The topic of “Operation Bluestar” is a very controversial issue because of where the Operation took place and all the events that occured. Operation Bluestar, was the code name given by the Indian government. It was an operation to evict Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his followers from the Golden Temple. The Golden Temple is one of the most sacred places of worship for the Sikh community. It is also one of the oldest Sikh temples around. The Golden Temple is known has the Harmandir Sahib, and is located in the city of Amritsar. Many questions arise to why something like this would happen in the first place.
Bhindranwale was a Sikh fundamentalist. He was a leader of the Damdami Taksaal. The Damdami Taksaal is a Sikh religious intuition and it was founded by the tenth Sikh Guru. Bhindranwale directed the campaign of terrorism in Punjab. He was associated with the movement of an independent Sikh state. The state would have been known has “Khalistan”, but there was very little support of it in Punjab by Sikhs. Bhindranwale had been a problem for a couple of years before Operation Bluestar. He and his followers had been murdering and intimidating moderate Sikhs and Hindus. They increased the pressure on Indira Gandhi to do something about it. By this point Bhindranwale and his close followers transformed the Akal Takht, his headquarters within the Golden Temple. He had changed it to an armory and a sanctuary for terrorists, and from here he conducted his campaign. This is when Operation Bluestar comes into play. Indra Gandhi has initiated the attack on May 31, 1984 on the Golden Temple.
The Golden Temple is located in the city of Amritsar and it is a sacred place of worship for the Sikh religion. Gandhi waited six months before finally ordering the army to get Bhindranwale and his followers out. Many say that Ghandi waited six month in order to build a positive public opinion about it, because it would have sparked a lot more negativity than it already did. Five days before the army entered the Golden Temple, 48 people were killed. The only way now that Gandhi could get Bhindranwale out was to use force, so she sent in the army in to the Golden Temple. The army was not prepared, because there were a lot more extremists than expected, they were also armed far better than intelligence reported. The extremists had responded to the army’s first initial call for surrender with machine guns.
The operation turned into a bloody 3-day siege. 576 people were killed, 83 of them being soldiers from official count, but unofficial counts suggest that estimate to be as high as 1,000. The Operation left many scars, approximately 1,000 army members were involved and a casualty rate of one-third of four officers. Bhindranwale was found dead in the basement of the Akal Takht, along with the leader of the Sikh Student Federation, and a sacked major general of Indian Army who had reportedly trained Sikh terrorists. Gandhi had also sent the Indian army into Punjab on June 2nd, 1984, to surround thirty-eight Sikh temples that had believed to been harboring Sikh militants under the command of Bhindranwale. Throughout the sate of Punjab, Akali leaders were placed under arrest.
The generals in charge of Operation Bluestar consisted of 4 Sikhs and 2 of another cast. Their involvement did little to reduce the sense of humiliation and the anger among nearly all the Sikhs. The Golden Temple also suffered damage, the Temple is also known as the Harmandir Sahib. Both the terrorists and the army had destroyed it. The terrorists used it for gun placements and army had attacked it. The Akhal Takht suffered the most serious damage and the precious Golden Temple Library was set on fire. Almost all Sikhs were outraged by all the destruction that was caused to the Temple.
The main question that everyone has is why did Bhindranwale choose to hide in the Golden Temple with his militants and weapons, when he could have went anywhere else. It is because he thought he would be safe their. He never thought that the Indian Government would attack him their because it is a sacred place of worship for all Sikhs. Also a government cannot allow armed militants to enter and attack a holy place. Bhindranwale thought of it in both ways, if they attack he would have an advantage as well. By having the government attacking a holy place many people would be outraged such as the Sikhs, the Sikhs and other people would then be against the Indian Government because of what they did. That is exactly what happened, the government attacked and that sparked the anger between all Sikhs, no matter what they thought of Bhindranwale and his battle for “independence” that he wanted. By hiding in the Golden Temple and having the army attack, it really helped Bhindranwale get his message out to the people.
