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Archive for category SIKH GENOCIDE

Holy well: ‘Water held sacred by Sikhs to be exported’

ETPB chairman says arrangements are being made to print Guru Garanth Sahib in the country. PHOTO: REUTERS

ETPB chairman says arrangements are being made to print Guru Granth Sahib in the country. PHOTO: REUTERS

LAHORE: Preparations were underway to start export of Amrit Jal – water from a well in Nankana Sahib held sacred by the Sikh community, Evacuee Trust Property Board (ETPB) Chairman Siddiqul Farooq told the APP on Sunday.

He said the ETPB was also making arrangements for printing Guru Granth Sahib, the holy scripture of the community, in the country.

Farooq said the first initiative he had taken as the board chairman was to restore the Be Be Nanki well in Nankana Sahib. He said the board would soon start bottling and exporting water from the holy well.

 

Farooq said the decision to print the Guru Granth Sahib had been taken to facilitate Sikh yatrees visiting the country from abroad. He said they would no longer need to bring the book with them.

He said yatrees had to pass various checkpoints set up for security reasons at their arrival in the country and during travel inside the country. “There is a possibility that the holy book may get desecrated during the journey,” he said. He said that with the printing and availability of the book at gurdwaras and other holy sites the community would not need to carry it during the journey. Assistance would be sought from the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), India, and the Delhi Gurdwara Management Committee for printing, he said.

The ETPB chairman said the number of pilgrims from foreign countries on Sikh and Hindu religious occasions was increasing every year. The ETPB had decided to register travel agents to facilitate these visitors.

Farooq said the ETPB had undertaken several initiatives to promote infrastructure at religious sites of minority communities. He said construction of a residential complex and installation of a water treatment plant was underway at the Katas Raj temple. He said work on the two projects would be completed before the arrival of Hindu pilgrims in November.

Thousands of Sikhs converge at Panja Sahib

Farooq said renovation work had been started at all gurdwaras and mandirs in the country. He said the board was installing a turbine at Gurdwara Punja Sahib, Hassan Abdal, to generate electricity from water.

He said these guards would receive training from police officers.

The ETPB chairman said the board was considering a proposal to construct a multi-storey plaza on a property it owned in a prime commercial zone in Lahore.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 12th, 2016.

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ENCOURAGING FEEDBACK ON SIKH FEDERATION (UK) ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING by Sardar Gurjeet Singh, National Press Secretary, Sikh Federation (UK)

