. His account begins from June 3,
3. Giani Puran Singh
- one of the priests at Harmandir Sahib.
4. Girl Student
- Granddaughter of SGPC member, she preferred to remain anonymous.
Aged about 20 years, she goes to college at Amritsar. She went to
the Golden Temple on May 29, 1984, with her grandparents and an
aunt, to fulfil a vow, and was there until June 6. We met her in
Amritsar in the house of a widowed victim of the November 1984 Delhi
5. A.I.S.S.F. Member
- about 25-years old, he would not give his name, son of a police
officer, he was visiting the Golden Temple in June 1984 for the
Gurupurab and was there from June 1. He was arrested by the Army
on June 6 but released in October. He was rearrested soon after
and had been again released a little before we met him. Remarkably
calm and soft spoken, he said that there were about 100 fighters
with Bhindranwale inside the Temple Complex and less than 100 arms,
mostly, 303 guns of the II World War. Extremely handsome, he is
a member of the All India Sikh Students Federation.
6. Prithipal Singh
- A young (24 years) Sevadar at the Akal Rest House, inside
the Guru Ram Das Serai, Golden Temple complex, where mostly distinguished
guests stayed. He was on duty throughout the period of the Army
Operation. He narrated how he had a hairbreadth escape, even after
being lined up before the firing squad on June 6, after he had been
arrested, stripped naked and his hands had been tied behind his
back with his turban. He showed us the bullet-ridden walls of the
Akal Rest House, where we spoke to him.
7. Joginder Singh
- and employee of the SGPC whom we met at the Golden Temple.
8. Surinder Singh
Ragi "Patnasahib Wala" - Head Ragi (singer) at
the Harmandir Sahib, we met the young man (about 35 years) outside
the Information Office of the Golden Temple, He was in the Kesari
(Sochre) roles of a priest. He was on duty at the Harmandir Sahib
during the Army action. He is an extremely popular singer of 'Shabads'
from the Gurbani and his tapes are on great demand. He spoke to
us with great conviction. "The Guru taught us to resist atyachar
(represssion), not to do atyachar".
9. Baldev Kaur
- an Amritdhari woman in her mid-thirties, she had come to the Golden
Temple on June 2, 1984 for the Gurupurab with her husband (Puran
Singh who is now in Kapurthala Jail) and three children from her
village Khanowal in Kapurthala district. She was so calm and fearless
when she described her tribulations. She is facing severe economic
hardships, cultivating only two acres of land, having no regular
source of income since her husband's arrest more that 9 months back.
10. Harchan Singh
Ragi - one of the Hazuri Ragis who sings at the Harmandir
Sahib, he is in his late fifties. With serene eyes and flowing white
beard, he has an endearing touch. He was on duty at the Harmandir
Sahib singing 'kirtans' when the Army shelled it very early morning
on June 4. Born into a Hindu Brahmin family, he was orphaned at
the time of partition and then adopted and brought up by Amrik Singh,
the blind Head Ragi of the Golden Temple who was killed inside the
Harmandir Sahib on the morning of June 5. We met him at the Information
Office of the Golden Temple, and he lives just above it. Raminderpal
Singh - an innocent boy - one of his sons, is detained at Jodhpur
Jail as a 'terrorist'.
Some of the details of the life in Amritsar
at the time of the Army action, were provided to us by the relatives
of a few of those who were captured from the Golden Temple after
the army operation, as 'terrorists' accused of 'waging war against
the State' and who are now being tried under the Special Courts
(Terrorists) Act at Jodhpur Jail. It is the Jodhpur detainees who
are eyewitnesses to the Army operations in Amritsar in June 1984,
not the relatives we met. But some of their evidence was passed
on to their relatives in the course of brief meeting in jail from
time to time. We met the relatives of:
(a) Kanwaljit Singh - A 20-year-old
student of Khalsa College (evening) Delhi, whose father (Satnam
Singh) runs a provision store at Lawrence Road, Delhi. Kanwaljit
Singh visited the Temple with his friend on June 2, wanted to return
to Delhi the same afternoon, but found that the last train had left
Amritsar. And so he was forced to stay at the Guru Ram Das Serai
inside the Golden Temple Complex. After Army action, he was arrested
by the Army from the Serai and later chargesheeted with 378 others
as 'terrorists' and detained under the N.S.A. We spoke to his younger
brother, Inder Mohan Singh, at Delhi.
(b) Jasbir Singh and Randhir
Singh - Two brothers who went to
Golden Temple, separately, on June 3 to pay their respects. As Jasbir
Singh was coming out after fulfilling his vow on June 3 at about
1:30 p.m. on the side of the Chowk Ghanta Ghar, he was detained
along with other youths by the C.R.P. The C.R.P. made them take
off their shirts, tied their hands behind them and made them sit
on the hot road outside the Information Office. Randhir Singh was
staying in a room in Guru Ram Das Serai, belonging to their uncle
(a member of the SGPC) from where he was arrested on June 5. Randhir
was injured by bullets on his leg. We spoke to their father, Harbans
Singh Ghumman, about 55 years a farmer and former MLA belonging
to village Ghummankala , district Gurdaspur.
2) OFFICIAL VERSION - FACT OR FICTION
These accounts of what happened at the Golden Temple on June 5 are
in marked contrast to the white paper or the army's common charge
sheet to the 379 alleged 'terrorists' captured from Golden Temple
now detained under N.S.A. at Jodhpur.
According to the White Paper: " All Commanders
were instructed to continuously use the public address systems for
a number of hours at every suspected hide-out of terrorists to give
themselves up in order to prevent bloodshed and damage to holy places
before the use of force for their apprehension." Was this actually
done? Our eyewitness accounts prove that it was not. Regarding Golden
Temple, the White Paper is also specific, "During the afternoon
and evening of June 5 1984 repeated appeals were made to the terrorists
over the public address system to lay down their arms and surrender
and to others inside the Temple to come out, to prevent avoidable
bloodshed and damage to structures in theTemple Complex. In response
to this appeal 129 m en, women and children came out and they were
handed over to the civil authorities." Is it possible to believe
this version? We have seen how the Army started shelling the Golden
Temple without any warning or public announcement from the early
hours of June 4. They continued this firing throughout June 4 and
6. The militants also fired in reply but they were no match, either
in terms of numbers of men or in amounts of ammunition. How could
the Army make 'repeated appeals' during the afternoon and evening
of June 5 when intense fighting was going on and how could 120 person
come out during this raging battle?
The Army's version, as revealed by its chargesheet
to the 379 alleged 'terrorists' detained at Jodhpur Jail, is even
more incredible. On June 5, when they were supposed to have been
deputed for duty outside the Golden Temple, the Army had the informati
on that "the extremists/terrorists led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale
had collected men, arms, ammunitions and explosives within the Golden
Temple and had also made other preparations to wage war against
the Government of India with the intention to e xtablish a State
independent of the Government of India to be known as Khalistan".
Or in other words, Khalistan was to be established at the Golden
Temple and if the A.I.S.S.F. member is to be believed, by about
100 fighters equipped mostly with 303 decrepit guns of the II World
War, a few 315 rifles and some stenguns. S. S. Bhagowalia an advocate
at Gurdaspur and Vice President of the Associtation for Democratic
Rights (A.F.D.R. Punjab) investigated and found that Bhindranwale's
supporters numbered no more that 140-150. It is strange that the
White Paper has nothing to say about the Khalistan flag - a country
without a flag! But the White Paper says that Khalistan was to be
established at the Golden Temple. According to the Army's chargsheet
and als o the White Paper, in response to the Army's repeated appeals
to the Terrorists to lay down their arms and surrender, they opened
intensive firing from inside the Complex. "They were shouting
anti-national slogans." This was a battle not a demon stration.
How could 'terrorists' engage in shouting anti-national slogans
at a time when they were allegedly using automatic and semi-automatic
weapons, grenades, explosives, etc? Even if they did shout these
slogans how could the slogans be heard over th e din and noise of
rattling stenguns and automatic rifles?
The White Paper also describes how the library
was allegedly gutted on the night between June 5 and 6 - "Troops
were able to enter the area around the Sarovar through the northern
deori and the Southern library building. Terrorists were in control
of the Library building and fired from there. At this stage, the
library caught fire - the Army fire brigade was rushed but their
attempts were failed by the machine-gun fire from the terrorists."
A perfect brief for the Army!
But according to Duggal who was in incharge
of the Sikh Reference Library and who cared for it, the Library
was intact when he last saw it on June 6, evening while leaving
the Temple Complex. However, he was in for a terrible shock when
he was brought back to the Temple complex by the Army on June 14.
