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Conclusion and References

The bloody assault on Darbar Sahib lacerated the deepest chord of the Sikh psyche. It was an attack on their faith and their identity, in fact their very being. An entire community felt deeply stabbed, shaken, humiliated and alienated. The sentiments of each Sikh were epitomised by an uneducated lady from Faridkot while talking to a journalist, “It is like making me naked in public and assaulting me.” It was indeed a rape of the community.

Consider the reaction of a relatively westernised Delhi based Sikh, not at all deeply religious, but with a strong attachment to Sikh tradition and beliefs and with a sense of pride in Sikh history. She wrote:

“It is now four days ago that the news broke of the entry of the Army into the Golden Temple. It still seems like a nightmare, too incredible to be a reality. Yet the visuals keep returning to my mind—the tranquility, the calm, the beauty of the Harmandir Sahib, the pristine purity of the expanse of the white marble parkarma the extra-ordinary feeling of reverence which invariably overwhelmed me, almost in spite of myself, born out of a sense of history, a strange personal identification. Now superimposed on these images are the scenes of battle of blood on the white marble, of the agony of violent death, of hatred, of peace shattered. Instead of the sound of kirtan, of the beautiful verses of the Guru Granth Sahib, the dreadful burst of machine guns, the shrill deadly spatter of rifles, the crumbling of bricks and mortar, which were far more than mere buildings, which represented for us the highest authority of the spirit and, above all, the voice of human pain in what was a place of solace and compassion.”230

We give the reaction of a highly intellectual and a non-believer Sikh Dr. Nazar Singh, a co-researcher of Dr. Khurana, the Nobel-laureate in England, a distinguished and brilliant Chemist, Head, Department of Chemistry, Punjabi University, Patiala, who had since his student days been an agnostic and a known Marxist ideologue. He, who had never been to a Gurdwara, even though it was next to his house in his village stated:

“Well, I don’t know, what has happened to me, the attack has shaken me comple­tely. I have not been able to sleep for the last two nights.”231

Another educated lady expressed her emotional outburst after the Blue Star m the following lines. This was probably the first and the last poem which she ever wrote:

‘Every Sikh heart bleeds,

To think of your heinous deeds,

it is time you die of shame

And give up all your claim

To be a champion of minority,

Hindu nation is your top priority.

Do you search your conscience,

When you preach non-violence?

You are a terrorist of the worst kind,

Blind to the values of mankind.

Nastiest tyrant of the present time,

Minister prime of war and crime,

You clamour for Nobel Peace prize,

When your own country is cut to size,

Just another breed of your kind,

Can spell disaster for mankind.

This is the cry of each Sikh soul

You can fool the world no more.”232

We also record an emotional but perceptive wail of an old Punjabi Hindu, who on hearing the attack on the Golden Temple cried: “O God, what has happened. This gap is not going to be bridged.233

The event led to an unprecedented religious resurgence in the Sikh community, witnessed in the form of saffron turbans and flowing beards—visible symbols of their resolve to preserve their distinct identity and to keep the torch of their heritage burning at any cost. Alienation of the Sikhs was bound to lead to disas­trous consequences. The emotional bonds that linked the Sikh community with the country were visibly shaken, if not severed. The shells that tore holes in the Sikh shrine also ruptured the natural ties of the Sikhs with the nation and its people. The moral prestige of the Government was shattered.

The Sikhs who took pride in playing the role of brave and unflinching soldiers in guarding the country’s frontiers felt betrayed. The Sikh women who braving all hazards of their visit to the front lines of the battle during the indo-Pakistan War, gave ample proof of their boundless patriotism by carrying bundles of food and pots of milk and curd on their heads to serve the army jawans felt grievously hurt when they became victims of the wrath of the same army, of a fate contrived by human hands. It was an irony that the most patriotic community which had under­gone untold sufferings and persecutions to save the freedom and honour of the country was thrown into the crucible of fire on a charge of lack of patriotism. For nothing can be more destruc­tive to human bonds than to accuse a person of disloyalty and betrayal when he feels emotionally linked by cords of friendship and love. The task of recording full implications of this suicidal step is left to the future historian, as the events still continue to unfold themselves.

