Today in Sikh History : 5th June
Operation Bluestar: Fierce battle in Golden Temple Complex, Sri Akal Takhat is attacked with heavy artillery and tanks.
And June 6 nights saw fierce battle between the Indian Army and GurSikhs inside the Golden Temple Complex. The onsluaght began around 7pm. 15,000 hand-picked and well-trained solidiers supported by tanks and armoured personnel carriers were involved in the assault. While another 35,000 soliders tried to put down any internal rebellion. It was rumored that Jarnail Singh Bhindranwalae has gone towards the Golden Temple. In response, the army sent their divers into the sacred tank, but they all were killed at the hands of the GurSikh freedom fighters. Subsequently, 60 commandos were sent to Sri Akal Takhat. 59 were killed in the first attack by the GurSikhs. Army’s disappointment led to the deployment of heavy artillery and tanks started firing upon Sri Akal Takhat. By 9:30 AM, the army took control of the Golden Temple complex. Jarnail Singh Bhindranwalae and Amrik Singh received martyrdom in this attack along with many of their companions.
Sikhs were killed with their hands tied behind their back, bombs were thrown on the Sikh pilgrims after their arrest, and Sikh women raped; children weren’t spared either. The Indian army went berserk, as they suffered a heavy toll. They killed every Sikh in their sight. Sikhs were hauled out of every room of darbar Sahib complex, brought to the corridors on the circumference of the temple and shot in cold blodd with their hands tied behind their backs.
==> 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, 1993Major Singh, “Punjab Khuni Dahakae Di Ghatha,” Vichar Prakashan, 1993Naraen 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.At 7:00 p.m. Operation Blue Star, the invasion of The Golden Temple begins with tanks of the 16th Cavalry Regiment of the Indian Army moving to enclose the Golden Temple complex. Troops are briefed not to use their guns against the Golden Temple itself or the Akal Takht. Artillery is used to blast off the tops of the Ramgarhia Bungas and the water tank. Scores of buildings in and around the temple complex are blazing. One artillery shell lands more than 5 km away in the crowded city. In the narrow alley behind the Akal Takht paramilitary commandos try to get into the temple. Some make it to the roof but are turned back due to the heavy gunfire. Meanwhile tanks move into the square in front of the northern entrance to the Golden Temple known as the clock tower entrance.At 10:30 pm commandos from the 1st Battalion, the Parachute Regiment try to run down the steps under the clock tower onto the marble parkarma around the sacred pool. They face heavy gunfire, suffering casualties and are forced to retreat. A second wave of commandos manage to neutralize the machine gun posts on either side of the steps and get down to the parkarma.The Akal Takht is heavily fortified with sandbags and brick gun emplacements in its windows and arches. From here and the surrounding buildings the Sikh fighters are able to fire at any commandos who make their way in front of the Gurdwara.Two companies of the 7th Garhwal Rifles enter the temple complex from the opposite side on the southern gate entrance and after a gun battle are able to establish a position on the roof of the Temple library. They are reinforced by two companies of the 15th Kumaons. Repeated unsuccessful attempts are made to storm the Akal Takht.
Baldev Singh Chahal passed away suddenly from a heart attack. He successfully campaigned to change the British law that exempted GurSikhs from wearing helmets on motorcycles.
==> BALDEV SINGH CHAHAL (BA, LLB (Lon), was the General Secretary of the Council of Khalistan, UK when he passed away suddenly on 5th June from a heart attack at 59 years of age. Sirdar Chahal arrived in the UK in 1964, a young graduate from the Punjab,and in 1973, came to public prominence when he launched a campaign to change the law to exempt turbaned Sikhs from wearing helmets on motorcycles. During this campaign, he received much support, from both the Sikh community and the host community. The media also provided his campaign with wide coverage to help obtain the suppport necessary to change the law in Parliament.
In 1975, Sirdar Chahal was imprisoned for 30 days in Pentonville prison for riding his motorcycle whilst wearing his turban, as a point of principle and in order to protest against the law as it stood, which denied the Sikhs their fundamental right to wear their turban as a strict culural and religious requirement of their faith.
In 1976, as a result of Sirdar Chahal’s continuous efforts, commitment and dedication, the campaign succeeded and the law was changed to exempt Sikhs from wearing a crash helmet.
Sirdar Chahal believed faithfully in the formation of the Sikh State of Khalistan and became active in the pursuit of Sikh independence from 1967 onwards. Sirdar Chahal’s foremost ambition in life was to see the creation of the State of Khalistan.
Sirdar Chahal was a London University graduate and was deeply involved in community affairs. He stood for the British Parliament twice in his career and was known to pursue his principles exhaustively. He was a well respected and well known man.