Let us listen to Duggal's tale of sorrow as well as courage: "On
14th June 1984 I was arrested by the Army and taken inside the Golden
Temple, where I was shocked to see that the Sikh Reference Libra
ry had been burnt. The entire Golden Temple Complex presented a
very, very painful look. It bore at least 3 lakhs of bullet marks.
The Akal Takht was in shambles. Guru Nanak Nivas, Teja Singh Samundri
Hall, Guru Ram Das Serai and the langar buildings had been burnt.
When I left the Complex on 6th all those buildings were in good
shape in spite of the Army Attack, Taken to the Library's ruins,
I was asked by the Army Col. to take charge of the Library. I asked
him as to were is the Library. He said that I had no option but
to sign a typed receipt to the effect that I have taken over the
charge of the Library. I refused to oblige him saying that I would
not tell such a big lie."
The White Paper is very emphatic the "Troops
were particularly instructed not to wear any leather items in holy
places and to treat all apprehended person with dignity and consideration."
What was the reality? The reality was this:-
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Pieceing together the evidence of various eye-witness and
also second-hand socurces, such as Kirpal Singh, President of the
Khalsa Dewan, Amritsar and S.S. Bhagowalia, advocate at Gurdaspur
and Vice-president for the Association for Protection of Democratic
Rights (Punjab), the following picture emerges as to what happened
at Golden Temple from June 1, 1984. It is really amazing how, except
for some minor details, the accounts of different persons interviewed
separately tally so closely with regard to the date, the time and
the description of incident June 1, 1984. The AISSF Member, Duggal,
the girl student, Sevadar Prithipal Singh and Baldev Kaur all said
the the Golden Temple was fired at by security forces from the outside
for the first time on June 1 itself, not June 5 as claimed by the
White Paper. According to the AISSF member, "At 14.40 in the
afternoon of June 1, suddenly the CRP without provocation started
firing, aiming at the people inside the Parikarmas. There was no
firing, from inside the Golden Temple. The firing by the C.R.P.
was on the Harmandir Sahib and the Manjih Sahib. The firing continued
till about 8 p.m." Sevadar Prithipal Singh added that the shooting
which started from outside, was not preceded by any warning.
Devinder Singh Duggal's account is extremely
detailed and lucid. "By the end of May, it was widely known
that the Army is going to attack the Golden Temple, and on that
account there was tremendous tension in the entire city and its
surrounding ar eas. The worst fears of the people came to the surface
when on 1st June, the security forces which had beseiged the Golden
Temple for months together and had made strong fortification on
the multi-storey buildings all around it, suddenly started firing
in side the Golden Temple. The firing sarted at 12.30 p.m. and continued
for a full 7 hours. What was worse was that Harmandir Sahib was
made the main target of this firing. I took shelter along with my
staff behind the steel almirahs of the Library, one of the bullets
pierced through three almirahs and landed on the fourth and we had
a narrow escape."
Duggal continues - "Not a single shot was
fired from inside the complex. When I asked some of the boys as
to why they did not answere the firing, they replied that they were
under strict orders of the Sant not to fire a single shot unless
and unti ll the security forces or the Army entered the holy Golden
Temple. In the evening, when I heard in the news bulletin that there
was unprovoked firing from inside the Temple, but that the security
forces showed extreme restrain and did not fire a single sh ot,
I was surprised at this naked lie. The very fact that as many as
eight persons, includeing a woman and a child had been killed inside
the Golden Temple complex and there were as many as 34 big bullet
wounds on all sides of the Harmandir Sahib complete ly belied the
Government's version. I asked Bhan Singh, Secretary, S.G.P.C., to
do something to refute this falsehood. He said that nothing could
be done because all links with the outside world had been snapped."
According to the girl student, curfew was clamped
soon after the firing started. She confirmed the killings - "Authorities
had said none had died, but I dressed the wounds of 3 men who died
later in front me in Guru Nanak Nivas." That the cur few was
lifted soon after the firing stopped is indicated by the AISSF member,
who said, "after the firing stopped, at about 8.30 p.m., a
group of people (Jatha) courted arrest."
There is no doubt then that security forces
(C.R.P.) fired on the Harmander Sahib on June 1 itself and the news
over the A.I.R. that there was unprovoked firing from inside was
a blatant lie. However, most official versions maintain a meaningful
silenc e about the happenings of June 1. For them, as for example,
with the Government's White Paper, the story begins on June 2 with
the Government of India deciding to call in the Army in aid of civil
authority in Punjab, with the object of "checking and controlling
extermist, terrorist and communal vioulence in Punjab, providing
security to the people and restore normalcy." How much security
the Army succeeded in providing to the people and how much normalcy,
they were able to restore, is however, a nother matter.
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Duggal was relieved when "fortunately, on 2nd June a team of
five reporters including Mark Tully of B.B.C. came there (Golden
Temple) and were told the truth . They were taken around the Golden
Temple and shown 34 big wounds caused by the bullets on all sides
of the Harmandir Sahib, some of them as big as almost 3" in
"The 2nd June passed off peacefully,"
according to Duggal, because there was no firing and no curfew,
while Baldev Kaur said it was 'quiet'. A large number of Sikhs came
to the Golden Temple from the surrounding areas along with their
familie s as the next day, June 3, was Guru Parb or the martyrdom
day of Shri Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth holy Guru of the Sikhs.
The peace and quiet was only on the surface,
because active preparations were afoot to break the peace. Kanwaljit
Singh and his friend Manjit Singh from Delhi visited Golden Temple
on the morning of June 2 and found that there there was no restriction
for pilgrims to enter Amritsar or even the Temple. But the exit
doors out ot Amritsar were being closed. After visiting the Temple,
when Kanwaljit went at noon to the Amritsar Railway Station to catch
a train for Delhi, they were told that the last train had already
left and that the Flying Mail in the evening would not be leaving.
In fact they were told all outgoing trains had been cancelled. So
Kanwaljit and Manjit were forced to return to the Golden Temple
and put up in the Guru Ram Das Serai for the n ight. Thus was Kanwaljit
to miss his interveiw at Delhi with the Institute of Bank Management
on June 3 morning and his examination with the State Bank of India
the same afternoon.
The AISSF young man said that the C.R.P., outside
the Golden Temple was replaced by Army on the night of June 2. Although
there was no formal curfew, and all visitors entering the Temple
were allowed to come in without any ado, all those who left the
G olden Temple on the night of June 2 were being taken into custody.
"I did not therefore leave the Golden Temple complex",
said the A.I.S.S.F. member revealing his caution
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According to the AISSF member, "Guru Parb was on June 3. About
10,000 people had come from outside including many women and 4000
of them were young people. Those who were inside were not allowd
to go out after 10 p.m. on June 3. The Jathas which had come mainly
from Sangrur were not allowed to court arrest."
Bhan Singh confirms: "June 3 being Guru
Parb, thousands of pilgrims had come. But suddenly there was a curfew,
so the pilgrims and the 1300 Akali workers came to participate in
the Dharam Yudh Morcha and to court arrest, could not leave. The
Akali Jathas consisted of about 200 ladies, 18 children and about
1100 men and all of them along with the thousands of pilgrims were
forced to stay back inside the Temple complex. Most were living
in Guru Ram Das Serai, some at Teja Singh Samundri Hall."
The girl student remembers, "On June 3,
at 6 o'clock in the evening we came to know that Punjab had been
sealed for 48 hours and that even cycles would not be allowed on
Kanwaljit Singh sent a telegram home to Delhi
at 8.05 p.m. on June 3 from the Golden Temple Post Office "Coming
after curfew". It means that the curfew was 'reimposed' (Duggal's
word) between 8.05 p.m. and 10 p.m.
No one inside the Golden Temple had yet
realised the sinister plan of the authoritites. Punjab had been
sealed. Thousands of pilgrims and hundreds of Akali workers had
been allowed to collect inside the Temple complex. They had been
given no inkling or warning either of the sudden curfew or of the
imminent Army attack. It was to be a Black Hole-type of tragedy,
not out of forgetfulness but out of deliberate planning and design.
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Duggal's recollection are vived, 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 o f Akal Takht Sahib with
such a thunder that for a few moments I thought that the whole complex
had collapsed. I along with my wife were then sitting in the verandah
of my house adjacent to the Sikh Reference Library. Recovering from
the initial shock, we moved into the room and took shelter in one
of its corners. Therafter, every second the ferocity of firing increased
and it continued unabated till the evening of the 6th June.