ENCOURAGING FEEDBACK ON SIKH FEDERATION (UK) ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING

London – 20 March 2017

In the third week of September every year, the Sikh Federation (UK) holds its’ annual National Sikh Convention.  The origins of the Convention can be traced back to 1984 and for many years the convention has been continuously held at Guru Nanak Gurdwara, Sedgley Street in Wolverhampton.
The Convention has organised in the same month that mainstream political parties hold their annual party conferences.  As the Sikh Federation (UK) is popularly described as the first and only Sikh political party in the UK this Convention is deemed by many politicians from across the political spectrum as the annual party conference for British Sikhs.
The September Convention where the mainstream media has often reported over 10,000 Sikhs take part provides an opportunity to look back at achievements and progress during the year and set out the future strategy of the organization.  Politicians and representatives of other Sikh organizations in the UK and other parts of the globe often speak at the Convention.     
Yesterday the Sikh Federation (UK) held its first ever Annual General Meeting (AGM) with around 150 delegates and supporters from 8 of the 12 regions in the UK and around 20 towns and cities.  It was timed to coincide with the first anniversary of the Sikh Federation (UK) successful legal challenge to have the ban lifted on the International Sikh Youth Federation (ISYF) as well as the Sikh New Year. 
Judging by the response and feedback to the four hour AGM it is set to become a permanent feature in the calendar on the third week of March each year for Sikh Federation (UK) branches, members, and supporters.   Those that sent apologies or were unable to be present will no doubt want to attend next year when they hear about the AGM from other delegates or watch highlights of the AGM on KTV (Sky 858).  
The AGM provided as an opportunity to share with delegates in confidence the direction of travel and plans for the organization in a number of areas, listen to messages from those in Punjab with political links with the Sikh Federation (UK) and have an interactive question and answer session.
Bhai Amrik Singh, Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:
“We have had fantastic feedback about our first AGM.  This will be a permanent event in our calendar in the third week of March each year.  As word gets out we are convinced we will have more delegates next year and Sikhs from more regions, towns and cities across the UK will want to take part.  Sharing information not in the public domain with our members and interaction through the question and answer session will be developed to make the AGM even more rewarding.”
Delegates were told forcing the UK Government through legal action to lift the ban on the ISYF in the UK almost a year to the day and lift all restrictions on the ISYF in Europe in April 2016 given the pressure from the Indian authorities had been a huge achievement by the Sikh Federation (UK).  Since this all happen after the infamous Modi visit to the UK in November 2015 the Indian authorities regarded this as a major victory for the Sikh independence movement. 
Those present were told the leading role of the Sikh Federation (UK) in pushing for an independent inquiry regarding UK involvement in the events in 1984 and what followed with the help of a researcher and KRW Law has substantially raised the political stakes and worldwide profile of Sikh Federation (UK) activities.    Further legal action and publicity are inevitable and the current UK Government are increasingly realizing this issue will simply not go away.
Progress was provided on other issues in the Sikh Manifesto, such as a separate ethnic tick box in the Census 2021 and related matters, such as the Sikh Federation (UK) challenge of the hate crime action plan where we have established Sikhs were deliberately snubbed by specific references to Sikhs being taken out by Number 10.  We are now also aware the Prime Minister’s annual race audit she announced in August 2016 is expected to highlight a major data gap in central government as they are not collecting any information on Sikhs, although Sikhs are legally recognized as a race.
A number of Sikh Network representatives were present to talk about the impact of the findings of the UK Sikh Survey on different parts of government.   Other issues in the Sikh Manifesto such as a site in central London for a permanent monument to recognize Sikh sacrifices in the First World War and a Code of Practice on the 5Ks and dastar were touched upon. 
Delegates were told about the work of the Your Seva charity and the exciting opportunities offered by KTV (Sky 858) in providing an opportunity to regularly raise awareness on issues and the work of the Sikh Federation (UK), Sikh Network and Your Seva.
Video messages were recorded and provided specifically for the Sikh Federation (UK) AGM from contacts in Punjab.  These included Harpal Singh Cheema, President of the Dal Khalsa and its former President Harcharanjit Singh Dhami.  Sikh youth leader Bhai Mandhir Singh spoke specifically about the Khalistan situation and the leading role that can be played by Sikhs in the diaspora.  Advocate Jaspal Singh Manjhpur gave an overview of the situation of all Sikh political prisoners. He has been co-ordinating the legal campaign and made clear that virtually all temporary releases to date have been secured through unrelenting legal action.  Clarification was given that the various assurances made by Modi almost 18 months ago after the infamous meeting with Sikhs in the UK in November 2015 have proved to be empty promises. 
Bhai Harjinder Singh the son of former Akal Takht Jathedar and Sikh revolutionary leader Shaheed Baba Gurbachan Singh Manochahal, the founder of the Bhindranwale Tigers Force of Khalistan made a special appearance and was presented with a siropa and seva by the Sikh Federation (UK) leadership.
 
Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)
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International community must recognise and respond to increasing threat and challenge of extreme Hindu nationalism in India by Gurjeet Singh National Press Secretary Sikh Federation (UK)

 

 

 

 

 

 

International community must recognize and respond to increasing threat and challenge of extreme Hindu nationalism in India

 

