From our readers: Lessons from the army assault on the Golden Temple

Dear Editor,

I am very thankful to you for carrying the article entitled `On the 36th Anniversary of Operation Blue Star:  Lessons from the army assault on the Golden Temple’ to mark the atrocity that took place on the 6th of June, 2020, in the web-edition of MEL.

Among other things that the article points out are that it was indeed a terrorist act by the State aimed at humiliating the Sikh faith (and in fact of all Indian people, I might add), and that it is a bogus claim that it was an anti-terror operation. Furthermore, not only at that time, but even today State terrorism continues to be a bane of the people of India and harassment of religious minorities, and that victims are constantly blamed for the trials and tribulations that visit them.

It may be noted that by the 1980s there was an all-round crisis on the world scale, especially in the erstwhile USSR and also within India with the model of socialism that had been adopted since 1947 spending itself out.  Around the country, the people and the youth were questioning the system and fighting for their rights. It was in this situation that the crisis in Punjab became extreme. In order to face this crisis the State itself organized all kinds of fascist forces to attack the people and portrayed terrorism as the key problem facing the Indian people.  The spectre of “Sikh terrorism” itself was a creation of the Indian bourgeoisie, to discredit any claim for national rights that had sprung up at various places in the country.

By portraying the problem as Sikh terrorism versus the so-called unity and integrity of the country, the Government of Indira Gandhi took the extreme step of attacking the Golden Temple, the most holy shrine of Sikhism, itself a religion of nearly five centuries vintage, which arose on Indian soil in specific historical conditions, in order to establish the supremacy and might of the Indian State.  By doing so, they restored the idea that the State could do whatever it wants, and that it would deal with any revolt with an iron fist.  The fact that the Indian Army had trained for months and also received logistical support from the Government of Margaret Thatcher shows that it was a carefully pre-planned attack on all Indian people.  It also set the stage for the Indian bourgeoisie to embark on its new strategy, which was of liberalization and privatization.  It was to jettison the old State Capitalist model and to go for an out and out Thatcherite or Reaganite model of unbridled capitalism.

The fact that no one was brought to justice has also made possible the continuation of the strategy of ruling through violence, of the use of State terrorism to disorient and divert the masses into all kinds of peripheral issues, rather than to take up the task of fulfilling the needs of the people.  This continues to this day and is the favoured strategy of the ruling circles.  The people of India should keep a calm head and remind themselves on every occasion, including the present one, to consider the strategy of the bourgeoisie and not fall into their sectarian trap.  To this end, the article is a valuable contribution and I thank you for carrying it.

A. Narayan

Bangalore