As we were on the first floor, and our quarter
was open on all sides our position was very vulnerable. The bullets
hit our quarters on all sides and some of them pierced through the
doors and landed inside the room. To add to our miseries the power
and water supplies had been cut. Through a slit in the shutter of
a window we saw a large number of dead bodies in the Parikrama of
the Golden Temple. They included women and children. We could not
leave our room. Coming out in the open would have exposed us to
Baldev Kaur's account of how the Army attack
began is similar - "Very early on June 4, while it was dark,
there was cannon fire from outside the Golden Temple without any
warning. Shots were fired from all sides."
Bhan Singh is emphatic that no warning was given,
no public announcement was made by the Army before the shelling
of the Golden Temple started on June 4 - "had the army given
a warning at least those pilgrims who had come for the Guru Parb
could g o out and then those person who were simply here to participate
in the Dharam Yudh Morcha could go out. But no warning was given
to the people. The firing was started from all around the complex
with vengeance, as if they were attacking on alien, enemy co untry."
According to the girl student the shelling started
at about 20 minutes past 4 o'clock on June 4 dawn and continued
without interruption upto 2 o'clock in the afternoon of that day
(June 4), and evening of June 5.
Her account is extemely graphic - On June 4
at about 3:30 a.m. we were inside the Harmandir Sahib reciting our
prayers. Suddenly, thew was a black-out in the whole of the Goldne
Temple complex. The devotees continued to be immersed in worship.
A about 20 minutes past 4 o'clock there was a very loud explosion.
We felt that the whole of the Golden Temple complex was shaking.
I was alone on the balcony overlooking the lake or sarovar. Suddenly
something roundish fell in front of me. I was curious. So I ge ntly
touched it and pushed it into the water. As it fell, there was a
big noise and then the water rose and splashed into the Harmandir
Sahib. I started reeling, once tilting on one side and again on
the other. Someone pulled me inside. The explosions con tinued.
We then realised that the Army's attack on the Golden Temple had
begun." In a flash she described her companions - "Inside
the Harmandir Sahib there were about 50 to 60 persons - soem granthis
(priests), ragis (singers), sevadars (employ ees), the rest of them
yatris (pilgrims or visitors) like me and my family. I did not see
any armed terrorist."
The Army fired from all sides and did not spare
any target in the Temple complex which seemed to shelter people.
According to Prithipal Singh, the Sevadar on duty at Akal Rest House,
deep inside the Guru Ram Das Serai, the Akal Rest House was shelled
f rom the side of Gali Bagh Wali (to the left of the main entrance
from the side on chowk Ghanta Ghar) at 5 a.m. on June 4. The bullet
marks on the walls, the doors and windows of the side rooms of the
Akal Rest House bore silent testimony to the Sevadars s tory, as
we listened to him in May, 1985, almost one year after the shooting.
The Harmandir Sahib was not spared by the Army
on June 4, just as it had not been by the C.R.P. on June 1. According
to the girl student, bulletts hissed past her and her grandmother
and aunt when they crawled across the bridge on their stomachs in
the ir bid to escape from Harmandir Sahib. She managed to pick up
a portion of a shell which had exploded on the bridge near Harmandir
Shaib - it was marked 84 mm., and it had two colours, yellow on
the upper part and blue on the lower part.
Baldev Kaur's account suggests that there was
no immediate counter-fire from inside the Golden Temple complex.
The A.I.S.S.F. member said that "there was some stray firing
from inside the Golden Temple before the Army's entry into the complex"
;. The girl student provides a comparative picture of the magnitude
and intensity of firing from outside the Temple and from inside.
"The firing that took place from inside the Golden Temple was
negligible. On June 1, there was absolutely no firing f rom inside.
Wheras on June 4, the ratio what something like this - if a thousand
rounds were being fired by the Army from outside, then about one
or one and a half rounds were fired in reply by the armed militants
from inside the Temple complex."
Meanwhile, according to Duggal, "the helicopter
hovered above and continued to fire from above. Some of these helicopters
also guided the firing squads of the Army by making circle of light
around the targets. Immediately after these circles, the cannon
bell would land on the target causing havoc. We saw a large number
of boys blown to pieces."
According to Bhan Singh, "they (the
Army) treated the inmates of the Complex as enemies and whenever
there was any person wounded on account of the firing, no Red Cross
people were allowed to enter, rather the Red Cross personnel had
been detained beyond the Jallianwallah Bagh," - more that a
kilometre away from the main entrance to the Golden Temple from
the Chowk Ghanta Ghar side. In accordance with the U.N. Charter
of Human Rights, the Red Cross is permitted to go in aid of the
wounded rig ht inside the enemy territory, but in Amritsar in June
1984 the Red Cross was not allowed to enter the Golden Temple -
a respected and hallowed part of our country- in aid of Indians
under attack from the Indian army. It only means that the attack
was so brutal and the battle scene so grisly, that there was much
to hide from the public scrutiny, even if it be that of a neutral
agency called the Red Cross. This also explains perhaps why Press
Censorship had already been imposed, the last of the journalists
were hounded away and the Press was not allowed inside the Golden
Temple upto June 10 when they were taken on a guided tour of the
Complex for the first time since the Army Operations began almost
a week before.
Back to Top
The firing and counter-firing continued.
Harcharan Singh Ragi saw his guardian and mentor - the old completely
blind Head Ragi of the Golden Temple, Amrik Singh being shot by
a bullet and dying inside the Harmandir Sahib at about 6.30 a.m
. on June 5.
This was the respect shown by the Indian Army
to the Harmandir Sahib! The White Paper issued on July 10, 1984
adopts a holier-than-thou attitude - "Specific Orders were
given to troops to use minimum force, to show the utmost reverence
to all holy places and to ensure that no desecration or damage was
done to the Harmandir Sahib..." (Para 10) and once more "In
spite of this (machine-gun fire from Harmandir Sahib on the night
of June 5) the troops exercised great restrain and refrained fr
om directing any fire at Harmandir Sahib." All this is propaganda.
We have recorded the truth - the Harmandir Sahib was fired at by
the C.R.P. on June 1 and there wer 34 bullet marks on it which were
shown to Mark Tully of the B.B.C. the next day. Wh en the Army attacked
the Golden Temple at dawn on June 4, the Harmandir Sahib was the
target of destructive shelling and on June 5 two Ragis - one Amrik
Singh, blind, 65-year-old - a singer of devotional songs and another
Avtar Singh were killed by bullet s right inside the Harmandir Sahib.
Perhaps the White Paper was doing an exercise in sarcasm and irony
when it stated: "the troops exercised great restraint and refrained
from directing any fire at Harmandir Sahib."
Meanwhile, the girl student and her companions
had managed to come away from the Harmandir Sahib, crawling on their
stomaches across the small bridge. They were bundled into a room
on the ground floor of the Akal Takht. They kept sitting there,
having nothing to eat and no water to drink. To continue, in her
own words, "Helicopters were encircling the Temple from above.
After the helicopters completed their circle, at about 11:30 a.m.
on June 5, the huge water tank inside the Temple complex was fi
red at. The tank could not be broken even after the initial 10 shells
hit the tank. Then one bomb hit the tank after which it burst and
all the water gushed out. The fighters who had taken their positons
beneath the tank were killed.
"They continued the firing till the evening
of June 5 and then it was about 8.30 p.m. It was completly dark
when they entered accompanied by very heavy firing. The blasting
was so severe that I thought that I had reached some other world.
"We were 40-50 persons huddled together
in the room, including women and children, even a child of six months.
In the next room were the pilgrims who had come on June 3 to celebrate
Guru Parb but they had been trapped."
"The upper protion of the Akal Takht had
been fired at by the Army and completely destroyed. Pieces of the
Guru Granth Sahib were flying in the air and littering the ground.
The place seemed to have been transformed into a haunted house.
"Then the tank entered. It had powerful
searchlights. I thought the ambulance had come to attend to the
dead and injured. But it had turned out the opposite. The tanks
went riding past us. From the tanks the announcement came, loud
and clear: &quo t;Please come out, God's blessings are with
you. We will reach you home absolutely safe and sound," There
were some among us who were frantic for some water, they came out
in the open. In the morning I saw the dead bodies lying on the Parikrama.
This was the worst kind of treachery."