The attacks made the news world wide, and he became famous and people started to know what he was fighting for. Another reason of him hiding there was that many civilians were in the Golden Temple and that made him believe that the Indian Government would not attack, because that would kill innocent people. But the Indian Government did just that. The government, while being successful in killing Bhindranwale, took the lives of many innocent men, women, and y children. Bhindranwale, while knowing that many civilians would be in the area that could be harassed and killed, he still chose to stay their. That might have been intentionally done, or he might not have known that. But it ended up being deadly for the civilians. Bhindranwale’s actions caused a lot of damage to the Golden Temple, by converting into a battlefield with a lot of bloodshed of innocent people. But this was all done because of his cause of creating Khalistan.
Many may inquire why the Indian Government finally decided to attack the Golden Temple a holy place of worship, after a six-month period of not doing anything. Many people believe that the Indian Government did wrong by attacking the Golden Temple, but you have to analyze both sides before coming to a proper conclusion. The Government was wrong at attacking at a holy place but they had to because Bhindranwale would not surrender himself. The army had asked him to surrender, however Bhindranwale refused to and in turn he started firing back at the army. The Army had no choice, so they fired back and this is how the innocent victims were killed along wit the Golden Temple being destroyed by all the gunfire. The Indian Government were not the only ones to destroy it, although many may think that Bhindranwale had his own machine guns at the temple and he was also a big contributor to the destruction of it.
Had he had surrendered then, the many people that were killed would not have been and the Golden Temple would not have been damaged in any way. The Sikhs would also have not been angered. One thin that makes the Indian Government seem really bad is the fact that they decided to attack the Golden Temple in the same week as the Sikh religious day known as the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev. Guru Arjan dev was the one who completed the Golden Temple. It was founded by the fourth Guru of the Sikhs, Guru Ramdas. The Indian Government knew that thousands of Sikhs would gather. This is one of the reasons of such a high casualties rate of Sikhs. A direct connection of it being the Indian army’s fault cannot be made because both Bhindranwale and Indian Government made mistakes. One side cannot be blamed for it all.
The people affected by the whole Bluestar Operation were the many of the Sikhs and Hindus as well. Many Sikhs and Hindus died because of the Operation taking place. The Sikhs died directly because it and the Hindus died because the Sikhs were angered. The Indian Police targeted many Sikhs after the Bluestar Operation, if they seemed to have any ties with Bhindranwale or believed in what he was standing for they would be killed or harassed. Many Sikhs became martyrs and held off the Indian army for as long as they possibly could. A total of about 250 men had kept the army out of the Golden Temple. The army consisted of over 250,000 troops. The army had entered the Temple after six days of the Sikhs stopping them from entering. They started killing innocent Sikhs who came to visit the Temple to celebrate the religious day. When the army came to know that only 250 stopping any army of troops, they were angered and humiliated.
The Sikhs in the temple were lined up and shot at point blank range. They ranged from the eldest of people to the adults and the children, no one was spared. What really hurt the Sikhs was that their sacred artifacts and library was burned. Also literature written by the Sikhs Gurus was also not found after the attacks. It has been said that the army had taken it, but they state that it had been destroyed during the attack. The city of Amritsar had been destroyed. Many visitors visiting from other countries around the world had been arrested or killed. Sikh shops were robed and houses had been burned. Hindus also had a role in the killing of the Sikhs. Groups of Hindus went to Sikh households and burned the Sikhs alive. They also raped the Sikh women and violated pregnant women.
The Sikhs that were being targeted were young males ranging from 4 to 40 years of age. The Indian Government had feared that the younger Sikh males would rebel and that by killing them would diminish the young Sikh community and the Sikh population would not flourish. They hoped that maybe the Sikh community would disappear and no longer be a problem for them. The main reason why many of the Sikhs were going through this was because Hindus wanted to destroy Sikhism. When Sikhs in other places found out about the attack that occurred in Amritsar, they rebelled.
The Sikhs killed many Hindus that were in high rank. The Indian Government then noticed this movement by the Sikhs and quickly acted on it. They began arresting Sikhs and killing them. Over 40,000 Sikhs were in jail with being charged. Before the Bluestar Operation Sikhs and Hindus were killing each other. When a Hindu would kill a Sikh, the police would do nothing about it, but when a Sikh killed a Hindu the Police would arrest and punish them. After all had happened to the Sikhs they still stuck together and rebelled to take over the Golden Temple that was theirs. They were successful in doing so.
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