The 6th of June this year marks the 38th anniversary of the assault on the Golden Temple in Amritsar by the Indian Army. Hundreds of innocent men, women and children lost their lives in this attack code-named Operation Bluestar.
Operation Bluestar began on 1 June, 1984. On the following day, Punjab was brought under Army rule. The borders of Punjab were sealed. At least seven divisions of the Army were deployed in Punjab. The Golden temple was put under siege. For six days, the armed forces kept firing at the Complex. Finally, on 6 June, the armed forces entered the complex in the name of liberating the Golden Temple from terrorists.
Why was the Army ordered to attack the Golden Temple? What was its real aim? To advance whose interest was it organised? It is important for people to understand this, so that we can take steps to prevent the recurrence of such tragedies at this time.
We must recall that in order to justify the unpardonable crime of ordering an army assault on a place of worship, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi declared that her government had “no choice”. The government claimed that it had information that “Sikh terrorists” gathered in the Golden Temple had accumulated sophisticated weapons and were conspiring to organize large scale massacre of people all over the country on the basis of religion. This official justification has been exposed by now to be nothing but lies. No proof has been offered in the past 38 years about any such conspiracy.
The truth is that it was not some armed group of people who were conspiring to organise communal massacres throughout the country. It was the ruling class and its state that conspired to unleash communally targeted violence to smash the unity of the people. In carrying out this dastardly conspiracy, it worked in close collusion with the Anglo-American imperialists. This is what subsequent developments have confirmed.
The decade of the 1980’s was a time of widespread discontent within the country. Workers’ struggles against capitalist super-exploitation were raging all over the country. Farmers of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Tamilnadu, and other states were demanding remunerative prices for their produce. Demands were being raised for fulfilling the national rights of the people of Punjab, Assam, Kashmir and other nations. This included struggles over river waters and other natural resources.
The old slogans of “building a socialist pattern of society”, and “garibi hatao” with which the bourgeoisie had tried to fool the workers and peasants in the past were no longer effective. The monopoly capitalist houses, which had enriched themselves since independence by pedaling such slogans, were facing opposition not only from workers and peasants, but also from various propertied interests.
It was a time when the USA under President Ronald Reagan and Britain under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher were openly pressuring all countries to allow the free flow of their capital and commodity exports, by lowering national barriers. They were demanding privatization and dismantling of public services in all countries. The Soviet Union was in deep crisis accentuated by its invasion of Afghanistan. The rivalry of the two superpowers over control and domination of India was sharpening.
The monopoly capitalist houses in our country were faced with the challenge of consolidating their control over the Indian Union and charting a new course in the changing conditions. They needed to weaken and put down the opposition to their rule, not only from workers and peasants, but from various propertied interests.
The Indian ruling class set into motion a diabolical plan to achieve this aim. They deliberately injected terrorism into the mass movement through their agents. The intelligence agencies of the state planned and executed cold blooded killings of political activists of various parties, as well as migrant workers in buses and market places, and blamed it on Sikhs. The people of a community which had been hailed as the defender of India, were now portrayed as enemies of the country. They were declared to be “terrorists”, “fundamentalists”, “separatists” etc. The Anglo-American imperialists and the Indian ruling class colluded with each other in this campaign. The intelligence agencies of the British government of Margaret Thatcher worked secretly with Indian intelligence agencies to plan the assault on the Golden Temple.
The ruling class falsely accused all those who condemned the attack on the Golden Temple as supporters of terrorism and enemies of national unity. Simultaneously, it prepared and organised the genocide of Sikhs in November 1984, using the assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi as a pretext.
People, irrespective of their religion, came out in defence of the victims of this state organised genocide. To put down the opposition of the people to state terrorism and state organised communal violence, the state legalised arbitrary arrests of so-called suspected terrorists for indefinite periods. It passed the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act (TADA).
The ruling class is afraid of the prospect of the people of India uniting, overcoming religious and other differences, against their common enemy for a common goal. To prevent this from happening, it has perfected the method of unleashing state terrorism including state organised communal violence. At different times, it targets different communities. It carries out vicious propaganda against the targeted community, and then deliberately organises attacks on the community. It then spreads the lie that the people of different religious beliefs are killing each other.
The struggle that is raging in India is between the exploiters, headed by the monopoly capitalists, and the exploited, headed by the working class. Operation Bluestar was aimed at destroying the unity of our people and smashing our struggle against exploitation and oppression.
The political parties of the ruling class propagate the wrong idea that this or that party is responsible for communal violence, not the monopoly capitalists and their state. It is wrong to think that only the Congress Party organised Operation Bluestar and the genocide of Sikhs of 1984. In the same manner, it is wrong to think that only BJP and RSS are responsible for communal violence and all forms of state terrorism at the present time. It is the agenda of the ruling class to divide the people along communal lines, to demonise this or that religion in order to justify unleashing state terrorism. Any party which is entrusted by the ruling class with executive power has to implement this agenda.
The threat to the unity of the Indian people does not come from any so-called fundamentalist belief of people of this or that religion. It does not come from people fighting for their national rights, whether it is in Punjab, Assam, Kashmir, Manipur, Tamilnadu or elsewhere. It does not come from workers and peasants fighting against exploitation and oppression. It comes from the ruling class and its state, and from imperialism. It comes from the fact that the Indian state is a state that defends capitalism, the remnants of feudalism, imperialism and colonialism. It comes from the fact that the Indian state is based on communal foundations.
As long as this state continues to exist, it will pose the greatest threat to the unity of our people and our united struggle against exploitation and injustice. This is what the experience of the 38 years since Operation Blue Star has affirmed and reaffirmed. The existing state is a bourgeois dictatorship, based on the principle of divide and rule. Our struggle must be waged with the perspective of replacing it with a new state that will guarantee prosperity for all, and protect human rights and democratic rights of all, without exception.