The sense of personal identification felt by almost every Sikh explains the intensity of pain and depth of the hurt. But it is not that simple. For the Sikhs, the Golden Temple is more than a place of pilgrimage. It is a symbol of Sikhism itself, destroyed repeatedly by its enemies, who in the act of destruction, wished to root out the young faith. Each time the Temple was rebuilt out of its ruins to become a unique symbol of strength, pride and self-respect.

The fateful event of the bloody attack on Darbar Sahib carried disturbing omens for the future of the Indian polity. Moved by the severity of the action at Jallianwala Bagh in 1919, Rabindranath Tagore renounced his knighthood and wrote to the Viceroy: “The enormity of the measures taken by the Govern­ment in Punjab for quelling some local disturbances has, with acute shock, revealed to our minds the helplessness of our position as British subjects in India.”234 It is well-known that Jallianwala Bagh massacre became a turning point in Anglo-Sikh and Indo- British relations. To the Imperialists, Dyer was the saviour of the Raj, but to the Punjabis, he has been the villain of the piece, who perpetrated brutality for brutality’s sake. It was tantamount to activating a dormant volcano. Sir Michael O’ Dwyer, who claimed that be had saved the empire had in fact dealt it the most grievous blow by alienating the people. The motive which led General Dyer to order the massacre was no longer a question of merely dispersing a crowd but one of producing a moral effect, not only on those who were present but more especially through­out the Punjab. The episode did produce an effect but just in the direction opposite to what Dyer had intended. It generated an unprecedented socio-political ferment, showing the way from bondage to freedom. Immediately followed the Akali movement the Jaitu and Guru Ka Bagh Morchas and the Sikhs going into the vanguard of the freedom struggle. In this regard observations made by K.F. Rustamji are significant:

“The people of Punjab are a vibrant, vigorous lot. They are easily misled, easily cajoled, easily riled, and yet they have dynamism that has no equal in India. Like all brave, warlike races they are ready for fight whenever they feel they have been ill-treated or misled. The Punjabis who participated in the Satyagraha and violence against the British were so strong in the vanguard that majority of the British in India felt at that time that making an example of them at Jallianwala Bagh was necessary. The wisest believed that in the process General Dyer was reckless and overdid it. Few saw it as a set­back to the British rule. The British never recovered from the effects of that mistake till the end. But has that taught any lesson? Operation Woodrose was an exercise that seemed to be based on that sort of thinking.”235

Both in its manner and magnitude, the Blue Star massacre was far more callous and bloodier than the Jallianwala Bagh killings. The intense gravity of the event was also much deeper and far more extensive than that of Dyer’s attack. While the latter shook only the freedom loving community of Punjab where there had been a ferment and literate and urbanite community in the rest of India which had started a confrontation with the colonial rule, the Blue Star attack caused the severest anguish in every Sikh heart, young or old, sophisticated or unsophisticated, rich or poor, wherever he was in India or abroad. And the pain was doubly deep because apart from the sudden and rude realisation that they were a comm­unity virtually enslaved; the intensity of bitterness was unparalleled because the blow had been inflicted not by an alien government but by that of their own country for the freedom of which they had suffered and shed blood for centuries on end.

In the case of Blue Star holocaust, the motive would appear to be not the much publicised object of restoring the law and order but to cripple the Sikhs into submission. There is no denying the fact that the event led to far-reaching consequences which were quite contrary to what the Government had expected. Those acquainted with the Sikh history know that the Sikh religion thrives on persecution and the blood of the martyrs proves to be the cement of the Church. Out of the ashes of martyrs, phoenix-like, “they rise into higher splendour from every attempt to crush them.”236

Even a cursory glance at Sikh history reveals that, whatever the cost in terms of human sacrifice and suffering, the Sikhs do not brook any encroachment on their sanctum sanctorum. In the eighteenth century, the Temple was thrice destroyed by the invaders but each time, the Sikhs reconstructed it with their own hands, thus making it a symbol of their dauntless spirit and their unyielding determination to survive against all odds. What added to the anguish of the Sikhs was that this time the attack on the Temple was mounted by their own Government, by their own army, by their own country to which they had been loyal with their blood. This was the first instance of its kind in the history of the civilised world. It was tragic that a full scale attack was mounted by the Indian army against the spiritual fount of a community which since its creation by the Gurus had made the largest contribution towards the country's freedom.

