Monday, December 05, 2016
Gateway to Sikhism

 

7th June

 

???? Fort Sri Lohgadh Sahib captured by the Khalsa forces.

==> LOHGADH SAHIB: a fort in Amritsar, established by Guru Har Gobind Sahib for the ammunition production and precurement.

-Ref. Mahan Kosh (pp. 1072)

1864 Maharaja Dalip Singh married Miss Bamba in Alexandria, Egypt.
1984 GurSikhs from rural Punjab march to defend Sri Darbar Sahib despite the heavy presence of armed forces.

Learning of the operation Bluestar, hundreds of thousands GurSikhs from rural Punjab march to defend Sri Darbar Sahib despite the heavy presence of armed forces. They wanted to stop the sacrilege of Sri Darbar Sahib. Sikhs came from RajaSansi-Ajnala, Taran-Taran, Nawa Kott roads. They were fired upon with helicopers and thousands of Sikh marchers were shot dead. Several thousand Sikhs, including women and small children were arrested.

1984 Operation Bluestar: Sikh soliders rebellion. Several Sikh solidiers killed. Thousands of the Sikh solidiers arrested.

The shocks of operation Bluestar were not limited to Amritsar and Punjab. As Sikh solidiers learned of this sacrilege of Sri Darbar Sahib, they anguise resulted in rebellions at several places. However, these rebelions were supressed, several Sikh solidiers killed and thousands of the Sikh solidiers arrested.

1984 Destruction of Sikh Reference Library by Indian Armed forces.

The army deliberately set fire to the Sikh Reference Library. Valuable archives and material of significant historical importance were destroyed in this fire. This was yet another extremely sad incident. The army claims that the library caught fire during crossfire. However, according to Government of India's White Paper, the library caught fire because the militants were firing homemade grenades after using a match. Please note, that the exact date on this event is on question. The fire was deliberately set by the army either on June 7 or 8.

==> BLUESTAR OPERATION is the code name for the June 1984 attack on Sri Harimandir Sahib, Amritsar, by the Indian Armed Forces. This attack was conducted under the pretext of flushing out terrorists but was designed for maximum damage. The attack took place on the day of Guru Arjan Dev Patshah's Shahadat Gurpurab observations. Further this operation was sanctioned under the direct orders of Indira Gandhi (then prime minister) and Zail Singh (then President). The Golden Temple Complex was attacked by the Indian Armed Forces using tanks, helicopters, and other heavy artillery, under the command of Major General Kuldip Singh Brar. Sri Akal Takhat was desecrated during this attack. Sri Darbar Sahib sustained at least 300 bullet holes. Thousands of innocent people were murdered in cold blood. Their fault? They were attending the Martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev Ji. The brave GurSikh soldiers in the Akal Takhat, numbering about 250, gave extremely tough resistance to the Indian army. However, their resistance was no match to the large number of tanks, helicopters, bombs, and other heavy artillery that destroyed the Akal Takhat. The whole Sikh nation rose as a whole to protest against this ghastly attack. Thousands of Sikhs were martyred in the holy precincts of Darbar Sahib. Many gave their lives in attempts to reach for Darbar Sahib's protection. All roads to Amritsar were blocked. Every Sikh approaching these blockades were asked to remove their kirpan and turban. Those refusing were immediately killed or arrested. Anyone with blue or saffron turbans were particularly targeted and killed. Those arrested were blind folded and their hands tied behind their backs with their own turbans. Arrested Sikhs were packed in groups of 60-70 in small rooms with liitle room for any mobility.

In protest, many respected Sikhs returned their Padam Bushan medals/honors bestowed upon them by the Indian government and sacrificed their high positions. Several Sikh Army personal deserted their posts in protest and marched straight to protect Darbar Sahib. However, Indira Ghandhi did receive retribution for her black deeds on Oct. 31st, that same year.