Right wing Indian politicians, cricketers, and Bollywood stars join in abuse and fail to distance themselves from rape and death threats against dead army man’s daughter, 21-year old Gurmehar Kaur for her stance on peace and free speech
London – 1 March 2017
The Sikh Federation (UK) following the abuse and threats targeting 21-year old Gurmehar Kaur has written to the five permanent members of the United Nations and appealed to the international community to recognize the increasing threat and challenge of Hindutva.
Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:
“The international community and governments across the globe need to come together and recognize and stand up to the rising threat of extreme Hindu nationalism being openly promoted by the ruling establishment in India.”
“Indian politicians and officials appear to be able to intimidate and silence many individual governments with its threats, often linked to trade with India.  Only countries like the United States and China are strong enough and prepared to openly criticize those running India, but it requires a collective effort to tackle the rising threat.” 
“If the international community does not respond and extreme Hindu nationalists are allowed to literally get away with murdering minorities and those that stand up to them while they simply watch, this will become an international problem that could easily get out of control.”
“The BJP ruling party has now been allowed in the last three years to get away with supporting extreme actions by right-wing Hindu groups.  Today a 21-year old Sikh student is not only being intimidated and ridiculed but openly threatened with rape and murder.  Those hounding her are being protected and encouraged by those with power and influence.  She is standing up for peace and free speech while governments are choosing to coward away and be silent.”
Gurmehar Kaur, an English literature student, and an ambassador for Postcards for Peace, a charitable organization that helps eliminate any form of discrimination has reportedly left Delhi, after receiving threats of rape and murder.  She lost her father, Captain Mandeep Singh in an attack in 1999 when she was just two years old.
On Friday, she mounted a rather simple protest against the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad’s (ABVP) violence at Ramjas College last week. ABVP is the students’ wing of the Rashtriya Swamayamsevak Sangh (RSS).  She posted a picture of herself on a social media site holding up a placard that read: “I am a student of Delhi University. I am not afraid of the ABVP. I am not alone. Every student of India is with me.”  Her post incited extreme reactions from the ruling establishment.
Rape and death threats have been made against her, but shockingly she has been ridiculed and trolled by celebrities like cricketer Virender Sehwag and mocked by Bollywood actor Randeep Hooda. One of the RSS’s top intellectuals, Rakesh Sinha, ludicrously said that Gurmehar Kaur was “trolling” her dead father. The Union government rather than engaging with the serious issue being raised has resorted to bullying Gurmehar Kaur, with Minister Kiren Rijuju asking, “Who’s polluting this young girl’s mind?” BJP MP Pratap Simha outrageously compared Gurmehar Kaur to India’s most-wanted terrorist, Dawood Ibrahim.
The rise of Hindutva that started in the 1980s is not restricted to the ruling party and unleashed powerful forces.  Today, even cricketers, wrestlers, actors and social media users propagate its basic ideas.  Foreign governments will be forced to respond as the Modi government in a more significant and worrying move has reached out to persons of Indian origin in foreign lands, making them a part of his political rhetoric.  Every time Modi holds a gala in New York or London with foreign politicians sucking up to him and gets American or British Hindus to support him. This overseas support is seen as approval for his Hindutva policies.
Gurjeet Singh
National Press Secretary
Sikh Federation (UK)
 

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Operation Blue Star – The Sikh Holocaust

 

Golden Temple

Operation Blue Star

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first task was the destruction of Major-General Shahbeg Singh’s outer defenses. Much of this had been completed in the preliminary firing when Major-General Brar had hoped to frighten Bhindrenwale into surrendering. These defences included the seventeen houses which the police had allowed Bhindanwale’s followers to occupy in the alleys surrounding the Golden Temple. Some of them were as far as 800 yards away from the complex. These outposts were all in wireless contact with Shahbeg Singh’s command post in the Akal Takht. The Temple view hotel outside the Temple complex had also been occupied. Next to it was Brahmbuta Akhara, a large bulding housing the headquarters of a Sikh sect. Then there were three main towers which had been fortified to make positions from which Bhindranwale’s men could fire into the Golden Temple complex. Because they stood well above the rest of the building, the towers were also excellent observation posts for watc hing the movement of troops in the narrow alleys surrounding the Temple. The tops of these towers were blasted off the by artillery fire. The use of artillery in the dense city of Amritsar prooved very costly, many innocent people living in close proximity of Golden Temple lost their lives. Then the commando operation was planned.

Defenders of Akal Takht

It was between 10 and 10:30 PM when commandos from 1st Battalion, the parachute regiment, wearing black denims were ordered to run down the steps under the clock tower on to the parikarma, or pavement, turn right and move as quickly as they could round the edge of the sacred tank to the Akal Takht. But as the paratroopers entered the main gateway to the Temple they were mown down. Most of the casualties were caused by Sikhs with light machine-guns who were hiding on either side of the steps leading down to the parikarma. The few commandos who did get down the steps were driven back by a barrage of fire from the building on the south side of the sacred pool. In the control room, in a house on the opposite side of the clock-tower, Major-general Brar was waiting anxiously with his two supporting officers to hear that the commandos had established positions inside the complex. When no report came through he was heard over the command network saying, “You bastards, why don’t you go in.”