The A.I.S.S.F. Members narration of the events
of June 5 has a somewhat different emphasis - less personal reflection
and more of detached observation. On June 5th at about 8 p.m. the
Army entered the Complex through the Ghanta Ghar side under heavy
co ver fire. The road was blocked. Nobody was allowed to come out
of the Complex. The Army entry was not preceded by any warning of
announcement asking the people to surrender. "There was some
stray firing from inside the Golden Temple before the Army e ntry
into the Complex. But the real resistance began only after the Army
entered the Temple. The order from Bhindranwale was to use limited
firearms with discretion. There were only about 100 people to fight
and there were less that 100 arms consisting mo stly of 303 rifles
used in the World War II, 315 guns and a few stenguns. When the
army entered, the ammunition was nearly exhausted. "After mid-night,
at about 1 a.m. one armoured carrier and 8 tanks came inside the
complex. The tanks had powerful s earchlights and they came down
the stair-case, and the Army surrounded the langar building."
Even 11 months afterwards, we could still see the marks of the tanks
on the Parikrama.
Duggal's account is also informative. By the
evening of June 5, he and his family had managed to move to the
house of the Giani Sahib Singh, the head priest of Golden Temple,
which is about 25 yards away from the house he had earlier taken
shelter in. In Duggal's words, "The night between the 5th and
6th was terrible. The tanks and armoured carriers had entered the
Golden Temple Complex. The firing was such, that its ferocity cannot
be described. In the early hours of June 6th, we learnt that the
holy Akal Takht had been completely demolished in the firing. As
devoted Sikhs, we were extremely shocked. Tears flowed through the
eyes of everybody there. All through the night we heard the heart
rending cries of the dying persons."
Giani Puran Singh, a priest at the Harmandir
Sahib also an eye-witness remembers - "At 7.30 p.m. on 5th
I went to Sri Akal Takht where I met Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale
with who I had a long satisfying talk while shots were ringing outside.
Gyani Mohan Singh, whose duty was to conduct REHRAS (Evening Prayer)
had not been able to reach Harmandir Sahib, due to the shooting.
I then came down from the Akal Takht and joined some "Singhs"
in a morcha and enquired of them whether Gyani Mohan Singh had passed
that way. As per the tradition the 'Regras' at Akal Takht starts
5 minutes later than at the Harmandir Sahib, but that day Path at
the Akali Takht had already started. Upon this I rushed towards
Harmandir Sahib amidst gunfire, stopping for a breather at the Darshani
Deori. On reaching I started the recitation. Meanwhile, Gyani Mohan
Singh also reached the place. We were about 22 people in the Harmandir
Sahib, some devotees and others the employees of the Gurudwara.
By the time the path was over the firing outside became more intense.
'Sukhasan' of Guru Granth Sahib was done and then taken upstairs.
At 10.00 p.m. the tanks started entering the complex and a barrage
of shooting from without became more intense as heavy armour began
to be used. At this stage an armoured carrior entered and stood
beside the Sarovar. The lights on the carrier, when switched on,
bathed the whole complex in bright light. We were viewing all this
perched in the main dome of Harmandir Sahib and thought that prob
ably the fire brigade had come to get water for extinguishing fires
raging throughout the city. But we were proved wrong when this vehicle
came down to the Parikrama and stared firing. From both sides the
tanks started closing in, from clock tower to the Brahm Buta the
tanks set fire to all rooms while desperate people collected water
from the Sarovar to extinguish the fires. Loud cries and wails of
both women and children rent the air. A vigorous battle ensued and
the Darshani Deoris of Clock Tower and A tta Mandi along with the
Serais (rest houses) was in Army control by 10 o'clock, the next
day (June 6). The 40-50 youth who had been holding the forces fought
bravely till either they were killed or the ammuniton was exhausted.
From about 10 in the night till 4.30 the next mornign we were on
the roof of Darbar Sahib."
Back to Top
" At 2 a.m. on June 6",
says Prithipal Singh, Sevadar, at the Akal Rest House, "the
Army people came to the Rest House. They tore off all my clothes,
stripped me naked, my kirpan was snatched, my head gear (patta)
was untie d 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
b utts. 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 faci ng
the Major, when a Pahari soldier started shooting from one end,
killing four of us (with 3 bullets each). As my turn was coming,
suddenly a Sikh Officer turned up and ordered, "Stop Shooting".
Thus I was saved. The Sikh Officer was told, &quo t;these people
have ammunitions". At that he ordered them to lock us in a
room. Two of us were locked up in a room in Guru Ram Das Serai,
but we did not talk nor did I ask the other man's name. On 7th June
the door was opened at about 8 or 9 in the m orning. We had gone
without water. The floor was covered in blood. I was allowed to
leave." This was then the 'dignity and consideration' which
the White Paper had claimed was shown to those apprehended by the
Army. Bhan Singh picks up the thread of the story at about 4 a.m.
June 6. "I was arrested along with Sant
Longowal and Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra early morning on the
6th. We were encircled by the Army people, throughout the day from
4 a.m. till 5 p.m. when Sant Longowal and Jathedar Tohra were taken
to the Army Camp, but I along with many others was kept inside the
compound of Guru Ram Das Serai. We were taken away to the Army Camp
at about 9.30 p.m." Even on this point of arrest of Longowal
and Tohra, the White Paper has a totally different version - "At
1.00 a.m. on June 6, Sant Harchand Singh Longowal and Shri G.S.
Tohra surrendered near Guru Nanak Niwas with about 350 people. The
terrorist opened fire at them and also lobbed hand grenades to prevent
surrender. As a result, 70 people were kille d including 30 women
and children." Even Longowal is on record that he and Tohra
were arrested at 5 a.m. from Guru Nanak Niwas (where the S.G.P.C.
Office is now located) and kept there in Army custody the whole
day. Neither he nor Bhan Singh talk abo ut surrendering to the Army
nor do they refer to the killing of 70 people including 30 women
and children, by terrorists at the time of their surrender. Should
we believe Bhan Singh (and Longowal) or would we blindly accept
the White Paper's Version?
On the morning of June 6, as the girl student
opened the door of their small room and "came out to fetch
water, what did I see but piles of dead bodies, all stacked one
over the other. At first I instinctively felt that I wouldn't manage
to go out . All I could see was a ceaseless mount of dead bodies.
It seemed that all the persons who werre staying in the Parikrama,
not one of them had survived... The Army said later that they did
not go inside the Golden Temple wearing boots. But I have seen som
e of the dead bodies of the Army men in uniform - they were wearing
boots and belts." The White Paper is contradicted once more.
The girl student's narration continues. It is
an amazing and astonishing account of how she accidentally met Bhai
Amrik Singh, Prsident of the A.I.S.S.F. and Bhindranwale's close
associate. She had not met him before but once he told her his name,
she recognised him at once because his pictures had come out in
the papers. How Amrik Singh gave her some water in a bucket which
she gave to her relatives and acquaintances, but she could not bring
herself to drinking it because it was red, mixed with blood. How
Bhai Amrik Singh sent her a message urging her to leave the Temple
Complex at once with her group in order to escape being dishonoured
or being shot dead as 'terrorists' by the Army personnel, and also
to survive to tell the true story of what happen ed inside the Golden
Temple to the world outside. She recounts in breathtaking detail
how she picked up the courage to first come out of the Complex and
then bring out her relatives and acquaintances.
To quote her own words - "So I decided
to try to find the way out. There was a man lying dead. I had to
place my foot on him. My foot touched sometimes somebody's had,
sometimes somebody's body. I had to move in this fashion. There
is a staircase next to the Nishan Saheb (outside the Akal Takht)
and next to it there was an iron gate, which had got twisted because
of the shelling. I pulled the gate and came out, there was nobody.
The place was deserted. The doors of the houses were shut and locked
from outside. I was in a haze. For I saw the locks and yet I kept
shouting for shelter. Then I came to my senses, realizing that the
inhabitants had locked their houses and gone away. Then I broke
the mud patch in the wall of a house and entered it. One o f the
doors of this house opened out into the Golden Temple. I went back
to the temple through this door. I found a wounded man who relayed
my message to my grandmother through other wounded persons, that
I had managed to come outside, she should also com e out. By then
the room in the Akal Takht building, where I had taken shelter with
my grandmother was already in flames. The 20-25 people in that room
came out with much difficulty and reached the place where I was.
The house had been sprayed with shells and bullets and there were
gaping holes in the walls. We found a water tank in that house which
had escaped destruction, unlike the water tank in the Golden Temple
complex. First we all drank water from that tank. We met an injured
man who had also taken shelter in that house. He asked us to go
with him to his house. We accompanied him. He made us change all
our blood-soaked clothes; some we washed clean."
The narrations of Bhan Singh, Harcharan Singh
Ragis, Giani Puran Singh and the girl student tear apart the White
Paper that the Army had been instructed 'to treat all apprehended
persons with dignity and consideration', and also that 'no women
and chil dren were killed in the action by the troops.'
