Indian Govt. was making planned of operation blue star before 18 month.
The army action was not a last report as Prime Minister Indira Ghandhi would have us belive.
it had been in her mind for more than 18 months.
The army had begun rehearsals of a commando attack near Chakrata Cantonment in the Doon Valley, Where a complete replica of the Golden Temple complex had been built.
Indian Army’s attack on Darbar Sahib: the Untold Story
(Dr Harjinder Singh Dilgeer)
Why did Indira Gandhi attack Darbar Sahib ?
Although Indira Gandhi had re-captured power from the Janta Party Alliance and had become P.M. again on the 14th of January 1980, but she knew that she had won those elections due to negative votes cast by voters against the Janta Party’s infighting; and, now, she had no new agenda for the next elections and about half of the term of Lok Sabha had passed, so she began thinking over several fronts; first she deliberated upon using the Tamil issue (in Sri Lanka) but it would not have yielded her much gains because it would have affected only Tamil or at the most Dravid votes, most of which were already with her, especially when the B.J.P. was her main opposition the South would support her because of its (South’s) clash with north on the issue of language and culture. Hence, to capture a high chunk of north Indian votes she (Indira Gandhi) needed to show something startling; hence she decided to use the Sikh card; and, for this purpose, she had to outstrip the B.J.P. and other fundamentalist and fanatic Hindu organisations to ensure the Hindus that ‘only the Congress can safeguard the interests of the Hindus’; this she could have achieved only by first establishing the Sikhs as ‘enemies of the Hindus as well as India’ and then by crushing them with all might.
With all this in her mind, Indira Gandhi decided to use the Indian Army, the R.A.W. (the Indian intelligence network), the I.B. (Intelligence Bureau) and all the media for an all out attack on the Sikhs.
Under this move Indira Gandhi decided to attack on the very heart of Sikhism i.e. Darbar Sahib Amritsar; she wanted to teach the Sikhs such a lesson that, what to talk of demanding their rights, they should never be able to raise their heads as honourable people; it included mass killings, desecration of their shrines, destruction of their archives, libraries and museums, their history and heritage; to create a permanent physical, social and psychological awe in their minds to make them realise that they had no pride, no civic, religious or human rights; and they were slaves and third rate beings (not humans).
Preparing Ground for invasion
To execute this agenda, Indira Gandhi decided to first create hatred in the mind of the Hindus in order to get their full-fledged support for herself and for her actions as well as disdain for the Sikhs; hence she had to present the Sikhs as criminals, killers of the Hindus, fanatics, fundamentalists and ferocious persons; and, on the other hand, to present the Hindus, especially of the Punjab as innocent people and peaceful citizens and victims of terrorism. To achieve this agenda she had to unite all the Hindu fanatics under one umbrella and one slogan: ‘hate the Sikhs, they are traitors, they are enemies of the Hindus, they are danger to the sovereignty of the country.’
Indira’s next move was to use all the media, Indian as well as foreign, by provoking or/and by bribing them, through national and international political manoeuvring and even through commercial publicity agencies; and it was a part of her strategy that the Sikhs should not be able to get international support or sympathy and they should rather be presented as ‘Sikh terrorists’ and not militants or Khalistanis or freedom fighters, or victims of state terrorism. She sent missions, she financed journalists and news agencies, she held dinner parties to the media folk and sent precious gifts to writers, journalists and press correspondents; and, through her own official and national media she launched an all out war against the Sikhs.
The next move was to create differences and dissension, conflict and rebellion among the Sikh organisations so that they should point out their guns towards each other; this could have been doubly useful: firstly, a civil war among the Sikhs leading to destruction or at least major losses and a state of standstill in their struggle; and, secondly it would become an excuse to pounce upon them in many a way.
At home front Indira Gandhi did not fully trust the R.A.W and/or the I.B., hence she created a new agency under the code name Third Agency; she herself was the in charge of this ‘Agency’; her son Rajiv Gandhi and Arun Nehru were her main advisors; all the plan regarding the Punjab had been chalked out and executed by this Third Agency;it had three main objectives: (1) to clinch the Hindu votes in the rest of the country by giving the Sikh community a punch on the nose; (2) to take the wind out of the Opposition’s sail by doing exactly what they had been saying the Government should do: ‘attack Darbar Sahib’; (3) to test the efficiency of a Third Intelligence Agency camouflaged by a blundering R.A.W. and inefficient I.B. According to Surya, three things prove the total involvement of the Government and its intelligence network in the Punjab operation: (1) all the senior intelligence officers serving in the Punjab, Rajasthan, J & K sector during the Akali agitation have either been promoted, recommended for a police medal or sent abroad; (2) most of the arms that were found in the Darbar Sahib, in 1984, had been smuggled into the country through Rajasthan under the actual supervision and/or connivance of a RAW officer; (3) S.K. Tripathi, in charge of RAW at Amritsar, from mid 1982 to the 3rd of May 1984, had sent a coded telegram to Delhi with details of an impending attack on more than 40 railway stations in the Punjab – and the Government chose nothing to do about it. Surya asserts that the ‘Third Agency’ was formed only to aid the Congress Party (Indira Gandhi) in its election campaign (to use the Sikh card).