The few commandos who survived regrouped in the square outside the Temple, and reported back to Major-General Brar. He reinforced them and ordered them to make another attempt to go in. This battalion had Sikh soldiers in its rank. The second commando attack managed to neutralise the machine-gun posts on either side of the steps and get down on to the parikarma. They were followed by the Guards who came under withering fire and were not able to make any progress radioed for permission to fire back at the buildings on the other side of the tank. That would have meant that the Golden Temple itself, which is in the middle of the tank, would have been in the line of fire. Brar refused permission. But then he started to get messages from the commander of Guards reporting heavy casualties. Golden Temple ComplexThey had suffered almost 20 percent casualties without managing to turn the corner of parikarma to the western sides. Sikhs would also suddenly appear from man-holes in the parikarma the Guards were fighting from, lef off a burst of machine-gun fire or throw lethal grenades, and disappear into the passages which run under the Temple. These machine-gunners had been taught to fire at knee-level because Major-General Shahbeg Singh expected the army to crawl towards its objective, But the Guards and commandos were not crawling, and so many of them received severe leg injuries.

Brar, then decided on a change of plan. He ordered to occupy the roof tops of the clock towers as well as all the rooms along the parikarma. Army commandos rushed in from main clock tower entrance, their objective being to neutralize fire from Akal Takht in North. They ran into trouble as soon as they went down the steps, automatic gunfire hit them from both sides of stairs and more then 40 commandos lost their lives in less then five minutes, amazingly only two Bhindrenwale supporters were firing at them. Next batch of commandos were able to run down the stairs and turn right but here again, automatic gun fire from Akal Takht as well as old towers and water tank hit them. By this time Soldiers from Bihar regiment had cordoned off the whole Golden Temple complex, but not very effectively. Madras regiment was trying to enter through the Eastern gate and had reached many difficulties. While Kumaonis from North close to Langar were trying desperately without much success. So General Brar requested tanks to be brought in to Golden Temple, but he was give armored personnel carrier. Which was blown up by rocket launcher as soon as it had crossed Baba Deep Singh’s Samadh.

Brar again requested tanks and was allowed this time. According to Giani ji of Golden Temple, who was present at Golden Temple itself during all this time, as many as 13 tanks were brought into parikarmaand lined up on the eastern side, expensive marble was crushed and whole eastern parikarma broke. Brar ordered to blew up the Akal Takht and thus the highest seat of Sikh authority was brought down by Indian army. Bhai Shabeg Singh jiBhaiji at basement of Akal Takht tells us that Bhindrenwale came to Guru Granth Sahib and after Ardas said “Those who want to be martyrs come with me” then he dashed outside in front of Akal Takht and was greeted with bullets, like about 40-50 of his group. Many were able to reach Sarovar . Next morning, Indian army was responsible for gutting down historical Sikh relic, some soldiers set fire to Sikh library and many historical manuscripts were lost as well as treasury Toshakhana was gutted. There were more then 140 bullets marks on Golden Temple itself, even though Indian army insisted that not a single bullet was fired towards Golden Temple.

Sikh pilgrims who were held up by Army in buildings in and around Guru Ram Das Sarai, Teja Singh Samundri Hall, etc. These innocent bystanders were not given any food or water for 4 days. Army soldiers asked them to drink water mixed with urine from small puddles on ground. One army soldier went berserk and fired on these innocent pilgrims killing 70. About 40 or so bodies of Sikh men with their hand tied up behind in execution style, were found in several rooms. A Journalist saw a whole truck filled with bodies of women and children. There is more then enough evidence that Army Soldiers were served alcohol as well as cigarettes inside Golden Temple complex.

