40th Anniversary of Operation Bluestar:
An act of state terrorism that we can neither forget nor forgive

Statement of the Central Committee of the Communist Ghadar Party of India, 2nd June, 2024

The 6th of June 2024 marks the 40th 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 that attack which was named Operation Bluestar.

It is essential for the present generation to learn the truth about what really took place and why it took place. It is essential because we continue to be confronted with the menace of state terrorism and communal violence till today. Victims of religious persecution continue to be treated as criminals and thrown into jail, as in the case of communal violence in north-east Delhi in February 2020.

The attack on the Golden Temple took place at a time when thousands of people had gathered there to mark the occasion of the martyrdom of Guru Arjun Dev. For six whole days, the armed forces kept firing at the Complex. Tanks and armoured vehicles were used to bombard the sacred Akal Takht. Finally, the armed forces entered the temple complex allegedly to liberate the Golden Temple from terrorists.

As thousands of peasants marched from their villages near Amritsar to defend their holy shrine, they were attacked by the armed forces. This was followed by attacks on gurudwaras throughout Punjab.

The armed assault on the Golden Temple was an act of blatant interference of the State in a religious congregation. The State, whose core duty is supposed to include protecting people’s lives and their right to any form of religious worship, sent its army to attack a place of worship, killing a large number people assembled there.

The then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi claimed that her government had “no choice” because it had allegedly received secret information that terrorists gathered inside the Golden Temple were planning to organise the massacre of Hindus all over the country. This official justification has been exposed by now to be a pack of lies. No proof has been offered in the past 40 years about any such conspiracy.

Convincing evidence has been found showing that crack commando units of the Indian Army had been training for this operation with a model of the Golden Temple for target since several months prior to June 1984 at the Chakrata Army Camp. Evidence has also emerged that the Indian government had requested and received assistance from the Margaret Thatcher government in Britain at an early stage of planning the attack on the Golden Temple.

It has by now been confirmed that many of the terrorist groups operating in Punjab in the 1980s were secretly sponsored and financed by the central intelligence agencies. Senior officials in charge of the Punjab Police have admitted that special “counter-terrorism” units were used to periodically organize killings of Hindus in buses and market places and blame it on Sikh terrorists. Using such terrorist acts to inflame passions, the ruling circles carried out massive propaganda to brand the struggles in Punjab as being driven by “Sikh fundamentalism”. This served to attack, divide and divert the Punjabi people and people in struggle all over India.

Political Context

It was a time when there was widespread discontent within the country. Workers employed in essential public services were fighting for their right to strike. Farmers’ demands for stable and remunerative prices for their produce were gaining ground in many parts of the country. Demands were being raised for fulfilling the national rights of the people of Punjab, Assam and other peoples.

The capitalist monopoly houses wanted to consolidate their control over state power and put down all possible resistance to their global empire building aims. Creating the spectre of “Sikh terrorism” to justify widespread state terrorism became the preferred method to achieve this aim. Portraying Sikhs as enemies of India and unleashing violence against them served to divide and divert the struggle of workers and peasants for their rights. It also served to put down the struggle of regional propertied interests and movements for national rights in various parts of the country.

The unleashing of violence targeted at people of a particular religion has become a preferred method of the ruling class to achieve its political aims.

Important Lessons

An important lesson to be drawn from the experience of the past 40 years is that the source of communalism and communal violence does not lie in the religious beliefs of any section of the people. The source of the problem lies in the growing concentration of economic and political power in the hands of a super-rich minority of monopoly capitalists. It lies in the communal foundation of the Indian state.

Divide and rule was the motto followed by the British colonialists for establishing their rule over the Indian subcontinent. They established laws, state institutions and a political process which divided the population into majority and minority religious groups. Since 1947, the Indian bourgeoisie has preserved and further perfected the communal laws, institutions and methods of rule, while proclaiming the state to be a secular and democratic republic.

It cannot be forgotten that the establishment of the post-colonial Indian state in 1947 was itself in the midst of large-scale communal violence which accompanied the Partition. Since the decade of the 1980s, communal violence targeted at Sikhs, Muslims and others has been used by the ruling bourgeois class to divert, divide and crush all resistance to the anti-people course of globalisation, through liberalisation and privatisation

We must firmly reject and oppose the notion that the Indian State is secular while some religious fundamentalists are the problem. In the 1980s, some within the communist movement conciliated with the official propaganda that “Sikh fundamentalism” is the problem. That was a serious mistake. It weakened the struggle to build political unity against state terrorism and the dictate of the capitalist monopoly houses.

Today, the official propaganda presents “Islamic fundamentalism” as the main problem. It will be a serious mistake for communists to combat this propaganda with the notion that “Hindu fundamentalism” is the problem, while creating illusions about the “secular foundations” of the Indian state. The struggle of the working class and communist movement has to be directed against the State and the dictate of the monopoly capitalists. Only then can we advance towards solving the problems that plague our society.

Way forward

We must lead the working class to fight in defence of the right to conscience, as an inviolable right that belongs to every human being. The right to conscience applies not only to religious beliefs but also to political opinions. We cannot and must not accept that the State can deprive some persons of their right to conscience because they express an opinion which is not to the liking of those in power.

We must oppose every act of the State which violates anyone’s right to conscience. An attack on one is an attack on all! This is an indispensable guide to action.

We must wage the struggle with the perspective of replacing the existing communal and terroristic bourgeois state with a workers’ and peasants’ state, which will be a voluntary Indian Union, committed to guarantee the human rights and democratic rights of all, without exception.

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