We must never forget or forgive this gravest crime against our people!
6th June 2014 will mark the 30th anniversary of one of the most heinous acts of the Indian state.
On this day in 1984, the Indian Army launched the "final assault" on the Golden Temple in Amritsar, in the name of “flushing out Sikh terrorists”. The Army used tanks, armoured personal carriers, helicopters, commando forces, and tens of thousands of crack troops drawn from different divisions for this "operation".
This Operation began on June 1, 1984. On that day, the CRPF forces which had taken positions outside the Golden Temple Complex began firing, killing dozens of people. On June 2, 1984, curfew was imposed on the whole of Punjab, which was brought under Army rule. The entire border with Pakistan from Jammu and Kashmir to Ganganagar in Rajasthan was sealed. At least 7 divisions of the Army — over I lakh soldiers from different regiments — were deployed in Amritsar and the villages of Punjab.
June 3 was the martyrdom day of Guru Arjun Dev. Over ten thousand pilgrims had gathered inside the temple complex, including large number of women, girls, and children, for this sacred occasion. For a whole 6 days, the armed forces kept firing at the Complex. Finally, tanks and armoured vehicles were used to bombard the sacred Akal Takth, the armed forces were sent in to massacre one and all, and "liberate the Golden Temple" from so called "terrorists".
Five Corps of the Army, the 10th. the 11th, the 2nd, the 1st and 15th, were actively deployed to attack the Golden Temple Complex. These troops were selected from the crack fighting formations of the Army. Besides, there were two battalions of specially trained Commandos.
According to a "White Paper" issued by the government of India on "Operation Bluestar", 4712 persons were killed and 10,000 persons arrested during the operation. On the other hand, the number of army men dead in this attack is supposed to be less than 50.
According to the same "white paper" the number of "terrorists" was supposed to be between 150 and 500, and the "arms" seized from the Golden Temple were mostly world war 2 vintage rifles that ex soldiers of the army possessed!
Hearing about the siege of their most sacred shrine, Sikh peasants from the districts of Gurdaspur and Amritsar marched with swords and some old small arms to liberate their shrine. Nearly fifty thousand peasants gathered in Golewal village about 25 kms from Amritsar and thirty thousand peasants converged from the side of Batala in Gurdaspur district. Besides twenty thousand peasants gathered near Chauk Mehta. Other formations of twenty to thirty thousand Sikhs were marching from the side of Harike Pattan. a bridge built on the confluence of rivers Sutlej and Beas. The armed forces attacked these marching peasants, killing hundreds in the process.
The "liberation of the Golden Temple" was carried out by the Indian state in typical fashion of invading forces. Women and girls were humiliated and raped. Innocent boys and men were humiliated, tortured and shot dead in cold blood. The sacred library was burnt. The bodies of those murdered were deliberately desecrated and left to municipal corporation workers to dispose off.
In other words, the Indian state sent a loud and clear message to the working class and peasantry of our country — we will murder, rape and torture you, if you dare to fight for your rights. We will do so in name of "fighting terrorism" and "defending the unity and territorial integrity of India". We will smash your unity by provoking communal passions, set you against each other on basis of religion and region, and crush you. This is the experience of our people since Operation Bluestar.
As justification for Operation Blue star, the "white Paper" of the government of India claimed that it had secret knowledge that Sikhs were planning to massacre Hindus on June 5, 1984! It has never furnished any evidence to substantiate this claim.
In fact, Operation Blue Star was planned months in advance. The Indian Army had set up training camps in Chakrata where models of the Golden Temple Complex were used for training for invasion,
More recently, secret documents of the British Government divulged to the public, following their declassification, have confirmed that Operation Bluestar was carried out with close coordination between the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi’s government and the Margaret Thatcher's government of Britain.
According to the documents, the Thatcher government had received a request on 23rd Feb,1984 from the Indira Gandhi government for intelligence assistance in planning and launching the assault on the Golden Temple. The British government acceded to this request and sent a top member of the SAS to coordinate with Indian intelligence agencies and the Army in carrying out the military operation. Letters were exchanged between the two governments which clearly indicate that both the British and Indian governments were fully aware of the terrible consequences of Operation Bluestar on the people of the Sikh faith, both in India and in Britain.
The justification provided by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi for the brutal assault on the Golden Temple was that the “government has no choice”. In fact, what the internal correspondence of the British government shows is that Operation Bluestar was a well-coordinated, preplanned act of the Indian state carried out in full collaboration with the imperialists. The plan for the army assault had been made at least four months in advance.
Operation Bluestar was a turning point in Indian politics. The Indian ruling class, the biggest monopolies, were planning on becoming a world class imperialist power. They needed to crush the opposition of workers and peasants of our country to their course. They demanded that their political parties, such as the Congress and BJP, whip up communal passions, and divide the toilers and tillers, in order to achieve their goals.
The ruling class whipped up anti-Sikh hysteria across the country. The people of the Sikh faith were portrayed as anti-national — enemies of national unity and territorial integrity. The political demands of the people of Punjab were treated as a “law and order problem”. The working class was called upon to line up behind the policy of state terrorism in the name of crushing the “enemies of India’s unity and integrity”.
The Indian State committed this dastardly crime 30 years ago. It continues to deny the crime, as many others it has committed against the people. The bourgeois media continues to portray it as an act to save Punjab from terrorism. This is turning truth completely on its head. We must not forget this crime or allow it to be quietly buried. We must put the facts on the table for discussion and dissemination so that it is recorded in history, and this crime of State terrorism is condemned, as it deserves to be, by the people of India.