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PTT SERIES ON OUR SIKH BROS: SIKH GENOCIDE IN INDIA BY MANWINDER SINGH GIASPUR & REMEMBERING THE MASSACRE OF SIKHS IN JUNE OF 1984 BY SIMRAN JEET SINGH

PTT SERIES ON OUR SIKH BROS: SIKH GENOCIDE IN INDIA BY MANWINDER SINGH GIASPUR & REMEMBERING THE MASSACRE OF SIKHS IN JUNE OF 1984 BY SIMRAN JEET SINGH

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

Simran Jeet Singh Headshot

 

 
 

 

 

 

REMEMBERING THE MASSACRE OF SIKHS IN JUNE OF 1984

 

 
 
 
 
DURING THE FIRST WEEK OF JUNE, SIKHS AROUND THE WORLD COMMEMORATE A RECENT HISTORICAL EVENT: OPERATION BLUESTAR OF 1984, A GOVERNMENT-SANCTIONED MILITARY OPERATION THAT RESULTED IN COUNTLESS CASUALTIES AND THE DESTRUCTION OF ONE OF THE MOST HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT GURDUARAS, THE DARBAR SAHIB OF AMRITSAR (I.E., THE GOLDEN TEMPLE).
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Sikhs constitute one of the many persecuted minority communities in India, and their commitment to standing for justice has made them a regular target of oppression for centuries.
Approximately one decade prior to the massacre of 1984, Sikh leaders of Punjab drafted the Anandpur Sahib Resolution, a document that called for a social revolution within India, demanding rights for oppressed minorities such as women, lower castes and impoverished communities. The resolution also demanded increased state autonomy, guarantees of constitutional rights and equality of citizens regardless of caste, religion or gender.
In the face of government resistance, the Sikhs raised the banner of the Dharam Yudh Morcha, threatening to protest peacefully until the federal government acknowledged the Anandpur Sahib Resolution and implemented change. They made their voices heard through campaigns that blocked off streets (rasta roko), railways (rail roko), canals (nahar roko) and work (kam roko). These protests threatened the economic and social stability of the country, and this played a major role in the Government’s decision to attack the core of the Sikh community. The government employed popular media to project Sikhs as being anti-national and secessionist, and used this as a pretense for the military operation in the theo-political capital of the Sikh tradition.
On June 1, 1984, the Indian Government launched Operation Bluestar, a full-scale assault on dozens of gurduaras around the Sikh homeland of Punjab. While coordinating attacks on these centers for worship and learning, the Government focused its attention on the most venerated and historically significant of gurduaras — the Darbar Sahib.
The invasion of the Indian Army was by no means a spontaneous reaction to the threat posed by protesting Punjabis; rather, the Indian Military prepared and simulated this operation for several months prior to its execution. The army’s assault included the deployment of tear gas, army tanks and 70,000 troops. Observers have widely speculated that the timing of the attack was also carefully selected to coincide with the first few days of June, a moment during which Sikhs around the globe commemorate the martyrdom of their fifth Guru, Guru Arjan. Guru Arjan is celebrated for many reasons, including his role as the architect of Darbar Sahib, and Sikhs flock to this site in Amritsar every June to honor his contributions.
As in years past, on June 1, 1984, Sikhs were filling the complex to pay their respects when Indian military forces arrived and placed them under siege. A deliberate and calculated massacre ensued, perpetrated by a government against its own citizens. Anthropologist Joyce Pettigrew explains the purpose of the invasion: “The Army went into Darbar Sahib not to eliminate a political figure or a political movement but to suppress the culture of a people, to attack their heart, to strike a blow at their spirit and self-confidence.”
