On this day in 1984: Operation Blue Star at Golden Temple resulted in hundreds of deaths

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Today, 6 June marks the horrific memory of ‘Operation Blue Star’ which was the codename of a military operation by the Indian Security Forces to remove Damdami Taksal leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his followers from the sacred Golden Temple in Amritsar.

On this day in 1984, the Indian Army troops stormed their way into the 17th-century shrine’s compound to flush out more than 2,000 Sikh guerrillas. According to a BBC report, hundreds of civilians were killed, while 87 soldiers lost their lives. Some parts of the temple got damaged during the battle.

However, Sikh groups have denied the figure. According to them, thousands of pilgrims who were attending an important Sikh festival on the death anniversary of their fifth Sikh guru, Arjan Dev Ji, also died in the incident.

Many Sikhs also regarded the event as ‘an attack on their religion’. Operation Blue Star later led to the assassination of  then-Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was killed by her own Sikh bodyguards. In September 2012, Lt Gen Kuldeep Singh Brar who led the Indian Army’s assault, was also attacked by four Sikhs while he was on a holiday with his wife in London.

History of the incident:

In April 1983, A.S. Atwal, a Sikh police officer was brazenly shot outside the Golden Temple by Bhindranwale’s men. By the end of 1983, Bhindranwale shifted to the Akal Takht, the holiest part of the Golden Temple, and his followers had started piling up arms and ammunition inside the complex. These separatists had been demanding the creation of an independent homeland- Khalistan.

After knowing their plans, Indira Gandhi called on the Indian Army to run a mission to flush out the Sikh leader and his men from the sacred temple. Following this, army officers started to gather around the premises and asked the armed Sikhs to surrender on the afternoon of 5 June. When this failed, the army moved in to the temple complex.

On the morning of 6 June, the Indian Army started to move in. They first reached the Akal Takht where Bhindranwale was hiding. After a day of battle, Bhindranwale’s dead body, along with other gunmen, was found the next morning.

According to The Statesman, the army's operation inside the temple complex ended on 8 June. A clean-up operation called Operation Woodrose was launched across Punjab later.

 

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On this day in 1984: Operation Blue Star at Golden Temple resulted in hundreds of deaths
On this day in 1984: Operation Blue Star at Golden Temple resulted in hundreds of deaths
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