“The Third Agency had its office at Bikaner House, Shahjahan Road, New Delhi; to camouflage it a Board bearing the nomenclature ‘Cabinet Secretariat (Security) was hung at the gate of its office. This ‘Agency’ was masterminded by R.N. Kao (Chief Security Advisor to Indira Gandhi); other important organisers included: N.F. Santook (former chief of the RAW), G.C. Saxena (later chief of RAW), and R. Shankaran Nair (Director P.M.’s Secretariat) etc.” H. S. Kriplani (a RAW man) who was expert in planning secret murders, was made in charge of the Punjab and was given charge of clandestine assassinations in the Punjab; he was also assigned the job of ‘gun smuggling operations’; Rabinder Ohri (Assistant Director RAW) operated from Rajasthan and coordinated with H.S. Kriplani (in smuggling of weapons); later, W.N.B. Rao (another Assistant Director RAW) took over from Ohri; after this R.N. Gupta (Assistant Director RAW) replaced Rao and supervised operations in Rajasthan; he remained on this ‘job’ till December 1983. Similarly, A.I. Vasuvada (another RAW officer) remained the in charge of Amritsar till summer of 1982; it was he who master-minded the action at Chowk Mehta on the 20th of September 1981 (it was carried through Awtar Singh Atwal, D.I.G. Punjab Police, which led to killing of several Sikhs); in 1982 he was replaced by S.K. Tripathi who planned murders of the Hindus as well as burning of 47 railway stations; after accomplishing his ‘job’ he returned to Delhi on the 3rd of May 1984.
Now, Indira Gandhi began preparations for attack on Darbar Sahib; but before this invasion she began another era of violence. Her ‘Third Agency’ created atmosphere for multi-way violence: (1) Killings by the Police and the C.R.P.F., (2) Killings of the Sikhs in Haryana (under patronage of Bhajan Lal, the then chief minister of Haryana); (3) Terrorist actions by fanatic Hindus terrorist groups (4) Clandestine murders; and on the other side (1) provoke and promote demonstrations and disturbances in the name of the Akalis; (2) create situation to make Sikh leaders issue aggressive and provocative statements; (3) manoeuvre promotion of disdain and enmity among various Sikh groups, both political and militants; (4) clandestine killings of the militants to be attributed to the Akalis or rival militant groups: i.e. the state of ushering civil war among the Sikhs; hence chaos in the Sikh world.
The Indian Army assigned job of attack on Darbar Sahib
In the summer of 1983, Indira Gandhi asked Lt General S. K. Sinha, then vice-chief of the Indian Army to prepare a position paper for an assault on Darbar Sahib; but, when he strongly advised her against taking such a step; as a result he was transferred to Army Headquarters; later, he chose to seek pre-mature retirement. Now Arun Shridhar Vaidya was appointed the Chief of Army with Lt. General Krishna Swamy Sunderji (General Officer Commander in chief of the Western Command) as vice Chief. In September 1983, Indira Gandhi asked Vaidya and Sunderji to prepare a position paper for an attack on Darbar sahib and he agreed immediately; it (position paper) was ready by the end of December 1983; Indira Gandhi studied it for two weeks and, on the Indian Army Day, on the 15th of January 1984, she gave final instructions to General Sunderji to make preparations for attack.
In the third week of January 1984, a commando force of 600 soldiers was selected from different units of the Indian Army; they were sent to make rehearsals for an assault on Darbar Sahib Complex, and, for this purpose a life size replica of the Darbar Sahib complex was built in the hills of Chakrata (near Dehradun), about 240 kilometres from Delhi. In January 1984, after accomplishment of the mission of practice of mock attack on Darbar Sahib Complex, Indira Gandhi was briefed about the completion of the preparations for attack; between February and May 1984 Indira Gandhi alerted the Army three times but each time she vetoed the invasion; ‘a case of nerves’ as per a senior aide.
As mentioned in the previous chapter, the Third Agency had escalated violence in the Punjab in order to justify an attack on Darbar Sahib; in 1981 there occurred just 28 incidents of violence in the Punjab, in 1982 the number was just 33; in 1983 when the Third Agency began its action for final round the number of incidents of violence rose to 138 but after this when the Commandos had completed their mock battle in Chakrata hill, number of incidents of violence began rising, and, just in five month (from the 27th of January to the 2nd of June 1984) 364 incidents of violence took place; of these 22 occurred in the first two days of June although the army had already taken positions in the Punjab on the 31st of May; even out of the incidents 90% were of frivolous nature hence of no significance; after Indira Gandhi gave the first order (which was postponed) to attack Darbar Sahib, incidents of violence increased with high speed so that attack on Darbar Sahib may be fully justified. Thus the activities of the Third Agency and political manoeuvring of Indira Gandhi outwitted not only hazy minded Akalis but also the Hindus and the other political Parties. Indira Gandhi never disclosed her hidden aims, all this time. Indira Gandhi Government kept on repeating that Armed Forces will not enter Golden Temple Complex.