Bhan Singh remembers- "On the 6th morning
when hundreds of people were killed or wounded, everywhere there
were cries of those people who were wounded and injured but there
was no provisions for their dressings and there were no Red Cross
people w ithin the complex... Many young people aged between 18
and 22 years were killed and so were some ladies. A lady carrying
a child of only a few months saw her husband lying before her. The
child was also killed on account of the firing. It was a very touch
ing scene when she placed the dead body of the child alongside her
husband's body. Many people were crying for drinking water, but
they were not provided any. Some had to take water out of the drains
where dead bodies were lying and the water was red with blood. The
way the injured were quenching their thirst was an aweful sight
which could not be tolerated. The Army people were there, moving
about mercilessly without showing any sign of sympathy with those
injured or wounded. Those who were under arrest were not provided
any facility of water or food or any other thing of that sort. The
clothes of those who were arrested were removed and they were only
left with shorts-their turbans, shirts, etc. were all removed and
heaped together. Such a brute treatme nt was given to them, as if
they were aliens and not the citizens of the coutry to which the
Harcharan Singh Ragi similarly recounts- "My
quarters are on the first floor above the information office and
it was unsafe, with the firing going on endlessly, to stay there.
Four members of the family of Narinder Pal Singh, the Information
Offic er who also lived on the same floor as us and we five took
shelter in the basement of the Information office building. On the
6th of June, between 12 noon and 5 p.m., the Army announced that
people should come out. This was the first announcement given si
nce the Army operations began. All of us in the basement volunteered
arrest and the Information Officer and myself showed our identity
cards as employees of the S.G.P.C. As we were coming out, we saw
that hundreds of people were being shot down as they ca me out.
We saw many women being shot dead by the commanders. I also would
have been, but for my little girl, Jaswinder Pal Kaur (Anju), rushing
to the Army Commander and begging to save her father's life."
And now let us listen to the girl student once
more- "On June 6 at o'clock in the evening, they announced
a relaxation in the curfew for one hour. Meanwhile, we went through
some devious lanes and managed to take shelter in a house which
was some distance form the Golden Temple. The Army people announced
that everyone should come out. So we came out."
"There were about 27-28 persons with us,
5 of them ladies, some elderly men, the rest young boys. The Army
made all of us stand in queue. There were 13 boys out of which three
I clained to be my brothers. I did not know them from before. I
merely wanted to save them. I don't know why, perhaps because they
thought the 3 boys were part of our family but the Army released
these three boys. They went away. Out of the remainging male youths,
they picked out four and took off their turbans with which th ey
tied their hands behind their backs. Then the Army men beat these
4 Sikh boys with the butts of their rifles till they fell on the
ground and started bleeding. They kept telling the boys all along,
"you are terrorists. You were coming from inside. You were
taking part in the action. You will be shot." These boys were
shot dead right in front of me. They looked completely innocent.
Neither they seemed to know how to use a rifle, nor they seemed
to know the meaning of 'terrorism'. They were sho t before my eyes.
Their age was between 18 and 20 years. I did not know who they were
- circumstances had brought us together by chance. Whenever I recollect
that scene, I seem to lose my bearings.
"Then they (the Army people) surrounded
me and started questioning me. I told my granmother not to speak
a word to them as they were speaking only with bullets. I asked
them whether they had come to protect us or to finish us. I said
my grandfathe r was a colonel in the Army... The Army man... in
charge then asked his colleagues to leave me and my family members.
He told me to go away quickly. And so we were saved."
Giani Puran Singh narrates- "At 4:30 a.m.
on June 6, Guru Granth Sahib was brought down. PRAKASH done and
the Hukumnama taken, the kirtan of Asa-di-vaar started. This kirtan
was not done by the appointed Ragi Jatha (Hymn singers) but by members
of Bhai Randhir Singh Jatha, one member of which Avtar Singh of
Parowal was later martyred inside the Darbar Sahib. The official
Jatha of Bhai Amrik Singh had been martyred at the Darshani Deori
the previous day. Bhai Avtar Singh was hit by a bullet which t ore
through the southern door, one of which is still embedded in the
Guru Granth Sahib which is there since Maharaja Ranjit Singh's time.
Time passed and at 4:00p.m. on June 6, some poisonous gas was spread
and the Akal Takht captured, if not for this gas the forces could
not have been able to gain the Akal Takht. At 4:30 the commandant,
Brar spoke from a speaker on the Sourhtern Deori that all living
people should surrender. All those who had come face to face with
the forces had been eliminated. We (I a nd Gyani Mohan Singh) asked
all the 22 within the Darbar Sahib to surrender and told the commanding
officer that two priests had stayed behind and if need be, he could
send his men for them. He did not agree with them and called aloud
on the speaker that we should come out with raised hands. We decided
against this because if we were shot on the way it would merely
be a waste. We were in the Darbar Sahib till 7:30 when two soldiers
and a sewadar were sent to fech us. While on our way out I stopped
to pour a handful of water in the mouth of the wounded member of
the Jatha, who asked us to send for help. I promised to do so provided
I remainded alive. Gen. Brar, meanwhile announced over the loudspeaker
that nobody should fire upon us. The moment I stepped o ut of the
Darshani Deori, I saw the Akal Takht ruined and the rubble was spread
all around. Hundreds of corpses were lying scattered. We were wished
by Gen Brar who told that he too was a Sikh. He then enquired as
to what did we propose to do. We told him that we wanted to go to
the urinal and then be allowed to go to our residences. He allowed
us to go to the urinal and then we were questioned of the whereabouts
of Santji and were told that he would not be harmed. We told them
that they knew better as th ey were in command. We were questioned,
whether any machine-gunnists were operating from Darbar Sahib to
which we siad that they were welcome to inspect the premises themselves.
Five persons accompaied us to the Hari Mandir, one Sikh officer
and 3-4 other s. When we started the Sikh officer insisted that
we lead because if firing started from within, we would face them,
moreover we would be shot if someone shot from within. When we reached
the Harimadir, a search was carried out by them, picking and search
ing below very carpet but no sign of firing was traced. Meanwhile
the wounded member left behind had passed away. His body was placed
in a white sheet, brought out and placed along with various others
According to the A.I.S.S.F. member, "on
6th June at 5:30 p.m. we surrendered before the Army. 199 surrendered
before us. We were made to lie down on the hot road, interrogated,
made to move on our knees, hit with rifle butts and kicked with
boots on private parts and head. Our hands were tied behind our
backs and no water was given to us. We were asked 'how many people
were inside? and 'where are the arms and ammunition?' At about 7
p.m., we were made to sit in the parakrama- near the Army tanks.
There was firing from the side of the Akal Takht and many were injured."
This is yet another convincinbg evidence of the dignity and consideration
shown by the Indian Army to those captured, after the action was
Back to Top
Giani Puran Singh's account throws
light on how and when Bhindranwale was killed: "Time passed
away and at 7:30 a.m. on 7th we were taken out of the complex and
informed that the bodies of Santji, Gen Subeg Singh, Bhai Amrik
Singh, h ad all been found. When asked as to where were the bodies
found, the reply was that Santji's body was recovered from between
the 2 Nishan Sahibs while Amrik Singh and Shubeg Singh's bodies
had been found behind the Nishan Sahibs. The news carried by the
m edia said that Santji's body had been recovered from the basement
in Akal Takht. We were not shown these bodies but were led to our
residences by the military. The head priests who also came there
were informed that the bodies of Santji and others had bee n found.
In fact, if the bodies had been found, we would have been called
for identification but instead we were threatened to be shot lest
we tried to go near the rooms where they had been kept. Moreover,
if found, the body would have been embalmed taken to Delhi and kept
for some time before finally dispersing it. The White Paper's version
of the events is distorted and not convincing. For example: "By
the morning of June 6, the troops had effectively engaged all gun
positions at the Akal Takht and were able to enter the Akal Takht.
Room-to-room engagement commenced till it was cleared by 12:30 p.m.
on the afternoon of June 6, except for resistance continuing from
the ground floor and basements... On the afternoon of June 6, 200
terrorists surrende red including 22 from Harmandir Sahib."
Giani Puran Singhy who was one of the 22 has clearly said that the
22 persons who had surrendered from inside Harmandir Sahib were
'some devotees and others the employees of the Gurdwara'. Thus there
were no ar med terrorists inside the Harmandir Sahib- 50-60 persons-cited
by the girl student and the same figures-of 22 persons-given by
all other eye-witesses and also the White Paper. The fact that the
girl student accompanied by 27-28 persons left the Harmandir Dahib
on the afternoon of June 4 amidst the firing and took shelter in
the Akal Takht explains the descrepency in figures.
