1) February 17th to 24th, 1984 in Haryana – Indira Gandhi warned the Sikhs living in Punjab that they would be treated just like the Sikhs outside of Punjab. Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale Jee told her that Sikhs are not cowards, one Sikh can take on 20 Hindus. A case was registered against Sant Jee for these comments, but nothing was said to Indira, who openly and publicly threatened Sikhs with violence and told them to be ready to face the consequences of their actions. From February 17th to 24th, Sikhs were killed, dozens of Gurdwaras were burned. and hundreds of shops owned by Sikhs were looted and plundered by Hindus under the orders of Bhajan Lal, Chief Minister of Haryana. No action against the Hindus was taken.
2) Assassination Attempt on Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale – Longowal was growing more and more frustrated with Sant Jee’s growing power. After his failed attempt to have Sant Jee arrested, he tried forcing the Akal Takht to issue a Hukamnama against Sant Jee, however there was no way the Jathedar of Akal Takht could oblige such a request as Sant Jee was too popular among the masses. He then had his secretary employ a Surinder Singh Chhinda and his mistress Baljit Kaur to kill Sant Jee. These two failed to harm Sant Jee even when he was sitting right in front of them, they did not have the courage to shoot Sant Jee, but on April 14th they killed Bhai Surinder Singh Sodhi, one of Sant Jee’s bodyguards. Within 24 hours the murder of Bhai Surinder Singh Sodhi was avenged by the Khalsa, both assassins were killed. Longowal began to fear for his own life. He called Indira and told her she was free to do whatever she wanted to eliminate Sant Jee. However Indira had already started training troops to attack Darbar Sahib (Golden Temple).
3) Longowal’s Betrayal Continues – Longowal was under constant pressure to deal with Sant Jee he had resorted to hiring assassins to kill Sant Jee but:
ਜਾ ਤੂ ਮੇਰੈ ਵਲਿ ਹੈ ਤਾ ਕਿਆ ਮੁਹਛੰਦਾ ॥
When You are on my side, Lord, what do I need to worry about? (SSGS 1096).
He had forcibly removed Sant Jee from the Manji Sahib of the biggest stage in the Darbar Sahib complex, Sant Jee shifted to the roof of Guru Ram Das Langar building. This resulted in the number of people showing up at the Manji Sahib to dwindle, while the Sangat at Guru Ram Das Langar building grew exponentially. Longowal criticized Sant Jee for living in the Akal Takht building, however Sant Jee cited many instances in history where Sikhs had stayed inside the Akal Takht.
4) Operation Blue Star – In late May Indira Gandhi mobilized her troops and deployed them throughout Punjab. On June 1st they began firing weapons into the complex and at the Manji Singh without any warning. The bombardment continued for about 6 hours, and at least 11 people died due to the firing.
June 2nd was relatively quiet, without much gunfire. The Indian Army sealed the international border from Kashmir to Ganga Nagar. By that night the media and press were removed from Punjab and transportation into and out of Punjab was suspended. The water and supply into the Darbar Sahib complex was cut off by the army. Sangat (the congregation) began arriving in great numbers for the Shaheedi Divas (martyrdom commeoration day) of Guru Arjan Dev Jee on June 3rd. That night a 10PM curfew was declared and thousands of innocent men, women, and children were trapped inside the complex.
On June 4th the fighting resumed. The gunfire and bombardment lasted 7 hours. On June 5th at 7 PM Operation Blue Star, the invasion of the Darbar Sahib complex began. Tanks of the 16th Cavalry Regiment were moved in to enclose the complex. Artillery was used on the buildings, many buildings caught fire. Behind the Akal Takht in a narrow alley, paramilitary commandos attemted to get into the complex. Some of them made it onto the roof of the Akal Takht but were forced to retreat due to heavy gunfire from the Singhs.
Tanks moved into the square in front of Darbar Sahib known as the northern clock tower entrance. At 10:30 PM commandos from the 1st Battalion, the Parachute Regiment attempted to enter the Parkarma (promanade) through the northern entrance but were forced to retreat because of heavy gunfire returned. They suffered many casualties. A second wave of commandos managed to make it onto the parkarma. The Akat Takht was fortified with sandbags and brick guns, from where the Singhs were in a good position to shoot at anyone who attempted to storm the Akal Takht. Two companies of the 7th Garhwal Rifles entered the complex from the opposite side at the southern gate. Two companies of the 15th Kumaons joined them. There were multiple failed attempts to storm the Akal Takht, but the Singhs held their ground. The army suffered many more casualties.
On June 6th at midnight, tanks were used to break down the steps into the parkarma and an 8-wheeled Polish-built armored personal carrier drove towards the Akal Takht. It was destroyed by a Chinese-made rocket propelled grenade launcher. At least six more Vijayanta tanks entered the complex and crushed the marble of the parkarma in order to make their way towards the Akal Takht. The tanks began firing their large 105mm cannons equipped with high explosive squash head shells into the Akal Takht.
Over 80 shells were pumped into the Akal Takht, the results were devastating. The entire front side of the Takht was destroyed and fires started in many of the rooms ruining decorations that dated back to Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The golden dome of the Akal Takht was badly damaged. A 3.7 inch Howitzer gun was mounted on the roof of a building behind the Takht and fired a number of times at the dome.
A battalion of the Kumaon Regiment invaded the hostel complex where much of the Sangat was hiding. When the tanks began to fire on Akal Takht Sant Jee did Ardas in front of Guru Granth Sahib Jee and said, “Those who want to be martyrs come with me.” He along with about 40-50 Singhs ran out of the Akal Takht shooting, and were greeted with a storm of bullets. It is said that there were 72 bullets in Sant Jee’s body and the entire side of his face was missing. The Indian Army set fire to the Sikh Reference Library burning thousands of invaluable relics.
5) Indira Gandhi Assassination and Aftermath – On October 31, 1984, Operation Blue Star was avenged by Bhai Satwant Singh, Bhai Beant Singh, and Bhai Kehar Singh. At 9 AM on October 31st Indira walked from her house to her office. First Beant Singh fired three shots from his .38-calibre revolver into her chest. As she fell, Satwant Singh emptied all 30 rounds from his Sten sub machine gun into her chest and abdomen. They both shouted “Bole So Nihaal, Sat Sri Akaal” as they killed her. After shooting her dead, they placed their weapons on the ground and said “We have done what we needed to do, now you can do what you have to”. They were taken into a room where a struggle ensued,and allegedly Satwant Singh grabbed one of the guards handgun. In the struggle Beant Singh was shot and killed. Satwant Singh was injured. Satwant Singh along with Bhai Kehar Singh (Beant Singh’s uncle who conspired with the two) were tried in court and found guilty. They were executed on January 6, 1989.
Following the assassination of Indira Gandhi, death gangs of bloodthirsty Hindus supported by the Congress Party began to attack Sikhs in Delhi, raping, killing, and looting their stores, and Gurdwara Sahibs (sacred places of worship). The police looked on as innocent Sikhs were killed in the streets of Delhi. It is estimated 8,000 Sikhs were killed in India in just three days.
References: The Sikhs of Punjab By J.S. Grewal The Gallant Defender By A.R. Darshi sikhmuseum.com
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