Though Indira Gandhi had made all preparations for attack on Darbar Sahib but as a drama she continued having dialogue with the Akalis; she had performed this ‘drama’ several times earlier too; during Tri-Party Talks ‘three times in six months an agreement was reached and three times she backed out’; she again backed out when Swaran Singh tried to mediate; she uses dilly-dallying tactics when the ‘Punjabi Group’ came up with a ‘formula’ in April 1984; in fact ‘Mrs Gandhi had other intentions’; even Ravinder Singh Ravi, a professor of Punjabi University, tried to mediate; his efforts too met with almost similar treatment; none of them knew that Indira Gandhi was just playing drama of negotiations, she had already planned to attack Darbar Sahib and cash the Sikh Card to capture a big junk of Hindu votes.
The last drama of show of negotiations with the Akalis was played from March to May 1984; the Akali leaders met the Government delegations on the 27th, 28th and 29th of March, on the 21st of April and on the 26th of May, the last meeting took place on the 27th of May 1984; in the final meeting an agreement was reached with the Akalis and they were told that the same will be ‘announced after getting approval from Madam’; in fact this was just a drama because on that day (the 27th of May) orders had already been issued to the Indian Army to proceed towards Amritsar (an advance party of the Indian Army had taken positions around Darbar Sahib on the 30th of May).
Before finally attacking Darbar Sahib, Indira Gandhi had prepared ground; a mutual distrust had already been created between the Sikhs and the Hindus; the Sikhs were been projected as anti Hindu, killers of Hindus, as well as separatist, Khalistanis, anti-nationalists, ‘agents of Pakistan’, traitors, extremists (attvaadi/ dahishatgarad), fundamentalist, fanatics etc. The Government media, the A.I.R., T.V. were presenting the militants as the ‘Sikh terrorists’; and this hate-propaganda was so aggressive that not only the B.J.P. but even the other non-communal Opposition Parties, including both Communist Parties, vied each other in condemning and denigrating Sikhs and demanding a military action against Bhindranwala particularly and Darbar Sahib generally; Atal Bihari Vajpayee, L.K. Advani, Chowdhry Charan Sinh, Shiv Sena, Hindu Suraksha Samiti, Shiv Sena, Bajrang Brigade, Vishav Hindu Prishad, Arya Samaj all spoke in the same language; they were so ignorant that they could not read the mind of the notorious and mischievous woman; it is surprising that Harkishan Surjeet (of the C.P.M.), too sailed in the same boat in spite of the fact that he himself had been a part and parcel of negotiating team and he knew that it was Indira Gandhi who was the real culprit as she did not want a political solution and she had ‘other intentions.’
Execution of attack on Darbar Sahib
Army takes over the reins of the Punjab
Indira Gandhi issued orders for attack on Darbar Sahib under the code name of ‘Operation Blue Star’; on the 27th of May 1984 the troops left for Amritsar by rail, road and even by air; five Corps of Army (the 1st, the 2nd, the 10th, the 11th, and the 15th) had reached the Punjab on the 30th of May and the Army was still on the move. On the 31st of May, a meeting of the operating generals was held at Chandimandir (near Chandigarh) at the headquarters of ‘Core 2’ unit of the Indian Army; it was attended by officers of the Army, Air Force and Navy which included Lt. General K. Sunderji, K.S. Brar, R.S. Dyal and others; Sunderji had been Commander of a regiment in the Indo-Pak War of 1965, R.S. Dyal had been a Major of a Parachute Regiment in the same War. This meeting discussed and planned to attack and occupy Darbar Sahib in just 24 hours; the whole ‘action’ was broadly divided into two parts: attack on Darbar Sahib (under code ‘Operation Blue Star’) and sealing of border between India and Pakistan (‘Operation Wood Rose’); operation of the sealing of the border was assigned to 11 Core Unit, Lt. General K. Gauri Shankar was the chief of this ‘Operation’.
Indira Gandhi’s broadcast from the A.I.R.:
Though Indira Gandhi had ordered attack on Darbar Sahib but she was scared; right from the 27th of May 1984, when she had signed final orders, she had been nervous, her behaviour had turned queer, her voice choked all these days; during this period she had called a closed-door meeting of Congress activists from all over India, and, on the 2nd of June 1984, “when she walked up to the platform she appeared to be limping; her shoulders were hunched; she looked dishevelled; her face was drawn; she choked as she spoke; it looked like if someone in her family had died”.