For detailed description of events surrounding this attack, readers are referred to the following:

Gurbhagat Singh, "Kommi Ajadi Wal - Panjab Tae Punjabi Sabhiyachar Da Bhawish," Vichar Prakashan, 1993
Major Singh, "Punjab Khuni Dahakae Di Ghatha," Vichar Prakashan, 1993
Naraen Singh, "Kau Kito Visahau?" Singh Brothers, Mai Sewa, Amritsar, ISBN 81-7205-003-8, 1986, 1990, 1992.
Naraen Singh, "Sikh Vira Nu Haluna," Singh Brothers, Mai Sewa, Amritsar, ISBN 81-7205-085-2, 1987, 1989, 1993.
Harbir Singh Bhanwer (Tribune reporter), "Diary de Panne," This book is in Punjabi. It is hard to come by. I found it to be most authoritative books on this event. Mr. Bhanwer was the person who provided quite a bit of basic information to Mark Tully and Mr. Jacob for their book "Amritsar: Indira Gandhi's Last Battle."
Dr. Mohinder Singh, "Blue Star Ghalughara," This book was published in 1991 (several years after Dairy de Panne), but is more detailed.
Jathedar Kirpal Singh, "Saka Neela Tara." This book is written by thim when he was the Jathedar of Akal Takhat. I have not read it, but I think it has extremely valuable information.

==> SIKH REFERENCE LIBRARY was fine until the evening of June 6, 1984. This has been verified by the in charge of the Library S. Devender Singh Duggal. The library was set ablaze on June 7, 84 in the early hours of the morning.

S. Karam Singh Historian had sown the seed of scientific reasearch in Sikhism. Later Bawa Budh Singh took the initiative and established the Sikh Historical Society in Lahore in 1930. It did not flourish after his death, but his legacy lived on. On February 10, 1945 fans of Punjabi history and literature gathered at Amritsar under the leadership of Princess Bamba, daughter of Maharaja Dalip Singh and laid a foundation stone of the Sikh History Society.

The formal meeting of this society was held on April 29, 1945 at Teja Singh Samundri Hall. In the beginning Prof. Teja Singh, Baba Prem Singh, Prof. Gurmukh Singh, Bawa Harkishan Singh and Prof. Ganda Singh were its active members. It operated quite independently, but received some financial support from SGPC. On April 10, 1946 it came under the control of the SGPC.

The main goal of this society was to present the history of the Sikh Gurus in its true form. The Sikh History Society decided to establish a Central Sikh Library on January 12, 1946. After being acquired by SGPC it received full fianancial support of the SGPC. On February 8, 1947 the Sikh Reference Library was established. It housed some rare source documents on Sikhism, the origin of Khalsa, hand-written manuscripts, Hukamnamas, Leases, Certificates, ancient pictures, etc.

The Sikh History Society published its catalog of books according to which the library had 2335 Punjabi books and hand-written manuscripts. Several of them were also in Assamese, Bengali, and Sindhi, etc. It also had 1047 English books.

According to a publication by Shamsher Singh Ashok (Historian and research scholar of SGPC) called "Sada Hath Likhat Sahit" (our hand-written literature) published in 1968, there were 383 volumes in this library which dealt with 980 different topics. In addition, there were many Hukamnamas by the Sikh Gurus, 2500 hand-written copies of Guru Granth Sahib, a Bir (of Guru Granth Sahib) of Bhai Hardas which bore a handwritten Mul Mantar page by Guru Teg Bahadar Ji. There were many illustrated Birs, Janamsakhis, and rare Sikh scriptures. Among many other it had "Kavendar Parkash by sant Nihal Singh; Ajit Sagar by Surjan Singh, Bhagat Sudhasar by Bhai Bidhi Das, Bhagat Premakar by poet Jassa Singh, Bansavalinama by Kesar Singh Chhibar and many more such historical books. The library had about 20,000 such books in June 1984 according to the Library officials. There were many copies of Guru Granth Sahib which were extremely valuable. There also was a manuscript which was prepared by Guru Gobind Singh five years after the martyrdom of Guru Teh Bahadar Ji. He himself added the Bani of the Ninth Guru in that manuscript at Damdama Sahib. The date of this copy of Guru Granth Sahib was 1739 Bikrami. In addition there was rare copy of Guru Granth Sahib that was obtained with great difficulty by S. Gian Singh, Chief Minsiter of Patiala from Damadama, Talwandi Sabo. This version of Guru Granth Sahib did not have Ragmala at the end.

All of this was reduced to ashes in Operation Blue Star!!!!

-Ref. "Blue Star Ghalughara," by Dr. Mohinder Singh Dhillon.



(Karnail Kaur, mother of 3 young children)
When people begged for water some soldiers told them to drink the mixture of blood and urine on the ground. Many of the young men in the group of innocent unarmed civilians were then shot by the soldiers.