The attack on Darbar Sahib gave a big jolt to the Sikhs and held out ominous political and religious portents. It became a festering sore in the body politic of the country. In the pre-independence days it was the painful memory of the Jallianwala Bagh massacre which disillusioned the Sikhs. After the Blue Star attack, the Indian Government has found it difficult to suppress or deal with the moral and mental revolt against its actions which it has created and the problem has acquired new dimensions. The Sikhs find it difficult to erase from their collective psyche the bitter memories of the bloody assault on Darbar Sahib. The emotive scars on their hearts cannot be healed so easily. In over 12000 villages of Punjab, the Sikh anger was being further stoked by the whipped up repression carried out by the army in the name of '’crushing terrorism”. No amount of rhetoric on national integration or national unity could unite the hearts torn asunder by the brutal action. While every Hindu thought that Government’s action was right and justified, the Sikhs of all hues and shades felt outraged. The images that flashed across the bruised Sikh psyche were that of sacrilege, the martyrdom of Bhindranwale and the brutalities of the horrendous act against the Sikhs.

Desecration and loot of sacred places by invaders like Mohammad Gauri, Changez Khan, Abdali and others is known but history records no peace time parallel of a gruesome event involving the destruction of the holiest place of a minority by its own government.


  1. Surya, July, 1984.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Noorani. A.G.; ‘A White Paper on a Black Record’, in Samiuddin, Abida(ed.), The Punjab Crisis: Challenge and Response (Delhi, 1985), P. 238.'
  5. Farooqi, M.; ‘June’ 83 Formula Offers A Solution’ in Ibid., P. 333.
  6. Sunday Times, London, June 10, 1984; Surjeet, Harkishan Singh; ‘Truths from Punjab’ in Indian Express, June 18, 1984; Chopra, Pran; ‘Where Has All the Song and Dance Gone’ in The Illustrated Weekly of India, December 11-17, 1983.
  7. Indian Express, July I, 1984.
  8. India To-day, June 15, 1984.
  9. Indian Express, January 3, 1992,
  10. Nayar, Kuldip and Khushwant Singh; Tragedy of Punjab (New Delhi, 1984), P. 10.
  11. Citizens For Democracy; Oppression in Punjab (Bombay, 1985), P. 17.
  12. Noorani, A.G.; ‘A White Paper on a Black Record’ in Simuiddin, Abida(ed); op. cit., P. 231.
  13. Kirepaker, Subash; ‘Amritsar Diary’ Ibid., P. 170.
  14. Tragedy of Punjab, P.121, On March 23, 1984 Rajiv Gandhi said, “I think we should not enter the Golden Temple. The police can enter the temples, but it is a question of what is good balance. To-day as we see it, it is not as if Sikhs are against the Hindus, and we should do nothing that separates them.” Noorani, A.G.; ‘A White Paper on a Black Record’ in Patwant Singh and Malik, Harji; Punjab: The Fatal Miscalculation (New Delhi, 1985), P. 145.