A few hours later, in the late hours of the evening of the 2nd of June, Indira Gandhi made an unscheduled broadcast from the A.I.R.; in her broadcast she blamed the Akalis for not having reached agreement(which was a lie as it was she who backed out at least three times); she stated that she had accepted all the demands of the Akalis i.e. sale of tobacco, liquor and meat had been banned in demarcated area in the walled city of Amritsar (this too was lie), consultations were being made for an All India Gurdwara Act (this was just a gossip), a Tribunal headed by a Supreme Court Judge was being constituted to decide distribution of water dispute (the Akalis had demanded that the case should be decided by the Supreme Court and not a Tribunal, but, she did not trust the Supreme Court), a Commission was being appointed to decide the issue of Chandigarh, Abohar, Fazilka and other Punjabi or Hindi speaking areas (this was a blatant lie), Sarkaria Commission has been appointed to submit its report on Centre-State relations (only this part was true; but Sarkaria Commission had been appointed on the 24th of March 1983 i.e. more than 14 months earlier). She said that the Government had accepted their demands but they were raising fresh demands all the time (this too was a lie), and, they have announced launching of a non cooperation Movement from the 3rd of June. In the end she played another drama by saying: ‘Even at this late hour, I appeal to the Akali leaders to call off their threatened agitation and accept the framework of peaceful settlement which we have offered. She ended her speech with the words “Don’t shedblood, shed hatred”; it was like devil giving sermons because when she was speaking from the A.I.R. the Indian Army had already taken positions around Darbar Sahib three days earlier to that and had also surrounded more than 70 Gurdwaras and had been firing at Darbar Sahib for the past two days; and it (Indian Army) was ready to play with ‘blood’ and dissipate and practice ‘hatred’. Commenting upon this Kuldip Nayyar observed: ‘How could she first order military operation and then suggest negotiations? And even if the Akalis were ready to talk, how could they contact her, all the telephones had been cut off.’
(turning text into bold and Italic letters is my action – author).
Events Relating to Attack on Darbar Sahib
On the 2nd of June 1984, the Indian Army sealed all the international border, from Ganganagar in Rajasthan to Jammu; several army tanks, a large number of army trucks and Armed Personnel Carriers (A.P.C.) as well as other Army vehicles with a large quantity of weapons were seen everywhere in the Punjab and on the international border.
The same day, formalities of takeover by the Army were performed; the Army set up Command Headquarter in the Police Kotwali (about 300 metres from Darbar Sahib), the ‘Armed Group’ of the 350 Infantry Brigade, which was to guide ‘Operation’ (it was to act under the command of K.S. Brar), was stationed here, at the top floor of this building; and this office was direct on line with the Central Government’s Control Room at Delhi which was under the overall command of Indira and Rajiv Gandhi assisted by Arun Nehru, Arun Sinh, and K. P. Sinh Deo (Deputy Defence Minister). The same day, R. S. Dayal (Chief of Staff Western Command) took over as the Advisor Security to the Governor of the Punjab; and, with this all the telecommunication, postal services and rail and bus transport was taken over or suspended by the Army; the Punjab Police had now virtually no role as they were just to obey orders of the Army; by the evening the Army had been posted on all the key positions: the railway stations, bus stands and all the transport, telecommunication towers and their offices, bridges and roads, canals and rivers, administration and public services; now all the infra structure in the Punjab was under the command of the Indian Army; all the foreign citizens were ordered to leave the Punjab.
As per planning the attack was to begin early in the morning of the 4th of June 1984; frontal attack on Akal Takht was to be made by specially trained commandos of the Parachute Regiment from 1st battalion, wearing black denims with bullet-proof vests; they were to be followed by the 10 Guards and the 12 Bihar Corps; they were to be assisted by 26 Madras and 9 Kumaon. The 12 Bihar Corps had already taken positions around Darbar Sahib, right in the morning of the 3rd of June. As per planning the whole ‘Operation’ was to be completed in thirty-six hours; hence, on the 3rd of June, at 9 p.m., a thirty-six hour curfew (later extended for another thirty-six hours) was imposed in the whole of the Punjab; and, in and around Darbar Sahib, electricity and water services were disconnected.
On the other hand, when the electricity was disconnected General Subeg Singh understood that the attack would begin within hours so he assigned duties to the defending Sikh volunteers whose number was between 100 and 125; they took positions in the basement of Akal Takht, in and around the Parikarma(periphery), at the Ghanta Ghar (clock tower) gate of Darbar Sahib; the Babar Khalsa group took positions at the top of Ramgarhia Bunga (two eighteen century towers on the corner of Darbar Sahib) and on the water tank (in side Guru Ram Dass Saran) and the tower of Baba Atal Gurdwara.
The Launching of the Invasion by the Indian Army
In the morning of the 4th of June, the Army was assigned job like this: (a) North-west zone of Darbar Sahib Complex (Ghanta Ghar to Akal Takht) = one Infantry Unit, one Para Commandos, one Company Special Border Force [S.S.F.] (b) Darbar Sahib itself = one unit (c) South-east zone of Darbar Sahib Complex (Ata Mandi, Sikh Reference Library, Baba Atal, Manji Sahib) = one Infantry Battalion (d) reserve for all these three = one Infantry Battalion (e) siege of Darbar Sahib = one Infantry Battalion.
On that day, there were more than five thousand Sikhs inside Darbar Sahib; it being the anniversary of the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Sahib, people from the whole of the Punjab and even other places had gone there to make obeisance; a thousand strong jatha, which was to court arrest the following day had also arrived; besides some Bangla Deshis, who were to board a train to Pakistan the following day, had also gone to Darbar Sahib for meals and night stay.
On the night of the 3rd of June the Army had forcibly taken over ‘Braham Buta Akhara’ and ‘Temple View Hotel’; and these were, later, used for the Operation.
