Harmandir Sahib- Operation Blue Star

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Operation Blue star took place from 3-8 June 1984, carried out by the Indian Military, to have a control over the Harmandir Complex in Punjab and to take away Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and all his armed men from the complex under the former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi. Jarnail had made Harmandir his headquarters in 1980, and was planning to start a great army of his own.

These operations were taken by two ways; Operation Metal, which was confined on Harmandir complex and Operation shop, which was confined to capture any suspects in and around Punjab. Followed by these two operations, a third one was setup, known as Operation Woodrose, to thoroughly scan Punjab for any suspects. The operation had tanks, helicopters, artillery, and lot of vehicles. The death toll went up to 83 in the army while 492 civilians were killed. After this operation, many Sikhs resigned their job from the army and civil offices, and gave back all the awards and honors that they got from the country. On October 31, same year, four months later, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards.

Indira Gandhi, selected Lt.Gan.S.K.Sinha to become the next army chief and to take up the operation, but he was replaced because of some controversial problem, by Gen Arun Shridhar Vaidya. He along with Lt.Gen.K Sundarji planned to take the operation forward.  On the 3rd   of June, a plan was set up in the state of Punjab and it was for 36 hours, the communication, transport, electricity was cut down, which created a dark space in Punjab. The happening in the state was totally secure and no media could know about that.

On June 1st 1984, the Border Security Force and Central Reserve Police Force started firing at the Guru Das Langar building, which killed about 8 people.

On June 2nd, Indian army sealed the borders in Kashmir, Rajasthan. The army was divided into seven divisions to secure the villages in Punjab. By dawn, all the media was gagged, all the transport and air service in Punjab was stopped. Foreigners and NRI’s were not allowed into Punjab. The electricity was also cut off.

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On June 3rd, the army sealed all the way in and out of the temple and the army and military was patrolling Punjab.

On June 4th, the army started bombarding Ramgarhia Bungas. They used high end weapons. They used APC’s to destroy the walls, 100 died in this battle. About 50,000 Sikh were opposing the army, in the Golewal village, 25 km from amristar. The gathering was from two sides; one from Batala and the other from the Chauk Mehta. When the helicopter spotted the large movements, General K.Sunderji sent in tanks to stop them, but that meeting killed thousands of Sikhs. While in the Mandhir, all the firing was stopped and Gurcharan Singh Tohra was sent in to speak with Bindrawale, but in vain. The firing resumed again.

On June 5th, in the morning, the 9th division started a frontal attack on Akal Takht, but was unable to secure the building. By 7 p.m. the BSF and CRPF started attacking the Brahm Boota Akhara and Hotel Temple View, from the southern side. By 10 p.m. both the buildings were in control of the army. At dawn, that is from 10 p.m. to 7 30 a.m. the army decided to go in for a 3 way attack. 10 guards, 1para commandos and a SFF(Special Frontier Force) will attack from the main entrance, while 26 madras and 9 kumaon battalions will come from the south. 10 guards were assigned the job of taking away the attention from the SFF and Para commando who were in the job of gaining the hold of Akal Takht and Harmandir Sahib. 12 Bihar was given the job of neutralizing the enemy positions.

As the troops entered from the Northern Side, they were fired using machine-gun. The Commandoes and the SFF reached the Harmandir Sahib, inched by pillar by pillar. They were told not to fire at Harmandir Sahib, but the commandoes and SFF were firing right from Harmandir Sahib itself. The commandoes tried to gain the hold of Darshini Deori, but failed because they had heavy firing, but after small and calm steps, it was under control. Under all this fuss, 26 madras and 9 garhwal (troops in reserve) was fired heavily from the roof top of Langar and Guru Ramdas Serai. The army took a lot of time in opening the southern gate which was sealed; it needed a tank to open the gate. This delay claimed many lives of the soldiers who were inside, battling the enemies. After the southern gate was opened, 3 tanks and APC’s entered the complex. Crawling was impossible because light machine guns were placed just above the ground, which caused some lives. They tried 5 times to gain the control of the pool but in vain. Heavy causalities were requested for reinforcements. Sending in the companies caused a lot of causalities, which made Brar request Tank support. The tanks got the permission to fire only by 7 30 a.m.

June 6th, Vijayanta Tanks fired at Akal Takhat and got the site into control. A group was trying to escape, was got down by machine guns.

June 7th, army gained complete control of the Harmandir Sahib complex.

June 8th -10th, the army stormed into the basement of the complex, it claimed the life of a colonel. By the 10th afternoon, Harmandir Sahib complex was under control.

Lot of lives was claimed in this operation, but officially 492 civilians and 136 military lives were claimed. The use of tanks in the gathering caused about 20,000 lives, but it is not confirmed. About 700 soldiers were lost in this operation, this count is also unofficial.

This operation was carried on to take away Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale from Harmandir Complex, but this operation had a lot of opposing and claimed many lives of the army and the civilians. It also claimed the life of the former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, who was assassinated by two of her body guards, 4 months later in October.

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