Operation Blue Star was the code name for the attack on the Akal Takhat and the Golden Temple complex during the period June 1 to 6, 1984. “Operation Bluestar” and “1984 Ghallughara”. Two different terms for the same episode – the Army action on the Golden Temple in June 1984. Two different meanings give to the same unprecedented event.
Here are the 15 Facts that you must know about this horrible event in Sikh History:
1. The Indian military Operation Blue Star was ordered by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. It was a deliberate and calculated massacre ensued, perpetrated by a government against its own citizens.
2. The motive of Operation Blue Star was Not just to eliminate Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale but to suppress the culture of a people, to attack their heart, to strike a blow at their spirit and self-confidence.
3. Not many people know that the Operation Blue Star was comprised of two operations: Operation Shop, which kept the curfew orders in check and Operation Metal, concerned to the Harmandir Sahib complex.
4. The Indian Army was led by Lt. Gen. Kuldip Singh Brar. Gen. Vaidya was assisted by Lt. Gen. K. Sunderjee as Vice-Chief. Operation Blue Star was eventually planned and controlled by them, while the Sikhs were led by Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and former Maj. Gen. Shabeg Singh.
5. It is little-known that S. K. Sinha, General Officer in Commanding- Indian Army, was sacked just before the Operation Blue Star as he had earlier advised the government against the Operation Blue Star.
6. It was a pre-planned operation against Sikhs and thereby on 25th May 1984, 100,000 Indian Army troops were mobilized and deployed throughout Punjab surrounding all important Gurdwaras including the Golden Temple complex.
7. On 1st June, Thousands of pilgrims had started to gather at the Golden Temple complex to celebrate the martyrdom anniversary of Guru Arjan Dev ji. The attack by the army was intentionally planned to coincide with a high holiday, the Gurparab commemorating the 17thcentury martyrdom of Guru Arjan, in order to create the optimum number of Sikh casualties and strike terror in the community.
8. On 3rd June, A total curfew is imposed with public communication and travel services being suspended. As many as 10,000 pilgrims were trapped inside the temple complex. Milk vendors from the villages who supplied milk to the city of Amritsar were shot dead for violating the curfew orders.
9. The Operation Blue Star was brutally carried out by Indian Army troops with tanks, heavy artillery, helicopters, armored vehicles, and chemical weapons.
10. Operation Woodrose was launched to thoroughly scan the Punjab countryside after the Operation Blue Star.
11. The Operation Blue Star causality figures by Kuldip Singh Brar were as: 83 deaths and 220 injuries in the Indian Army. 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.
12. Operation Bluestar has been listed in India’s Top 10 Political Disgraces by the country’s leading news journal, India Today.
13. If only the attack on Golden Temple was not enough, it is alleged that CBI seized historical artifacts in the Sikh Reference Library, which was burned later.
14. The Operation Blue Star was criticized for its no holds barred approach. The Operation could have been avoided using blockade tactics, which was later adopted by Rajiv Gandhi in Operation Black Thunder.
15. Operation Blue Star is often compared to ‘the great massacre’ perpetrated by the Afghan invader Ahmad Shah Durrani, 1762.