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

(Giani Puran Singh)
I went to the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) on 5th June around 7:30 in the evening because I had to ensure that religious ceremonies were performed. The moment I stepped on to the parkarma I stumbled across a body. Bullets were flying and I had to take shelter behind each and every pillar to reach the Darshani Deorhi. Another body was lying there. I ran a few yards and reached the Akal Takht. Night prayers start at Harmandir Sahib five minutes after they start at the Akal Takht. I wanted to find out if the path (recitation) had started there. I had a glimpse of Bhindranwale. We did not speak to each other. Around 7:45 I came out of the Akal Takht and ran into the Darshani Deorhi. I ran towards Harmandir Sahib, unmindful of the bullets flying past my ears. I began night prayers. Soon a colleague of mine, Giani Mohan Singh, joined me. Seeing the intensity of the fire we decided to close all the doors, barring the front door. Soon we completed all religious rites. We then to! ok the Guru Granth Sahib to the top room to prevent any damage to the holy book. The Head Priest, Giani Sahib Singh, had given clear instructions that under no circumstances was the Guru Granth Sahib to be taken to the Akal Takht if the conditions were not right.
Looking through the window-pane from the first floor of the Harmandir Sahib, I saw a tank standing on the parkarma with its lights on. I thought for a moment that it was the fire brigade come to collect water from the srowar (holy pool) to put out the fire which was raging in almost every room. A few minutes later my belief was shattered when I saw the vehicle emitting fire instead of putting it out. By 10:30 or so around 13 tanks had collected on the parkarma. They had come after crushing the staircase from the eastern wing where Guru Ram Das Serai, the Langer and the Teja Singh Samundari Hall are situated. One after another the cannon fire lit the sky. When the first shell hit the bottom of the Darshani Deorhi, creating a hole in it, I saw the room with the historic chandni (canopy) presented by Maharaja Ranjit Singh catching fire. One after another the big bombs hit the Darshani Deorhi in quick succession, and what was once a lovely building was now on fire. The Toshakhan! a (Treasury) was also on fire. Occasionally a bullet would hit the Harmandir Sahib. We were 27 people inside, mostly ragis (singers) and sevadars (temple servants).
In the early hours of the morning of 6th June we took the holy book down and performed the religious rites that are performed every day, like maharaj da prakash karna (unfolding the holy book) and reciting hymns from the scriptures. The two side-doors were closed and the front and back doors were open. Bullets kept hitting the wall both inside and outside, ripping off the gold surface at various places. Soon after we finished reciting prayers one of our colleagues, Ragi Avtar Singh was hit. We pulled him into a corner. Another bullet came and hit the holy Granth Sahib. We have preserved this book.
In the meanwhile the pounding of the Akal Takht was continuing. There was no let-up in the fire in other places either. We were thirsty and desperate for water. We crawled to the holy pool to get water for ourselves and for the wounded colleague.
Around 5pm they announced on loudspeakers that those hiding in the Harmandir Sahib should come out and that they would not be shot dead. While myself and Giani Mohan Singh remained inside, others walked out with the arms above their heads.

Over 300 bullet holes were counted in the Golden Temple itself. With the lifting of the curfew innocent Sikhs thought that by coming out from hiding they would now be safe. Sadly this was not the case.
Kar Seva is the ceremonial cleaning of the sacred pool is normally undertaken every 50 years. A special Kar Seva was undertaken in 1985 to replace some of the damage. Tens of thousands of Sikhs participated and the sacred pool of nectar was completely drained and cleaned. More than 14years later, repairs still continue to the Golden Temple Complex. The Akal Takht has been entirely rebuilt. Most of the exterior work is now finished and interior work has begun. The marble of the parkarma is also being replaced in sections with new marble. Repair work on Harmandir Sahib still continues and a project is underway to reguild the temple dome and walls with new gold. The Ramgharia Bungas and Teja Singh Samundri Hall have been left, pockmarked with bullet holes as a reminder of the tragedy.
What was one of the darkest chapters of Sikh history, reminiscent of the persecution the Sikhs faced at the hands of the Mughals has acted like a lightening rod for all Sikhs. It should not be viewed as a cause of incitement of hatred, but rather as a jolting reminder to Sikhs that they cannot take the existence of their religion for granted. As caretakers of the Sikh religion, it is up to Sikhs to actively participate and make sure that the message of the Gurus and the Sikh religion survives and grows, overcoming any and all adversities.

 

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