The White Paper also claims that "On 8th
June 1984, the terrorists hacked to death an unarmed army doctor
who had entered a basement of the Akal Takht to treat some casualties."
Giani Puran Singh's account gives an accurate description of thi
s incident: "There were 4 Singhs in the basement of the BUNGA
JASSA SINGH RAMGARHIA who were giving a tough fight to the forces.
They had also pulled down 3 personnel of the army who had ventured
close-one of them was a so called doctor. They were sw iftly put
to death., The authorities wanted these people to surrender but
they wanted some mutually responsible person to mediate. I was then
asked to mediate but first of all I asked the army offices of a
guarantee that none would be shot only arrested a nd later law would
take its own course. They were not ready for this and wished me
to talk to the Brigadier who too was noncommittal. They then asked
me to inquire if the three army personnel were alive. The reply
received was that no live personnel was t here in the base-At this
the Brigadier asked me to leave and that they would themselves deal
with them. These men in the basement fought the whole day, that
night and also the next day when Giani Zail Singh came to visit
the ruins of Akal Takht. Some thou ght that they had also aimed
for Giani but it was not so. These people did not know that Giani
was coming. If they knew before hand, they would definitely put
a bullet through the 'tyrant' but they were totally cut out from
the outside world. A colonel of the commandos attempted to flush
out these men in the basement with a gun and light arrangement but
as soon as he entered the basement, a burst of LMG wounded him and
it was later learnt that he had succumbed to the injuries in the
hospital. 2 cannons we re employed to fire at the Bunga, gaping
holes were formed on the Parikrama end but the men within were safe.
I saw from the roof of Harmandir Sahib that two grenadiers, had
been put on the grenade shooter and a continuous barrage of grenades
was being po ured but they still survived. Burnt red chilly bags,
chilly powder and smoke granades were thrown in; one of them came
out to be greeted with a hail of bullets while the others finally
were silenced on the 10th."
Similarly the White Paper's account of the amount
of arms recovered seem to be patently exaggerated. We may not accept
the A.I.S.S.F. members version that there were less than 100 arms,
mostly obsolete .303 guns from the II World War and some stenguns,
on the ground that it may be a partisan account. At the same time
it is not possible to belive the White Paper's version - "A
large quantity of weapons, ammuniton and explosives was recovered,
including automatic and anti-tank weapons. A small facto ry for
the manfacture of hand grenades and sten-guns was also found within
the precincts of the Golden Temple." If this modern arms factory
had been discovered inside the Golden Temple before the Army Operations
began there would have been no room fo r doubt or controversy. But
making such a claim after the Army operation was over. Only there
was the Army to testify. In contrast, our eye-witness have repeatedly
pointed out that the terrorists had a small number of men and limited
arms which had to be used sparingly. Would the resistance have collapsed
so abruptly, if there were hundreds of terrorist manning a modern
arms factory, as claimed by the White Paper.
The White Paper's figures of the number of people
killed or injured at the Golden Temple during the Army operations,
seem to reflect gross under-estimation and understatement. The White
Paper's figures of the casualties on account of the Operation Blue
star alone are:
1. Own troops killed 83
2. Own troops wounded 249
3. Civilians/terrorist killed 493
4. Terrorists and other injured 86
5. Civilians/terrorists apprehended 592
Our eye-witness accounts point out two unmistakable facts:
(a) There were thousands, perhaps ten thousand
people, consisting of pilgrims, S.G.P.C. employees, Akali volunteers
came to court arrest, and terrorists present inside the Golden Temple
complex when the Army started firing at the Golden Temple from all
sides on the dawn of June 4.
(b) The battle lasted nearly 56 to 60 hours
from 4 a.m. on June 4 to about 4 p.m. on June 6. The firing was
almost incessant and continuous and, despite the White Paper's several
claims, had no constraints. It was a most fierce battle.
Therefore, not hundreds but thousands could
well have died during the operations, and thousands maimed or injured.
The girl student had seen stacks and stacks of dead bodies piled
up all over the parikrama very early on the morning of June 6. Joginder
Singh estimates that at least 1500 dead bodies were lying on the
parikrama. Bhan Singh saw hundreds of people dying before him on
June 6. Harcharan Singh Ragi saw hundreds of people including women
and children, being shot down by Army commandos, as they came out
to surrender on the afternoon of June 6 outside the Golden Temple
on the Ghanta Ghar side. We may hesitate to accept exact figures
such as A.F.D.R. Vice President S. S. Bahagawalia'a estimate of
2009 killed including about 400 Hindu Bhaiyyas or t he AISSF members
estimate "that 7 to 8 thousand people were killed" or
Surinder Singh Ragi's confident assertions that 'during the Army
operation at least 7000 people were killed on the parikrama and
another 1000 dead bodies were recovered from various rooms."
These are all impressions. There is no reliable estimate because
the Press was not allowed.
Nevertheless the clear conclusion emerges that
hundreds and hundreds of people were killed during the Army Action
on Golden Temple in June 1984 most brutally. It was indeed a mass
massacre mostly of innocents. The post-mortem reports (see Annexures
7 & amp; 8) speak of the Army's brutatlities in very clear terms-
(i) Most of the dead bodies had their hands tied behind their backs
implying that they had not died during the action, but like Sevadar
Prithipal Singh's temporary companions lined up before th e firing
squad, all of them must have been shot after being captured and
(ii) At the time of the post-mortem, the bodies were in a putrid
and highly decomposed state--they had been brought for post-mortem
after 72 hours implying a totally callous attitude towared the injured
and the dead.
Even after June 6, many died due to negligence,
while under the detention of the Army and many others were killed
in Army camps. According to the AISSF member: "On the evening
of 7th June 1984 I was brought to the Army Camp and locked in the
Arms Rooms with 28 persons. It had no ventilation and there was
no water. 14 died of suffocation including Sujan Singh, a member
of the SGPC." According to a former MLA, Harbans Singh Ghumman,
37 Sikh youths were killed on one of the Army camps at Amritsa r
between June 16 and June 18, 1984. He had been personally concerned
about this incident at that time as he had learnt that this youngest
son, Randhir Singh, was also being detatined in one of the military
camps at Amritsar.
Joddhpur Detenues - Were they Waging War
One of the purposes of "Operation Bluestar" according
to the White Paper, was to flush out the terrorists from the Golden
Temple complex. Hundreds of people who were arrested from the Golden
Temple after the army action and detained by the Ar my were charged
as terrorists". 379 of the alleged 'most dangerous terrorsits'
were forced to sign a common confessional statement and thereafter
served a common charge sheet that they were all Bhindranwale's closest
associates and comrades-in-arms e ngaged 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 'te rrorists' posed to the State 'with the
intention to establish a State independent from the Government of
India to be known as Khalistan", we visited the homes of some
of the Jodhpur detenues and met their families or relatives. The
evidence collected established beyond doubt that none of the Jodhpur
detenues 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-a
s devotes or pilgrims visiting the golden Temple for the Guru Parb
on June 3, 1984 or farmers gone to the Temple to deliver village
donation of grain to the S.G.P.C. or students gone to pay obeisance
at their holiest religious shrine, the Harmandir Sahib before their
examinations or interviews. The following are the case studies of
the Jodhpur detenues:
1. RAMINDERPAL SINGH
(Pet name: Happy), aged 20 years, son of Harcharan Singh Ragi, whom
we have met already. When Harcharan Singh Ragi and Information Officer
Narinder Pal Singh's families came out of the basement on the 6th
of June, they were all arr ested from outside the Golden Temple
and taken to the Army Camp. In the words of Harcharan Singh Ragi-
"I was release on June 18. My wife and daughter were released
on June 22, but not the boys. Again, on July 13, my eldest son was
released but not R aminderpal, my second son. He was taken to Amritsar
Jail from where he took his frist year examination between August
8 and 22. Then he was shifted to Nabha Jail on August 31, 1984.
On March 10, 1985, he was taken to Jodhpur Jail, from where he is
taking the second year examinations now. There was no charge-sheet
against any of us. But Raminderpal was falsely imlplicated as having
been arrested from inside the Golden Temple and charged 'with waging
war againt the State.' He was put under the Amended NSA, which disregards
the recommendations of the Advisory Board.... My son has been charged
with "waging war against the State". But he is one of
the gentlest and known for his courteous behaviour. He used to play
hockey at the district level when he was at school. He is fond of
reading, can play the harmonium and he is a good singer. Often he
used to accompany me in the golden Temple during our Kirtan sessions.
