31 YEARS AGO TODAY: THE DAY INDIA WENT TO WAR WITH ITS OWN CITIZENS..
June 5th at 5:15pm:
Sikh political leaders Longowal and Tohra, receive a message from the Deputy Superintendent of Police in Amritsar that anybody who wants to leave the temple complex, should do so by 17:30 (in 15 minutes). The leaders replied that it would be impossible to evacuate the large number of pilgrims – men, women and children, scattered in small pockets all over the complex. While the message was still being delivered to the DSP, the firing restarts with a greater intensity than before.
Earlier in the day, the Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar requested that the army provide one telephone connection to the temple, so he could co-ordinate the evacuation of the pilgrims from the complex. The army refuses this request.
June 5th at 10:30pm:
A team of Commandos enters the Harmandir Sahib complex via the clock tower entrance and charges towards the Akal Takht. Coming under heavy fire, they are forced back to the clock tower, due to taking many casualties. The commando’s are supported by the 10 Guards in their second attempt to reach the Akal Takht but both units are hit hard and have to retreat.
13 Army tank and dozen armourd personnel carriers Smash their way into the Complex.
Amrik Singh, the Blind, 65 – year old head ragi shot dead within Darbar Sahib itself
Battles rage in other parts of the Harmandir Sahib complex, another unit of the Indian Army (15th Kumaon) approaches the Akal Takht from the Sarai’s (rest houses for pilgrims and visitors). The 15th Kumaon are pinned back by the young Sikh defenders who have taken to arms in defence of this unprovoked attack on the place they hold most sacred in their hearts. To be continued….
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