S.M. Sikri, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India, elaborates by describing Operation Bluestar as a “massive, deliberate and planned onslaught to the life, property and honor of a comparatively small, but easily identifiable minority community.”
Eyewitnesses tell a story different than that of the Indian government published in the “White Paper on the Punjab Agitation.” Devinder Singh Duggal was responsible for overseeing the Sikh Reference Library and recalled that the Army fired on the complex for several hours starting around 12:30 p.m. on June 1. The next day passed relatively peacefully as the military lifted the curfew and allowed large numbers of Sikhs to enter the complex. After filtering innocent civilians into the complex, the Army again sealed the exits to Darbar Sahib, cordoned off the borders of Amritsar, and imposed a strict curfew.
At approximately 4 a.m. on June 4, the Army assault re-commenced and continued unabated for more than 48 hours. Survivors vividly recall seeing piles of dead women and children on the ground as an armored carrier and eight tanks entered the complex in the early morning of June 6. Army officers announced from inside the tanks: “Please come out. God’s blessings are with you. We will help you reach home absolutely safe and sound.” Survivors testify that those who came out in the open were shot down at sight.
Brahma Challeney of the Associated Press of America reported that a large number of innocent Sikhs were brutally murdered — some officers used the Sikhs’ turbans to tie their hands behind their backs, while other officers made rounds among the captives and executed each at point-blank range. The Indian Government has denied these statements, but eyewitness testimonies and post-mortem reports have invariably corroborated these accounts.
In order to conceal the extent of its assaults and grave human rights violations, the Indian government broadened its exile of all media outlets by barring access to organizations offering humanitarian aid. Social interest groups such as the Red Cross, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the United Nations Human Rights Reporters were denied entry into Punjab, and as a result were extremely limited in their abilities to evaluate and respond to the atrocities of Operation Bluestar.
The number of civilians murdered in Operation Bluestar remains unknown. While the most conservative estimates place the number of casualties around 675, independent and reputable sources estimate a minimum of 10,000 casualties. Joyce Pettigrew reports that a senior police officer in Punjab assessed the number of casualties as closer to 20,000.
The Committee on Human Rights openly criticized the unjust attack against innocent Sikhs, particularly when there were no allegations against them:
The most disturbing thing about the entire operation was that a whole mass of men, women, and children were ordered to be killed merely on the suspicion that some terrorists were operating from the Golden Temple [i.e., Darbar Sahib] and other Gurdwaras. Thus such a major military attack resulting in the massacre of largely innocent people was undertaken on mere suspicion which had been created by the statements of police and the government themselves.
The violation of human rights in 1984 is not just a Sikh issue — it is an issue of minority rights in India. Countless minority groups have been targeted and oppressed in the 65 years since the independence of India, and the continued denial of justice perpetuates the marginalization of these groups. Until there is accountability for these human rights violations, minority communities will continue to feel isolated and aliened. And as long as this continues, Sikhs across the globe will continue to stand up against these injustices.
This essay has been adapted from the latest edition of Gunisha Kaur’s book on human rights violations in Punjab, ‘Lost in History: 1984 Reconstructed.’
MORE: Human Rights Violations Sikhism India Sikhism Human Rights Golden Temple Sikh Massacre Operation Bluestar Anti Sikh Violence Sikhs in India

