Historic Factors Leading up to Operation Blue Star 1984

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Independence and Partition cheated Sikhs of their hopes for the restoration of the Sikh Empire leaving them without an autonomous homeland. Over the decades following independence, the Indian government congress under the leadership of Prime ministers Jawaharial Nehru Gandhi and his daughter Indira Gandhi imposed strict measures resulting in fewer and fewer freedoms for the Sikhs of Punjab. Attempts to divide and conquer by pitting rival political factions against each other failed when Sikh leaders united against congress in a common cause.

Frustrated youth dissatisfied with discriminatory government policies took up arms. The government systematically began arresting Sikh leaders. Prominent political leaders joined by supporters established headquarters at the Golden Temple complex. The government built up an army of Special Forces and plotted an armed invasion of Harmandir Sahib and dozens of other Punjab gurdwaras in a mission known as Operation Blue Star which resulted in thousands of innocent deaths.
  • 1953: Political party Shiromi Akali Dal is formed to lobby for a Punjabi state.
  • 1966: Punjab Restoration Act implements a Punjabi majority state. The central government takes control of water resulting in economic hardship for Sikhs.
  • 1971: Momentum builds for the Khalistan restoration movement of a separate sovereign Sikh state.
  • 1973: Shirommani Akali Dal party drafts the Anandpur Resolution based on the 3 Golden Rules of Sikhism seeking greater political representation for Sikh majority Punjab.
  • 1977: Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and congress politically promote the popular preacher Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwali to prevent the Akali Dal party from increasing in power.
  • 1978: Dissatisfaction with government policy builds when Punjab police look the other way while encouraging an uprising of 6,000 armed Nirankaris against 200 unarmed Akhand Kirtani Sikhs assembled in peaceful protest resulting in 13 deaths.
  • 1980: Bhindranwale is considered a suspect in the assassination of Nirankari leader after publicly celebrating the deed. The confession and sentencing of another clears Bhindranwale of charges.
  • 1981: Bhindranwale is a suspect in the assassination of a prominent journalist. He voluntarily turns himself in, is declared innocent, and released.
  • 1982: Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale breaks with congress and joins with Akali Dal president Sant Harchand Singh Longowal in the 22 month long political agitation of Dharm Yudh Morcha. Together they campaign for an autonomous Punjab and the implementation of Anandpur Resolutions drafted in 1973. The Indian Government harasses Sikh leaders with arrest and detention. Bhindranwale evades capture and along with along with 200 of his supporters takes up residence in Guru Nanak Nivas, a guest house at the Golden Temple complex.
  • 1983: Punjab is subjected to President's Rule. Indira Gandhi attempts to negotiate with Sant Longowal hoping to break his alliance with Sant Bhindranwale. Meanwhile the Indian government conspires to fortify armed forces and police personnel. While rousing the spirit of freedom in youth who rally for Khalistan, Sant Bhindranwale and his entourage, including Major General Shabeg Singh formerly of the Indian Army, prepare the Harmandir Sahib Golden Temple complex to resist a government military invasion.
  • 1984: Indira Gandhi, Congress and the Indian Army conspire to implement Operation Blue Star. A two part operative is planned. An invasion of the Golden Temple Complex to eliminate Bhindranwale and his supporters is scheduled to occur along with a simultaneous raid on all prominent gurdwaras of Punjab.

In June of 1984, Indira Gandhi shut down the city of Amritsar and ordered Special Forces with armored vehicles to invade the Golden Temple complex during a commemorative occasion which had attracted thousands of worshipers. The disastrous 10 day siege devastated Sikhs around the world. Soldiers, snipers, and shelling destroyed countless innocent lives, decimated holy scriptures, demolished historic shrines, and decimated artifacts.

Up Next:      

Never Forget 1984: Anti-Sikh Government Sponsored Genocide
Never Forget 1984: Operation Blue Star Golden Temple Invasion Timeline
Operation Black Thunder I: 1986 Timeline
Operation Black Thunder II 1988 Timeline Set Up, Siege, and Surrender

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