He was a serious student and in December 1983 when there was a strike
at Khalsa College, he left it in disgust and studied at home. What
he earned doing overtime singing kirtans in Harmandir Sahib, he
spent it for lessons in mathematics. His closest friends are Hindus.
An ideal boy, so innocent, today he is in Jodhpur Jail accused as
an 'extr emist'.
With great sadness, his wife said, "One
who spent his life in struggle, how could he bring up his children
- We have met Kanwaljit before we left his story at the point when
he sent telegram home on the night of June 3, 1984. Operation Blue
Star started thereafter. Kanwaljit was arrested by the army from
the Serai and was taken to an Army Camp where he was tortured and
interrogated. "Why did your come to Golden Temple? Where have
you come from? Did you have arms? Did you come to fight?'
Meanwhile, Kanwaljit and Manjit's families in
Delhi had no knowledge about their whereabouts, Kanwaljit's mother
visited Amritsar in the late June 198 to inquire about her son.
His father and brother did not go as it was feared that any male
Sikh who w ould go to Amritsar to inquire would be arrested. At
Amritsar, Kanwaljits's mother saw a list of those killed, injured,
and arrested during Operation Bluestar with the S.G.P.C. In the
list of those who had died, there were only 3 or 4 names, that of
Bhind ranwale, Amrik Singh and so on. The mother saw Kanwaljit and
Manjit's names in the list of those arrested.
She was told that Kanwaljit was being detained
in an Army Camp. She went to the said Army Camp in July with her
sister. She was not allowed to meet her son. She went twice more
in July to the Army Camp but was not permitted to see or meet her
The Government first informed Kanwaljit's family
on September 15, that he had been transferred to the Nabha Jail.
They could have an interview with him twice a week, on Tuesdays
and Thursdays. In Nabha Jail, Kanwaljit and many others were made
to sign a common confessional statement and served a common charge-sheet
alleging that he and his companion, were armed terrorists, that
they were followers of Bhindranwale and that they had gathered to
wage war against the Indian State in order to establish a se parate
State of Khalistan by violent means.
They were then transferred to Jodhpur Special
Court. He has been put under NSA, detained for 2 years. Whereas
in Nabha Jail, all relatives were permitted to visit, at Jodhpur
only parents were allowed to visit once a week.
Kanwaljit was brought to Delhi on April 11,
1985 to take his examinations to reappear for B. Com. (Hons.) II
year. The parents were allowed to meet him at Tihar Jail only after
a lot of harassment and objections.
Kanwaljit is a man of few words. He does not
mix much and has few friends, Manjit being the closest. Kanwaljit
used to go to the NDMC Stadium at New Delhi every morning for swimming.
On returning he used to play carrom and chess with Manjit and read
ch ess books. Chess is his first love and he was winning awards
in chess competitions. In 1982-83, he came second in the Khalsa
College (Evening) Class tournament. In 1983-84, he again came second
in the Inter-class Chess Tournament. He received a magnetic c hess
set as a prize from Raja Bhalinder Singh, who was President of the
Indian Committee of the Asiad Games, 1982. He used to participate
in various chess tournaments in Delhi and rarely missed prize chess
matches between well known chess masters.
There is a photograph of Kanwaljit receiveing
a prize from Raja Bhalinder Singh. He looks simple, innocent and
so straight-forward and honest. He is not an Amritdhari. Lately,
he was very keen to find a job and that is why he was to attend
an interview with the National Institue of Bank Management at Delhi
on the morning of June 3, 1984 and again take an examination in
the afternoon for the State Bank of India Regional Recruitment Group.
He has also applied to the Railway Service Commission to take the
written examinations for recruitment to non-technical popular categories
such as signallers, ticket collectors, train/office clerks, etc.
He was to appear for this examination on 26 February 1984 but it
was postponed. It was to be held again on September 9, but this
time Kanwaljit was under detention.
Kanwaljit enjoys a very good reputation. Mr.
Shyam Lal Garg, Member of the Delhi Metropolitan Council from Tri
Nagar and Mr. Sahib Singh Verma, Member of the Municipal Corporation
from Lawrence Road, West Delhi, have both certified that Kanwaljit
was p ersonally known to them and that he was just a student and
never participated in any party or political activity.
3. BHUPINDER SINGH,
aged 22 years, s/o Jiwan Singh r/o Vill. Rayya Tehsil Baba Bakala,
P.S. Beas, Distt, Amritsar - Interview with the father, Jiwan Singh:
"I came here during partition from Sargodah,
Distt. Multan, which is now in Pakistan, I have 3 sons and 2 daughters.
I have a business of paints, steel trunks and agricultural implements.
I have no agriculture land. I am the Pradhan of Akali Dal ( Longowal)
unit in village Rayya.
My youngest son Bhupinder used to manufacture
steel almirahs. He had taken part in the Rasta Roko movement, putting
up posters, etc. but was not arrested then. But during the Constitution
agitation of 1983 he was arrested and mercilessly beaten but he
was released due to the intervention of Bhai Amrik Singh of the
AISSF. That was his first contact with AISSF. And is was only after
his brother, Tejender Singh's arrest in a false case for which he
was jailed and the case went on for 7 months, that Bhupin der started
visiting Darbar Sahib. After his brother's arrest, because of the
harassment of the police, he was careful and often he used to sleep
Finally, he himself was arrested at Kathiwali
Bazar on June 6, 1984 after he had escaped from Golden Temple on
June 3. He was taken to an Army Interrogation center from where
he was taken to Nabha Jail. The army subjected him to inhuman torture.
When h e was in Nabha Jail, he was taken to Ladha Kothi in Sangrur
for 18 days. When I saw him, I could see that he had been terribly
tortured but he wouldn't tell us. There I learnt from him that he
had taken Amrit and was doing Path daily, which he said gave h im
In all Bhupinder has been implicated in 8 cases,
each of which is false:
he is Jodhpur jail because he is supposed to have been arrested
from the Golden Temple for 'waging war against the State'. But the
police know that he was picked up from Kathiwali Bazaar outside
(ii) The Nirankari
murder case of village Khabbe Rajputana near P.S. Mehta of 1979-80,
when Bhupinder was just a school boy. It is obvious that this case
has been planted on him retrospectively.
Nirankari murder case of village Ghanupur Kaleke, P.S. Chaherta,
near Metha Chowk of 1980. (iv) Mannawale Railway Station, Flying
Mail Murder Case of Sub-Inspector in 1982. (v) Encounter of an 'extremist'
group with the Railway Protection Force at Rayya Railway Station.
Bomb case of Rayya - Bhupinder was at thome at 4-5 p.m. when the
bomb exploded. Bhupinder's name was not there in the initial list
of suspects but was added later.
Bomb Case - which occurred at 10 p.m. when Bhupinder was actually
at home. (viii) Dhyyanpur Bridge Expolsion case in which Bhupinder's
name was added to the list of the three accused. At this point,
Jiwan Singh brought out the photograph of his son Bhupinder.
Bhupinder's mother has given up eating certain
dishes which the boy was fond of. Very gently, she told us that
the food the boys get in jail is so bad.
Jiwan Singh continued, and went on to narrate
the harassments that he and his family have undergone:
"After the Operation Bluestar, the CRP
visited my house 3 times in 24 hours and raided it but found nothing.
They abused my wife and daughters and daughter-in-law.
After a couple of days, the Punjab Police came
and took me and my eldest son Gurvinder Pal to Jandiala, P.S. and
released us after a couple of days. Another couple of days, the
Punjab Police came again and took away two of my sons Gurvinder
Pal and Tej inder for interrogation and detaind them at Rayya P.S.
for 20 days.
But we were not to have peace. A couple of days
after Gurvinder and Tejinder's removal, came the army, who took
me, my son-in-law and the son of my brother-in-law to the Army camp
at Sathiala College, Baba Bakala. We were made to sit in the hot
sun. We were terrorised and then released."
The old man said with the great bitterness,
"We are gulams (slaves). Whenever they made signs, we are taken."
4. Kashmir Singh
s/o Gajjan Singh, r/o Vill & P.O. Baba Bakala, P.S. Beas, Distt.
Amritsar, aged 50 years - Interview with Smt. Jasbir Kaur, 45 years,
wife of Kashmir Singh.