At 4.40 a.m. the final assault of the ‘Operation’ began; first of all the Army attacked the water tank (inside Guru Ram Dass Saran) and the ‘Ramgarhia Bunga’ (two towers of the eighteenth century) with 106 M.M. cannon, 25 pounder 3.7 inch Howitzers guns, mortars and 3.7 Howell guns, LMG and MMG guns; which blasted the water tank and the upper part of the Ramgarhia Bunga, killing all those who had taken positions there; their bodies fling off in pieces all around; thus this front was won by the Army without any battle. Bombardment of the Army was so savage that not a single person, including the defending militants and the pilgrims staying there to spend night, survived this savage attack.
Now the Army dropped its specially trained parachute commandos through helicopters; however all of them were killed even before kanding; some of them even drowned in the Amritsar (tank). The Army had not expected it so the generals were greatly shocked.
After this, 50 specially trained commandos of the ‘10 Guard’ unit moved towards ‘Ghanta Ghar entrance’ of the Darbar Sahib complex; most of them were immediately killed and the rest were wounded (among the wounded was also Jasbir Raina who, a day earlier, had gone to Darbar Sahib to collect sensitive information; later one of his legs had to be imputed; he remained handicapped for the rest of his life). When this batch of the commandos too had been eliminated, Para Commandos and the S.S.F. took their place to move towards Akal Takht. Hundreds of soldiers, in batches of 25 each, tried to reach Akal Takht so that they should throw poisonous gas canisters and ‘stun bombs’ inside the Takht building to kill or make unconscious the Sikhs present there; but none of them could proceed even a few metres towards Akal Takht; all of them were killed; some of them tried to proceed by crawling but they too were killed by a machinegun which the Sikh fighters had set on the floor; by noon hundreds of soldiers had been killed and there was not even 10% success; the whole passage between Ghanta Ghar and Akal Takht was full of dead bodies of the soldiers of the India Army. After this the Army began throwing gas shells but as the direction of the wind was towards the Army, it rather boomeranged and harmed the Army. As per an army officer, who was commanding a part of this operation, ‘when all the army commandos trying to proceed towards the building of Akal Takht were cut down by militants, on the night of the 5th of June the military operation had to be temporarily suspended because of disaster.’
Deployment of tanks to blow off the building of Akal Takht
By this time (at 2 a.m. on the 6th of June), Brigadier A. K. Diwan (nickname Chikki) reached at the Sikh Reference Library; K. S. Brar assigned him command of 26 Mardras, 15 Kumaon and 9 Garhwal and directed him to target only Akal Takht; within half an hour this group began its action; hundreds of shells were fired but the Indian Army could not advance even a centimetre; and the losses of the Army were very high. At this Diwan and Brar decided to bring in tanks; Brar contacted Sunderji, the Chief of ‘Blue Star Operation’ on walkie-talkie who further the got approval of Indira Gandhi through General Vaidya, the Chief of the Indian Army. Between 2.30 and 3 a.m. the first tank was brought from the side of Guru Ram Das Saran; it was 38 Ton Vijayanta Tank fitted with 105 mm heavy guns. This tank entered the periphery of Darbar Sahib and threw search light at Akal Takht and began heavy shelling with 105 mm guns; it was supported by guns of the Army units which had taken positions on the roofs of the buildings of both Ghanta Ghars but, this action cold not continue long because the wires of the bulb of the search light got fused after one minute; now the Army brought in another tank; this too met the same fate; then a third tank was also brought in. At that time it was dark and the helicopter helped the Army in identifying the targets for attack. “The helicopters hovered above and continued to fire from above. Some of the helicopters also guided the firing squads of the Army by making a circle of light around the targets. Immediately after these circles, the cannon balls would land on the targets causing havoc. We saw a large number of boys blown to pieces.” 
The tanks could not give the expected results; now Polish built eight-wheeled mechanised carriers ‘Armoured Personnel Carriers’ (A.P.C.) and cannons were brought in; to bring them into the periphery the stairs of the entrance to the periphery had to be blasted with the help of another tank because the Scott could not have crossed these stairs.
By this time, shells of 84 mm of Carl Gustav (of Sweden) guns were being showered at the building of Akal Takht. Now some commandos of the 15 Kumaon, seated in an A.P.C., tried to proceed towards Akal Takht; all this time rockets of the Army continued shelling Akal Takht so that the Army may get the shield from the attacks by the militants; but, then an anti-tank shell, thrown by the militants, fell upon this A.P.C. and it got jammed there and then.
Now, Brar got orders from Indira Gandhi to totally blast Akal Takht building with the help of the tanks; at 5.10 a.m. Indira Gandhi called General A. S. Vaidya, the Chief Commander of Army, and after consulting him she gave permission for this action too (she had not slept for the past two days); having got ‘go ahead’ from Vaidya and Indira Gandhi, at 5.21 a.m. the army began constant shelling of the Takht building; within hours one third of the building had disappeared but still there was heavy confrontation. From the other side, at about 5.45 a.m., Major B.K. Mishra of the Commando Company, succeeded in reaching near the stairs of the Akal Takht; the militants had in fact not attacked them deliberately and allowed them to proceed and when they reached there all of them were killed. Even by 6.20 a.m. on the 6th of June, the Indian Army had achieved nothing but deaths and destruction.