  15. Bhai Gurdas; var 9, Pauri 14.             
  16. Archer, John Clark; The Sikhs (Princeton, 1946), P. 12.
  17. Gordon, J.H.; The Sikhs (London, 1904), P. 159.
  18. Malcolm, John; Sketch of the Sikhs (London, 1812), P. 88.
  19. Nur Mohammad, Qazi, Jangnama.
  20. Bhangu, Rattan Singh; Prachin Panth Parkash (ed.) Bhai Vir Singh (Amritsar, 1962), P. 325.  
  21. Mohinder Singh; The Akali Movement P. 47. (Delhi, 1978),
  22. Ibid., P. 140.            
  23. Ibid., P. 139.            
  24. Ibid., P. 140.            
  25. Ibid.            
  26. Dharam, S.S.; The Only Option For Sikhs P. 33. (Jaipur, 1984),
  27. Harminder Kaur; Blue Star Over Amritsar (Delhi, 1990), P. 16 (2n).  
  28. Dharam; op. cit., P. 33.        
  29. Harminder Kaur; op. cit., P. 23.        
  30. Tragedy of Punjab, P. 92.   
  31. 31.  Tully, Mark and Jacob, Satish; Amritsar Last Battle (New Delhi, 1985), P. 147-48.  Mrs. Gandhi's
  32. Harminder Kaur; op. cit., P. 7 (4n). 
  33. Oppression in Punjab, P. 57.            
  34. Ibid.            
  35. Ibid.            
  36. Harminder Kaur; op. cit., P. 8.          
  37. Ibid.            
  38. Ibid., P. 9. 
  39. Government of India; White Paper On The Punjab Agitation (New Delhi, 1984), P. 43.
  40. Oppression in Punjab, P 58.
  41. Tully, Mark and Jacob Satish; op. cit., P. 145.
  42. Ibid., P. 142.
  43. Ibid.
  44. White Paper, P. 109.
  45. Tragedy of Punjab, P. 91.
  46. White Paper, P. 109.
  47. Sunday Times, London, June 10, 1984.
  48. The Tribune, June 3, 1984.
  49. Oppression in Punjab, P. 59.
  50. Ibid., P. 60.
  51. Gian Singh Gyani; Twarikh-i-Guru Khalsa (Patiala, ‘1923), P. 18.
  52. Indian Express, June 17, 1984.
  53. 53.  Mann, Simranjit Singh; ‘Letter    to President Zail Singh’ in Dharam, S.S.; op. cit, P. 232.
  54. Kirapekar, Subash; ‘Operation Blue Star ; An Eyewitness Account’ in Atnarjit Kaur, Shourie, Arun et.al ; The Punjab Story (New Delhi, 1984), P. 78.
  55. Ibid.
  56. Ibid.
  57. Oppression in Punjab, P. 57.
  58. Ibid, P. 60.
  59. Sunday Times, London, June 10, 1984.
  60. 60.  Kirapekar, Subash; op. cit., P.     81.
  61. Dharam, S.S.; op. cit., P. 41.
  62. Chellaney, Brahma; ‘An Eye Account’ in Samiuddin, Abida; op. cit., P. 181.
  63. Harminder Kaur; op. cit., P. 20.
  64. Kirapekar, Subash; ‘Amritsar Diary’ in Simuiddin, Abida (ed.); op. cit., P. 172.
  65. Brar, K.S,; ‘It was a Difficult Task’ in Samuiddin, Abida; op. cit., P. 164.
  66. Karlekar, Hiranmay: ‘Guerilla action in Punjab?—I’ in Indian Express, August 23, 1984.
  67. Tully, Mark and Jacob, Satish; op. cit., P. 182.
  68. Ibid., P. 175.
  69. Ibid.
  70. Ibid., P. 183.
  71. Tavleen Singh; ‘Terrorists in the Temple’ in Punjab Story, PP. 48-49.