"My husband went to Darbar Sahib for the
Guru Purb. He did not return for about a month, when I learnt from
a policman who came to tell me that he had been arrested and was
in Nabha Jail. I went to see him on 20.7.84 and heard that he had
been pic ked up from Bazaar Kathian on June 6." (Obviously,
he too like Bhupinder Singh of Rayya who was arrest from outside
the State' a middle aged small farmer hardly owning one and half
acres of land and four small children to feed and not belonging
to an y political organisation. He was too dangerous to move about
freely and knew so much that he had to be repeatedly tortured at
Ladha Kothi. "He was taken twice to Ladha Kothi and tortured
for 12 days each time by the well known methods."
"I met him again on October 31. Since then
I have not been able to see him since I am too poor to afford it."
5. RAM SINGH,
s/o Late Makhan Singh, r/o Vill & P.O. Baba Bakala, aged 30
years - His uncle Sulakhan Singh (who looks after the family) was
"Ram Singh is the only son of widow. He
has only 1/9 acre of land, belongs to a poor peasant family. He
has studied only upto class 8 and was employed in a small capacity
in the Government depot. He is a bachelor.
He had gone to Darbar Sahib for the Guru Purb.
He was arrested from Golden Temple charged, with 'waging war', taken
to Amritsar and Nabha Jails and is now in Jodhpur jail. There was
never any case against him. He was extremely well-behaved. He is
total ly innocent.
The police have been coming and repeatedly interrogating
his mother and uncle.
6. GULZAR SINGH
s/o Late Arjun Singh, r/o Vill & P.O. Baba Bakala, aged 33 years
- Interviewed his uncle Rattan Singh, a granthi.
They have a joint family. Gulzar is married
and has a little girl, aged one and a half years. He is a preacher
and does the Akhand Path in the Gurudwara. He went to Golden Temple
for Guru Purb and was arrested from there and chrged with 'waging
war aga inst the State'.
Gulzar is a simple person. He studied in a orphanage
7. MANJIT SINGH
s/o Bawa Singh
8. RANDIR SINGH
s/o Mangal Singh
9. RANDIR SINGH
s/o Bahadur Singh
r/o village Dehriwal, Kiran, P.S. Kalanpur,
These 3 young boys took the village donation
of grain to Darbar Sahib for the Guru Purb but were arrested and
charged with 'waging war against the State' and are now proclaimed
as terrorists and lodged in Jodhpur Jail. 10. BAKSHSISH SINGH, s/o
Hon. Cap t. Ram Singh, r/o Vill. Butala, P.S. Dhilwan, Distt Kapurthala,
aged 43 years.
Interview with Bakshish Singh's sister, Smt.
Hardev Kaur, a widow with two children.
"My brother Bakshish Singh was a manager
of Punjab & Sind Bank branch at Guru Ramdas Serai, Golden Temple,
Amritsar. He was receiveing a salary of Rs. 3000 per month. He was
a devout Sikh, had taken Amrit and used to preach in the villages
and exhort people to take Amrit. He was very generous and used to
Our mother is 65-year-old and father is ill
and now in Patiala Hospital. We have no land.
On June 7, 1982 my brother had organised a religous
meeting at the village, but he did not speak. Early the next day
he was arrested for the first time in his life, on a false report
that he was propagating Khalistan. He was detained at P.S. Dhilwan
an d then sent to Interrogation Center, Amritsar for one week, where
he was severly beaten. Later he was taken to Kapurthala jail and
was released only afer 1 year between June 1983 and May 1984 when
Bakshish rejoined his work at the Punjab and Sind Bank, Am ritsar.
On June 1, 1984 Bakshish had gone to the Golden
Temple with his wife for her treatment for tumour and they were
in Guru Ram Das Serai, from were both were arrested on June 6. His
wife was taken to Jallandhar jail, kept therre for 22 days and then
taken to Hospital and operated upon.
Bakshish Singh was first taken to Amritsar Jail
and after two months in Nabha Jail and after 7 months there, and
mercilessley tortured at Ladha Kothi were he was kept for 15-20
days, ant then he was shifted to Jodhpur Jail on January 11, 1985.
We have not met him since then.
The family is so impoverished that Bakshish's
two sons could not continue their studies. The elder son (Iqbal)
along with his mother are in Patiala Rajindra Hospital suffering
from mental depression. The Bank had not paid Bakshish Singh anything
and ha s shown him as absent. We have about 5 to 6 acres of land
for the entire joint family.
We are being constantly harassed. Earlier the
Army used to come and interrogate us and now the polcie visit us
every other day."
We have here documented for the first
time eye-witness accounts of what really happened when the Indian
Army attacked the Golden Temple complex in the first week of June
1984. It is one of the most gory and tragic chapters in the entire
history of mode rn India. The brutalities, the killings, the desecration
and destruction of their most sacred place, has left a most bitter
memory and feeling of deep resentment in the mind of every Sikh.
Source: Gateway to Sikhism
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4) Some Retrospections
At the end of it all, two questions are asked by the Sikhs of Punjab.
Was the Army action necessary and unavoidable? Secondly, if unavoidable,
could it not have taken a different form, avoiding all the destruction
and the blood shed and the brutalities ?
Kirpal Singh, President of Khalsa Dewan, Amritsar,
told us - "If the government had been sincere in its efforts
in solving the Punjab problem, it would have solved it long ago
even before the Blue Star Operation, and there would have been no
cause for the Akalis and others to orgainise Morchas of the thousands
of the peopl, from time to time, and the extremists would have been
isolated and it would have become known as to who were the extremists,
what kind of men they were, and what they had been doing. The Government
could have negotiated with them. If the Government could talk with
Laldenga of Mizos and extremists of the Nagaland, who had been fighting
with our military for the last 31 years, then what was the difficulty
in talking to the extemi sts of Punjab and asking them what they
wanted, what they were fighting and why they were collecting arms?"
Similarly, S.S. Bhagowalia who is the Vice-President
of the Association fro Protection of Democratic Rights (Punjab)
was extememly forthright, "when the government in 1948 could
control and capture Hyderbad from the Nizam who wanted to secede
from independent India without any violence and killing of the common
people, why this Government could not capture Bhindranwale with
tact, without any damage to the Golden Temple? This has created
tension and anger amongst the minds fo the people". Surinder
Singh Ragi gave another example - "The Indian Army had captued
93,000 soldiers of Pakistan army in Bangladesh in 1971 without bloodshed.
Was bloodshed the absolutely necessary at the Golden Temple to flush
out a hundred or so terrorists?"
Hazara Singh Vadale, and employee of the SGPC,
echoed a common sentiment. "The way the government of Independent
country attacked the Golden Temple reminded us of the medieval time
when our religion was attacked and we are persecuted. Thousands
of women, children, pilgrims, had gathered here on June 3 for Gurupurab.
They had no connection with politics, why they shot down?"
Kirpal Singh elaborating on the excesses committed
said: "At the time of Blue Star Act, it could be known how
many died of those who were fighting with the military but the fact
is that due to Guru Purb Day hundereds of pilgrims had come and
were staying in the premises of the Darbar Sahib. There were children
and women among them. These pilgrims were unarmed and the military
attacked them and killed them. Thereafter the military did not allow
their dead bodies to be cremated by the relative nor h anded over
the same to them. Their dead bodies were insulted. No effort was
made to record their names and addresses. Now it has created a lot
of problem. For example, if any deceased has any insurance or bank
balance or any land dispute, his heirs require death certificate
but in absence of any record of it, they did not get any compensation.
Even in the history of military wars, the people are allowed to
take the dead bodies from each others territories by showing white
flags. When General Dyer killed people in Jallianwall Bagh, he also
allowed the dead bodies to be taken by the relatives."
Shiv Singh Khushpuri, 65 years, a member of
the S.G.P.C. from Gurdaspur district, said, "It was the duty
of the State to identify the bodies of those who died in Operation
Blue Star. Afer the Jallinwala Bagh massacre, the British Government
identi fied those killed, handed over their bodies to the next kin
and paid Rs. 2000 as compensation for every person killed in the
incident. Whereas in Blue Star Operation, the present governemnt
of an apparently independent country have not only not identified
those killed or missing, rather they are harassing and persecuting
the families and friends of those who are reportedly missing."
S.S. Bhagowailia throws light on the efforts
of the Government to suppress information. "The doctors who
conducted the post-mortem of the victims of the army action at Golden
Temple were simply terrorised. If there were 20 bullets in a body,
they were forced to record only two bullet wounds, under the threat
of being shot." This only indicates the extent of massacre
that took place and the ferocity with which the Army undertook the
operation. The common feeling in Punjab is that it was indeed not
an Operation against Bhindranwale and other so called terrorists
according to the Government, it was an attack on the Sikhs "to
teach them a lesson" so that they would never again raise their
head or voice of protest.
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