At about 6.20 a.m. Subedar K.P. Raman Ravi and some of his commandos too reached near the Akal Takht; the militants let them to continue moving ahead, but when they reached the stairs, the militants pounced upon them and took them inside the basement of Akal Takht and tied a bomb on the body of Raman and blasted his body; the rest too were killed.
At 7.30 a.m. the Indian army again began shelling the building of Akal Takht; about 80 squash-head shells of 105 mm were fired at the Takht; this action continued till 11.30 a.m.; but, in spite of this the Army could not reach near the Takht. In the night, the biggest battle began; to quote an eye witness: “At about 9 p.m. on 6 June, entire city of 700,000 was plunged into darkness by a powerful outrage. Half an hour later, Amritsar was shaken by powerful shelling, mortar explosions and machine-gun fire. The big battle had begun. Half the city was on rooftops watching the battle. Tracer bullets and flares lit up the crescent moon sky. The explosion at Golden Temple rattled doors and windows miles away. While the battle was raging, the state run radio claimed that the city was ‘calm’.”
To quote an eye-witness account: “From my vantage point I could see some of the army trucks and jeeps mounted with the guns moving. On Monday evening, rumbled in the tanks. The hotel staff, who had little to do, also watched the gun battles from time to time during the three days and three nights that I spent up on the terrace. So fierce was the firing that the crescends created by the vast quantities of ammunition expended became almost deafening at times. This was especially so when the tanks opened fire. Like a clap of thunder, the sound reverberated across the thousands of houses making little children cry and women shriek. Stray bullets whistled past overhead and we had often to duck or take shelter behind the tanks. I collected some used bullets as ‘souvenirs’. At night, the burst of fire from a variety of guns, including 25 pounders, lit up the sky over Amritsar. The bullets and other ammunition sped in every direction, forming patterns of red streaks.”
In spite of using tanks, helicopters, and the world’s renowned latest top-most guns, the mighty Indian Army had not been able to reach near the building of Akal Takht. According to the correspondent of the Suday times London, 15000 troops took part in the assault, 35000 standing by to put down any possible internal rebellion; it further says: ‘Not even in the more ruthless days of the Empire (English Empire in India) had the army been used to storm such an important religious building’; besides the number of the defenders was not more one hundred and fifty; and such a small number of defenders of the Darbar Sahib did not allow the mighty Army to win a few hectares of land for four long days; it is perhaps the greatest battle of the world history.’
Another historical fact of this battle is that in this battle the Indian Army used more ammunition than it had used at any front, in the earlier wars (1965 and 1971 Indo-Pak War and 1962 Indo-China war); probably, in no battle, for the occupation of one small complex, so much ammunition was used throughout the history of the battles of the world. It was one of the great historic unequal battle in the history of world in which, on one side there were about one hundred defenders against fifteen thousand strong force (with another fifty thousand reserve forces as stand by); the former had just a small quantity of guns whereas the invaders had helicopters, tanks, most modern army vehicles, guns, canons, latest ammunition with endless quantity; the defenders fought without eating or drinking anything whereas the invading army had full supplies of everything; it was unequal battle perhaps the greatest event of military history of the world.
The Greatest Battle of Resistance in History
About fifty thousand soldiers of the Indian Aramy, known as the ‘third greatest army of the world’, with all its three wings (Army, Air Force and Navy), fully equipped with helicopters, tanks, cannons, guns and unlimited ammunition as well as all sorts of provisions, and with endless supply of everything and other facilities, attacked Darbar Sahib Complex to capture just 444 square feet area; and, on the other hand, just a few ordinary Sikhs, around 125, who did not have even proper training to fire guns, and had nothing to eat or drink and no back up or supply for all the period of battle, without having a wink of sleep for more than seventy-two hours, resisted such a mammoth army for more than three days; hence this was perhaps the greatest battle of resistance in the history of the world.
How Many Persons were killed by the Indian Army?
The Government of India’s ‘White Paper’ (which is just a bundle of lies) claims that 83 soldiers and 493 Sikhs were killed in the Army attack; it also mentions that 59 persons died or were injured in other Gurdwaras. It is intriguing that a Government is not willing to tell truth about the casualties. The non-official accounts mention the number of the casualties between three and eight thousand; according to Jasbir Singh Sarna 1208 soldiers and 122 Sikh defenders were killed; besides the Army killed 3228 Sikh pilgrims too; the Government also claimed that 287 soldiers and 121 Sikhs were wounded, whereas according to Sarna, the number of the wounded soldiers was around 3000, whereas 12 Sikh defenders and 1526 Sikh pilgrims and Bangladeshis, who were staying there to board train the following day too had been wounded; similarly, according to this source, the number of Sikhs arrested (mostly pilgrims) was 1592 from Darbar Sahib and 796 from other Gurdwaras and 2324 from other places in the Punjab (a total of 4712).