  72. Ibid.
  73. Indian Express, July 2, 1984.
  74. Tavleen Singh; op. cit, PP. 48-49.
  75. Ibid.
  76. Pritam Singh; ‘The Role of the Media’ in Amrik Singh (Ed,); Punjab in Indian Politics (Delhi, 1985), P. 163.
  77. Telegraph, London, June 15, 1984.
  78. Tragedy of Punjab, P. 102.
  79. Surya, August, 1984.
  80. Tragedy of Punjab, P. 109.
  81. Dharam, S.S.; op. cit., P. 43.
  82. White Paper, P. 169.
  83. Ibid.
  84. Kumar, Ram Narayan and Sieberer, Georg; The Sikh Struggle (Delhi, 1991), P. 265.
  85. White Paper,?. 169.
  86. Chellaney, Brahma; op. cit., P. 183.
  87. Tragedy of Punjab, P. 108.
  88. Harroinder Kaur; op. cit., P. 47.
  89. Chellaney, Brahma; op. cit., P. 185.
  90. Tragedy of Punjab, P. 94.
  91. Harminder Kaur; op. cit.,- P. 38.
  92. Oppression in Punjab, P. 11.
  93. Probe India, August, 1984.
  94. Sunday Times, London, June 10, 1984.
  95. Harminder Kaur; op. cit., P. 39.
  96. Mann, Simranjit Singh’s Letter to President Zail Singh in Dharam, S.S.; op. cit., P. 231.
  97. Oppression in Punjab, PP. 59-60.
  98. Ibid., P. 61.
  99. Ibid., P. 63.
  100. Ibid.
  101. Ibid.
  102. Ibid., PP. 64-65.
  103. Ibid., P. 67.
  104. Ibid., PP. 67-68.
  105. Ibid., P. 68.
  106. Ibid., P. 69.
  107. Ibid., PP. 69-70.
  108. Ibid , PP. 70-71.
  109. Ibid., P. 71.
  110. Ibid., P. 72.
  111. Ibid., PP. 66-67.
  112. Ibid.
  113. Tully, Mark and Jacob, Satish; op. cit., P. 163.
  114. Oppression in Punjab, P. 67; Harminder Kaur; op. cit, P. 45.
  115. Tully, Mark and Jacob, Satish; op. cit., P. 176.
  116. Surya, August, 1984.
  117. The Tribune, July 4, 1984.
  118. The Punjab Story, P. 92.
  119. Harminder Kaur, op. cit., P. 45.
  120. Ibid.
  121. Kirepaker, Subash in The Punjab Story, P. 83.
  122. Harminder Kaur; op. cit., P. 46.
  123. Ibid.
  124. Chellaney, Brahma; ‘An Eye Account’ in Samuiddin, Abida; op. cit., P. 182.
  125. Dharam, S.S.; op. cit., P. 45.
  126. Harminder Kaur; op. cit.} P. 48; Tully, Mark and Jacob, Satish; op. cit., P. 152.
  127. Dharam, S.S.; op. cit., P. 47.
  128. Ibid.
  129. Ibid., P. 49.
  130. Ibid.
  131. Ibid.
  132. Indian Express, June 15, 1984.
  133. Sethi, Sunil; ‘The Great Divide’ in The Punjab Story, P. 168.
  134. Surya, September, 1984.
  135. White Paper, P. 43.
  136. Noorani, A.G.; op. cit., PP. 228-29.
  137. Kirepaker, Subash; ‘Amritsar Diary’ in Samuiddin, Abida; op. cit., P. 177.
  138. The Illustrated Weekly of India April 7, 1985; The Tribune, April 1, 1985.
  139. Dharam, S.S.; op. cit., P. 151; Harminder Kaur; op. cit., P. 49; Tully and Jacob; op. cit., PP. 194-95.
  140. Tully and Jacob; Ibid.
  141. Indian Express, June 13, 1984.
  142. The Sunday Times, London, June 17, 1984.
  143. Tragedy of Punjab, Annexture-G, PP. 167-170.
  144. Indian Express, June 18, 1984.
  145. Oppression in Punjab, PP. 29-30;