Posted: Updated:
 
 
 

During the first week of June, Sikhs around the world commemorate a recent historical event: Operation Bluestar of 1984, a government-sanctioned military operation that resulted in countless casualties and the destruction of one of the most historically significant gurduaras, the Darbar Sahib of Amritsar (i.e., The Golden Temple).
Sikhs constitute one of the many persecuted minority communities in India, and their commitment to standing for justice has made them a regular target of oppression for centuries.
Approximately one decade prior to the massacre of 1984, Sikh leaders of Punjab drafted the Anandpur Sahib Resolution, a document that called for a social revolution within India, demanding rights for oppressed minorities such as women, lower castes and impoverished communities. The resolution also demanded increased state autonomy, guarantees of constitutional rights and equality of citizens regardless of caste, religion or gender.
In the face of government resistance, the Sikhs raised the banner of the Dharam Yudh Morcha, threatening to protest peacefully until the federal government acknowledged the Anandpur Sahib Resolution and implemented change. They made their voices heard through campaigns that blocked off streets (rasta roko), railways (rail roko), canals (nahar roko) and work (kam roko). These protests threatened the economic and social stability of the country, and this played a major role in the Government’s decision to attack the core of the Sikh community. The government employed popular media to project Sikhs as being anti-national and secessionist, and used this as a pretense for the military operation in the theo-political capital of the Sikh tradition.
On June 1, 1984, the Indian Government launched Operation Bluestar, a full-scale assault on dozens of gurduaras around the Sikh homeland of Punjab. While coordinating attacks on these centers for worship and learning, the Government focused its attention on the most venerated and historically significant of gurduaras — the Darbar Sahib.
The invasion of the Indian Army was by no means a spontaneous reaction to the threat posed by protesting Punjabis; rather, the Indian Military prepared and simulated this operation for several months prior to its execution. The army’s assault included the deployment of tear gas, army tanks and 70,000 troops. Observers have widely speculated that the timing of the attack was also carefully selected to coincide with the first few days of June, a moment during which Sikhs around the globe commemorate the martyrdom of their fifth Guru, Guru Arjan. Guru Arjan is celebrated for many reasons, including his role as the architect of Darbar Sahib, and Sikhs flock to this site in Amritsar every June to honor his contributions.
As in years past, on June 1, 1984, Sikhs were filling the complex to pay their respects when Indian military forces arrived and placed them under siege. A deliberate and calculated massacre ensued, perpetrated by a government against its own citizens. Anthropologist Joyce Pettigrew explains the purpose of the invasion: “The Army went into Darbar Sahib not to eliminate a political figure or a political movement but to suppress the culture of a people, to attack their heart, to strike a blow at their spirit and self-confidence.”
S.M. Sikri, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India, elaborates by describing Operation Bluestar as a “massive, deliberate and planned onslaught to the life, property and honor of a comparatively small, but easily identifiable minority community.”
Eyewitnesses tell a story different than that of the Indian government published in the “White Paper on the Punjab Agitation.” Devinder Singh Duggal was responsible for overseeing the Sikh Reference Library and recalled that the Army fired on the complex for several hours starting around 12:30 p.m. on June 1. The next day passed relatively peacefully as the military lifted the curfew and allowed large numbers of Sikhs to enter the complex. After filtering innocent civilians into the complex, the Army again sealed the exits to Darbar Sahib, cordoned off the borders of Amritsar, and imposed a strict curfew.
At approximately 4 a.m. on June 4, the Army assault re-commenced and continued unabated for more than 48 hours. Survivors vividly recall seeing piles of dead women and children on the ground as an armored carrier and eight tanks entered the complex in the early morning of June 6. Army officers announced from inside the tanks: “Please come out. God’s blessings are with you. We will help you reach home absolutely safe and sound.” Survivors testify that those who came out in the open were shot down at sight.
Brahma Challeney of the Associated Press of America reported that a large number of innocent Sikhs were brutally murdered — some officers used the Sikhs’ turbans to tie their hands behind their backs, while other officers made rounds among the captives and executed each at point-blank range. The Indian Government has denied these statements, but eyewitness testimonies and post-mortem reports have invariably corroborated these accounts.
In order to conceal the extent of its assaults and grave human rights violations, the Indian government broadened its exile of all media outlets by barring access to organizations offering humanitarian aid. Social interest groups such as the Red Cross, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and the United Nations Human Rights Reporters were denied entry into Punjab, and as a result were extremely limited in their abilities to evaluate and respond to the atrocities of Operation Bluestar.
The number of civilians murdered in Operation Bluestar remains unknown. While the most conservative estimates place the number of casualties around 675, independent and reputable sources estimate a minimum of 10,000 casualties. Joyce Pettigrew reports that a senior police officer in Punjab assessed the number of casualties as closer to 20,000.
The Committee on Human Rights openly criticized the unjust attack against innocent Sikhs, particularly when there were no allegations against them:

The most disturbing thing about the entire operation was that a whole mass of men, women, and children were ordered to be killed merely on the suspicion that some terrorists were operating from the Golden Temple [i.e., Darbar Sahib] and other Gurdwaras. Thus such a major military attack resulting in the massacre of largely innocent people was undertaken on mere suspicion which had been created by the statements of police and the government themselves.

 
 

The violation of human rights in 1984 is not just a Sikh issue — it is an issue of minority rights in India. Countless minority groups have been targeted and oppressed in the 65 years since the independence of India, and the continued denial of justice perpetuates the marginalization of these groups. Until there is accountability for these human rights violations, minority communities will continue to feel isolated and aliened. And as long as this continues, Sikhs across the globe will continue to stand up against these injustices.
This essay has been adapted from the latest edition of Gunisha Kaur’s book on human rights violations in Punjab, ‘Lost in History: 1984 Reconstructed.’

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