The number of the Sikhs killed was so high due to two reasons: 1. “The army which had suffered a heavy toll in the three days battle went berserk and killed every Sikh to be found inside the temple complex. They were hauled out of the rooms, brought to corridors in the circumference of the temple and, with hands tied to their backs, they were shot dead in cold blood. Among the victims were many old men, women and children.” 2. “The Army might have been operating under ‘take-no-prisoners’ order.”In other words the Indian Army had perpetrated brutalities on innocent persons, several of them were children. It belies the statement by K. Sunderji, the Chief of this ‘Operation’ who shamefully lied that “We went inside the premises of Golden Temple Complex with humility in our hearts and prayers on our lips”; whereas the truth is that having suffered heavy losses the Indian Army behaved even ordinary Sikh passengers as a savage animal who would pounce upon a lamb.
Women and Children killed in cold blood
Chellany has reported that at Jalandhar, doctors had been rounded up and taken to Amritsar to conduct post mortem examination of civilians killed inside Darbar Sahib. “A doctor corroborated what I had been told by a deputy police superintendent in Amritsar that several of the slain Sikh militants were shot by troops with their hand tied at the back. The doctor, whose team examined four hundred corpses, including a hundred women and fifteen to twenty children, said he conducted post-mortems of several Sikhs whose hands were tied at the back with their turban cloth.”
Honouring Brutal Soldiers
During the attack on Darbar Sahib, the Indian Army had behaved as brutal enemies; no warnings, no attempts to save innocent pilgrims, indiscriminate killings, inhuman treatment with the dead, no handing over the dead to their relatives, keeping no records of the dead, burning of bodies without identification, cremating the dead bodies by pouring kerosene oil and petrol on them, perpetrating atrocities on the arrested Sikhs by keeping them in small cells without water and thus killing several of them, killing those prisoners who begged for water (this being the hottest month of the year), detaining babies and children (for months) were among the great ‘achievements’ of the Indian Army. What the Indian Army did had no parallels in the world history; most ferocious invaders had not behaved in such savage manner; still the Indian Government presented these inhuman soldiers and generals with gallantry Awards, honours, decoration strips, promotions etc for their ‘heroic acts’; this special ‘Award Ceremony’ was performed on the 10th of July 1985. It is amazing to note that the Indian Government had not honoured the brave soldiers who had performed acts of chivalry during the battles of 1962, 1965 and 1971; honouring of those who had perpetrated atrocities on its own people and had crossed all the limits of inhuman acts was shocking and shameful; however it exposed the Sikh-hatred of the Indian regime; further shocking is that these ‘Awards’ were given by Sikh looking President; so devoid of self respect he was!
Why This Day was especially Chosen?
The Indian Government knew that the 4th of June 1984 was the anniversary of the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Sahib, the founder of the Darbar Sahib (and son of the founder of the city of Amritsar) hence thousands of Sikhs, from various parts of the Punjab and other places, were sure to visit to make obeisance; the Government chose this day especially so as to show the world that the number of the militants was so high. Even if we accept that the Army did not know about these two points still, on the first of June, several senior officials of the Army had taken a round of the Darbar Sahib on their ‘spying mission’ and had observed that the number of the visitor there was always in thousands; they could have given an ultimatum to the visitors to come out (the Army could arrest and investigate their credentials to separate militants from ordinary visitors); no such ultimatum was given, no announcement was made, no offer to surrender was made; on the other hand there is ample evidence that those who surrendered were indiscriminately killed by the Army because it (Army) did not want arrests; hence liquidations. There is ample evidence that the soldiers went around the Guru Ram Das Saran (hostel for the visitors) as well as in the rooms in the parikarma (periphery) and threw hand grenades in every room killing whosoever was there;more than one thousand Sikhs were killed in such actions.
Babies and Children sent to Jails
The Indian Army killed thousands of pilgrims who had gone to Darbar Sahib to make obeisance, some of them were carrying infants or were accompanied by small children; several children were killed when the soldiers threw hand-grenades in every room of the Darbar Sahib Complex but those who still survived were taken into custody and sent to jails; these children were aged between two and twelve; 39 of these children were kept in Ludhiana Jail; and these innocent babies who had been branded as ‘terrorists’ were graded in three categories: very dangerous, dangerous and potentially dangerous. These children had no one to attend, the elder (twelve years old) would console the two years old babies; however they did get food (whatsoever its standard) in jail, every day there were tears and cries, the children begged to be sent home to their parents (they did not know that their parents had been killed and cremated by the Army).
As per the Indian laws no child under the age of sixteen can be arrested or lodged in a jail or detained in a police station; this is categorically prohibited under the Children Act 1960 and the East Punjab Act 1976 but these acts were not applicable to the Sikh children; the Army, the jail authorities, the C.B.I. refused to bother for these Acts or the Human Rights Conventions; when the Human Rights organisations brought this inhuman treatment of babies, the Government officials, including the Governor, did not bother; perhaps for them the Sikhs had no human rights. Finally, when Kamla Devi Chattopadhya, a philanthropist social worker, approached the Supreme Court, these children were released under court orders; even here, the Jail Superintendent tried to ditch the Court order, some of them were transferred to Nabha Jail who could not released at that time and languished in jails for several more years; when released, some of them had become physical and mental wrecks.