Indian Express, September 30, 1984;

Tully, Mark and Jacob, Satish op. cit., P. 204,

  1. Oppression in Punjab', PP. 29-30.
  2. Indian Express, September 30, 1984.
  3. Indian Express, October 15, 1984.
  4. Oppression in Punjab, PP. 9-12.
  5. Christian Science Monitor (U.S.A.); October 15, 1984.
  6. Oppression in Punjab, PP. 19-20.
  7. Ibid., P. 20.
  8. Ibid., P. 31.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Ibid., P. 32.
  11. I bid.
  12. Ibid.
  13. Ibid., P. 33.
  14. Ibid , PP. 33-34.
  15. Bains, Ajit Singh; Siege of the Sikhs (Toronto, 1988), P. 18.
  16. Ibid.
  17. Iyer, Krishna V. R ; 'Handcuffs On My Wrists And Iron Chains On My Body’ in The Spokesman Weekly, December 30, 1991.
  18. Bains, Ajit Singh; op. cit., P. 19.
  19. Ibid
  20. The Tribune, November 18, 1989,
  21. Thukral, Gobind, ‘Atrocities On Sikh Children’ in India To-day, September 30, 1984.
  22. Ibid
  23. Ibid.
  24. Ibid.
  25. Ibid.
  26. Kumar, Rani Narayan and Sieberer, Georg; op. cit., P. 291.
  27. Oppression in Punjab, PP. 76-77.
  28. Rahul Singh; The Strange Case of Brahma Challaney’ in Indian Express, January 21, 1985.
  29. Abdi, S.N.M.; ‘Rising Militancy’ in The Illustrated Weekly of India, May 6, 1990.
  30. Goyal, D. R.; ‘Kashmir : BJP’s new theme song’ in The Tribune, October 10, 1991.
  31. Kumar, Ram Narayan and Sieberer, Georg; op. cit., P. 286.
  32. 178 Tavleen Singh; ‘The Law that Strikes terror’ in The Spokesman Weekly, October, 28, 1991.
  33. Ibid.
  34. Indian Express, March 31, 1992.
  35. White Paper, P. 23.
  36. Ibid.
  37. The Tribune, February 20 and 21, 1984.
  38. Harminder Kaur; op. cit., PP. 150-151; The Tribune, February 15, 1984.
  39. Ibid.
  40. Noorani, A. G.; ‘A White Paper On A Black Record’ in Samiuddin, Abida; op. cit., P. 227.
  41. Samiuddin, Abida; op. cit., Appendix I, PP. 644-45.
  42. ‘President Defends Army Action’ in Ibid., P. 682.
  43. Nayar, Kuldip and Khushwant Singh; op. cit,, P. 56.
  44. Ibid.
  45. Ibid., P. 88.
  46. WhitePaper, P. 32.
  47. Finance Minister Pranab Mukerjee’s Press statement given at Calcutta on June 23, 1984 is quoted in the editorials of The Tribune and Indian Express of July 1, 1984.
  48. White Paper, PP. 110-162.
  49. Sinha, Sachchidanand, Sunil et.al., Army        Action in Punjab (New Delhi, 1984), P. 37.
  50. The Tribune editorial, July 1, 1984.
  51. Nayar, Kuldip and Khushwant Singh; op. cit., P. 124.
  52. White Paper, P. 23.
  53. Ibid.
  54. Vir Partap, September 22, 23, 198!; The Ajit, September 21, 22, 1981.
  55. White Paper, P. 111.
  56. Ibid., P. 118.
  57. The Tribune, April 10, 1983; India To-Day, April 30, 1983.
  58. The Tribune, February 21, 1984.
  59. Ibid.
  60. Kothari, Rajni and Deshingkar, Giri; ‘Punjab: The Longer View’ in Samiuddin, lbida; op. cit., P. 626.
  61. Ibid.
  62. Army Action in Punjab, P. 39; Dharam, S. S.; op. cit., P. 70.
  63. White Paper, P. 134.
  64. The Punjabi Tribune, July 24, 1984.
  65. White paper, P. 152.
  66. The Punjabi Tribune, July 24, 1984.
  67. White Paper, P. 159.
  68. The Punjabi Tribune, July 24. 1984.
  69. Bobb. Dalip, Badhwar, Inderjit et.al. ‘The Specture of Terrorism’ in India To-day, July 31, 1982.
  70. India To-day, October 31, 1986.
  71. India To-day, July 31, 1987, op. cit.
  72. Narayanan, V.N.; ‘If hindsight can help’ in The Tribune, July 20, 1989.
  73. Rustamji, K.F; ‘Revenge not the answer’ in The Tribune, February 20, 1992.
  74. 220 The Times, London, June 9, 1984.
  75. Indian Express, July 18, 1984.
  76. The Telegraph, July 29, 1984; Ibid.
  77. Sandhu, Kanwar; 'Confounding the Confusion’ in Indian Express, August 11, 1984.
  78. Teja Singh and Ganda Singh; A Short History of the Sikhs (Bombay, 1950), P.41.
  79. Indian Express, July 23, 1984, August 11, 1984, October 15, 1984.
  80. Tully, Mark and Jacob, Satish; op cit., P. 215.
  81. The Tribune} September 3, 1984.
  82. Ibid; Indian Express, September 3, 1984.
  83. Indian Express, September 3, 1984.
  84. Tully, Mark and Jacob, Satish; op. cit., P. 216.
  85. Malik, Harji; ‘A Wounded Community’ in Indian Express. June 19, 1984.
  86. An interview with the author.
  87. An interview with the author.
  88. An interview with the author.
  89. Government of India; Home Department, Political, Deposit, August 1919, No. 51.
  90. Rustamji, K.F.; ‘Revenge not the answer, in The Tribune, February 20, 1992.
  91. Malcolm, John; op. cit. PP. 102-103.