Plundering of the Sikh Achieves
By the evening of the 5th of June 1984, the India Army had completely occupied the whole North-East (Braham Buta Akhara to Guru Ram Das Saran) and South-East (Guru Ram Das Saran to Ghanta Ghar on the South of Darbar Sahib, including Baba Atal); and it was from the roof of the Sikh Reference Library that the Indian Army was observing the scenario of Akal Takht. At that time the Library was locked; the Indian Army broke open the lock and took possession of it. On the 7th of June, when the Army had occupied Akal Takht too, it ordered 200 new boxes in which all the precious and rare books, manuscripts, relics, rare newspapers etc were packed; besides there were hundreds of handwritten volumes of Guru Granth Sahib, some of which were as old as from seventeenth century, were also packed and taken away. After this the wooden racks and newspapers of contemporary period were set on fire and, later, it (Army) announced that the Library caught fire in cross-firing; this fact was denied by Davinder Singh Duggal, in charge of the Library, who was present in the adjoining quarter, which was his residence. The Army took away the precious achieves with it which remained at Merrut Cantonment for some time; it was never returned to the Sikhs (at least up to the end of 2011). The Army carried away not only the Sikh Reference Library but also all the papers, account books, proceedings and other records of the S.G.P.C. and the Akali Dal and these too were never returned.
Cremation of (in fact insult to) the dead-bodies
The total loss of life in this Army attack was around than 6000, out of which more than 1200 were the soldiers of the Indian Army; funeral of the soldiers was conducted by their respective units. On the other hand, the authorities did not bother to identify or even to record the number of the casualties on the Sikh side. “When General Dyer killed people in Jallianwala Bagh, the dead bodies were given to their relatives but strangely our own Army killed our own people and did not return the bodies to their relatives.” To dispose of the dead bodies of the Sikhs the Army tried to engage first some truck-cleaners and other labour but when they refused, the sweepers were engaged to carry the dead bodies to the cremation ground but as the bodies had been lying there for the past two or more days, hence decomposed and stinking; at first the sweepers refused even to touch them, but when the Army supplied them bottles of rum and big sum of money they agreed. Some of them had made tidy fortunes in the bargain. As most of the dead-bodies had become highly discomposed, when the sweepers carried them to the trucks, limbs fell down and flesh came into their hands; as a result they collected fallen limbs in turbans and dupattas (scarves) of the dead Sikhs, and put these pieces in garbage-carrying vessels, buckets and stretchers and loaded them into the garbage trolleys; everywhere pieces of flesh and pools of blood, at places even ankle-deep congealed blood, created a grotesque scene. After this these bodies were taken to Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital for post mortem; first doctors expressed their in ability to perform autopsy but when threatened of dire consequences they had to make formalities of post-mortem as an eye-wash; they faced big problem in performing; post-mortem of decomposed bodies; and, after this, these dead-bodies were again loaded in garbage trolleys like dead animals and taken to the nearby Chatiwind Crematorium where these were burnt by pouring kerosene oil, diesel and petrol on them because there was not enough wood to burn them. As the dead-bodies had been decomposing for three days the stench of the decomposed bodies and their burning with kerosene oil remained in the air for several weeks.
To quote Chellany: “I visited the main city crematory on 9 and 11 June to check the fatality toll in the Golden Temple assault. Strangely while there were troops everywhere in the city, there were none at the crematrory. The ‘army probably thinks that the ghosts would take care of intruders’, said the man on duty at crematrorium. He and the police official, who were given charge of removing the dead from the temple complex, said bodies were being brought in municipal garbage trucks round the clock since early 6 June; ‘we have been really busy; to add to our woes, we don’t have enough wood to burn the dead, and we have been cremating them in heaps of twenty or more’, said the crematory official.”
Near the Golden Temple I saw an estimated 50 corpses in a rubbish lorry that had sewage still smeared on its outer body. From the back of the grey truck, at least two masculine legs were sticking out and from the left one could see the hanging forehead and the long flowing hair on an apparently un-turbanned Sikh. As I peeped into the truck from the back, I could see dead bodies of at least two women and a child. That night it was difficult to sleep. I kept thinking of the dead bodies.”
According to a soldier (who had actually participated in attack on Darbar Sahib) some of the dead bodies of the Sikhs were even thrown into the rivers Raavi and Beas: “On the morning of June 6, the Golden Temple Complex was like a graveyard. Bodies lay all around in buildings, on the parikarma and in the sarovar. The Sun was shining and stench from bodies was becoming unbearable. Dead bodies of Jawans were identified and hand over to their respective regiments. I myself carried the bodies of three soldiers on my shoulders. Each regiment conducted the funeral rites of their various Jawans. The civilians, who died, about 1500 of them, were piled in trolleys and carried away. A lot of them were thrown into the rivers. The battle was a tragic one. I could not eat anything. Food made me sick. I used to drink lots of rum and go to sleep.”
This soldier’s confession of drinking of a lot of rum is confirmed by the fact that all the soldiers of the Indian Army who joined attack on Darbar Sahib were give regular supply of whiskey; as per records of the Army Canteens in the Punjab, the Army bought seven hundred thousand bottles of rum, thirty thousand halves (of bottles) of whisky, sixty thousand halves of brandy and sixty thousand beer bottles. The soldiers were also supplied thousands of packs of cigarettes too; the soldiers were seen openly smoking in the Darbar Sahib complex.