Re­mem­ber­ing Op­er­a­tion Blue Star

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIAL & COMMENTS - Dr Muham­mad Khan Email: drmk_edu@ya­

DR Gur­nam Signh, a pro­fes sor in the Coven­try Univer sity, United King­dom draws par­al­lels be­tween Op­er­a­tion Blue Star and Nor­mandy Land­ing (Op­er­a­tion Nep­tune and Op­er­a­tion Over­lord) in his col­umn, “30 Years af­ter Op­er­a­tion Blue Star, Where Do Sikh Go from Here”. Both op­er­a­tions took place on June 6 and both have heavy troops par­tic­i­pa­tion. More over both were im­ple­mented in two stages and were against the cul­ture and races. Dr Gur­nam Singh de­scribes that, on June 6, 1984, the In­dian Army right in their sa­cred shrine at­tacked Sikhs. In his word­ings, “6th June 1984 “we wit­nessed the en­act­ment of another mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion, and like D-Day, the op­er­a­tion in­volved some 150,000 troops, but with one sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ence; on this oc­ca­sion, the fight was not to de­feat fas­cism, but the In­dian Army in­vad­ing a holy place and killing thou­sands of its own cit­i­zens.” In­dian of­fi­cial fig­ures of the ca­su­al­ties dur­ing this grand op­er­a­tion are less than 1000, how­ever, in­de­pen­dent sources es­ti­mates more than 20,000 peo­ple mostly in­no­cent Sikhs lost their lives dur­ing op­er­a­tion Blue Star. Ac­cord­ing to SGPC, there were over 10,000 pairs of shoes un­claimed af­ter the at­tack on Golden Tem­ple.

Like the Nor­mandy Land­ing, In­dian Army Op­er­a­tion against Golden Tem­ple was in two stages. In first stage; Op­er­a­tion Blue Star, a full scale mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion was launched against Dar­bar Sahib (Golden Tem­ple) in Ar­mit­sar. In four days, Dar­bar Sahib was to­tally ru­ined. Dar­bar Sahib is the Shrine of over 30 mil­lion Sikhs all around the world. Stage two was the “Op­er­a­tion Wood Rose”. Dur­ing this stage, In­dian Army at­tacked over 50 his­tor­i­cal Gur­d­waras all around in East Pun­jab with a man­date to; “round up am­rid­hari (bap­tised) Sikh boys and men of fight­ing age and take them into cus­tody.” And in next few weeks, thou­sands of the Sikhs were ar­rested and im­pris­oned, where they were tor­tured and killed in­hu­manly. The lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional me­dia was banned for months in East Pun­jab to re­port the Sikh’s mas­sacre in the area.

On Oc­to­ber 31, 1984, the killing of for­mer In­dian Prime Min­is­ter, Indira Gandhi by her two Sikh guards was in­deed a re­tal­i­a­tion of the Sikh’s mas­sacre, un­leashed af­ter June 2, 1984. Later In­dian Army Chief (Gen­eral Arun Shrid­har Vaidya), who led the op­er­a­tion Blue Star was also as­sas­si­nated in 1986 in Pune by two Sikhs, Har­jin­der Singh Jinda and Sukhdev Singh Sukha. Both events were vengeance by Sikhs, since the op­er­a­tion against the Dar­bar Sa­haib was or­dered by Ms Gandhi, who de­spite re­fusal by then Vice Chief of In­dian Army launched the mil­i­tary op­er­a­tion. What hap­pened af­ter the as­sas­si­na­tion of Ms Indira Gandhi, it is a hor­ror and a real black spot over the In­dian sec­u­lar­ism and democ­racy?

Ac­cord­ing to neu­tral sources, within first four days, over 10,000 in­no­cent Sikhs hav­ing no link­ages with at­tack on Ms Gandhi were killed mer­ci­lessly (mostly burnt alive) in New Delhi only. This was un­der the eyes of global lead­ers, who came from all over to at­tend the fu­neral of Ms Gandhi. The killing of Sikhs af­ter Op­er­a­tion Blue Star was not com­mu­nal ri­ots, as In­dian of­fi­cials and In­dian Gov­ern­ment claimed. In­deed, it was a well planned and sys­temic se­ries of at­tacks on Sikh com­mu­nity all over the India. This can be de­rived from the state­ment of Ra­jeev Gandhi, the son of Ms Indira Gandhi, who once asked about the Sikh’s mas­sacre af­ter as­sas­si­na­tion of her mother said that, ““when a big tree falls the ground does shake.” In the fol­low­ing years of Ms Gandhi killing, the In­dian se­cu­rity forces killed over 100,000 in­no­cent Sikhs tak­ing cover of cruel and in­hu­man Ter­ror­ist and Dis­rup­tive Ac­tiv­i­ties (Pre­ven­tion) Act (TADA). Since then many Sikhs have set­tled in var­i­ous parts of the world, par­tic­u­larly United King­dom, United States and Canada. Those who had wit­nessed the mas­sacre of In­dian Army and still sur­vived, are mostly trau­ma­tised and in shock. Ev­ery year, the Sikh com­mu­nity re­mem­bers this India mas­sacre and protest all over the world to re­mind the civ­i­lized in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity that, India is such a coun­try, where rights of mi­nori­ties are not se­cured. India is a Hindu fun­da­men­tal­ist coun­try, where hu­man rights of all mi­nori­ties are con­stantly vi­o­lated and there is no stop­page of that.

But the sad episode was that, those of­fi­cers and men of In­dian Army who par­tic­i­pated in the Op­er­a­tion Blue Star were given gal­lantry awards, hon­ours, dec­o­ra­tion strips and pro­mo­tions by the Sikh Pres­i­dent Zail Singh in a cer­e­mony con­ducted on 10 July 1985.

The de­struc­tion of Sikh’s holy shrine and killings of Sikhs was one as­pect, the de­struc­tion of Sikh cul­ture, their history and their li­braries was the worst part of In­dian state ter­ror­ism. Ac­cord­ing to Chand Joshi, a cor­re­spon­dent of Hin­dus­tan Times, the In­dian Army has “acted in to­tal anger” and shot down all the sus­pects rounded up from the tem­ple com­plex. A well-known Bri­tish jour­nal­ist like Mark Tully and Satish Ja­cob has crit­i­cized In­dian Army for “burn­ing down the Sikh Ref­er­ence Library in Am­rit­sar.” It is said that Ms Gandhi’s Last Bat­tle was aimed at, de­stroy­ing the Sikh cul­ture. In a book en­ti­tled, “In Sikhs of the Pun­jab: Un­heard Voices of the State and Guer­rilla Vi­o­lence” the au­thor, Joyce Pet­ti­grew writes that, the In­dian Army launched the Op­er­a­tion Blue Star to, “sup­press the cul­ture, and po­lit­i­cal will, of a peo­ple”

Op­er­a­tion Blue Star and the sub­se­quent mas­sacre of Sikhs was enough to open the eyes of in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity about the In­dian Democ­racy and Sec­u­lar­ism. But, un­for­tu­nately, no re­ac­tion came from the civ­i­lized in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity and even the hu­man rights or­ga­ni­za­tions. The suc­ces­sive In­dian lead­er­ship too did not learn any les­son from this car­nage, or­dered by Ms Indira Ghandi, the daugh­ter of first In­dian Prime Min­is­ter. Though India is still con­tin­u­ing with its pol­icy of dis­crim­i­nat­ing, hu­mil­i­at­ing and killing of mi­nori­ties in that coun­try, but the worst mas­sacre, In­dian Army com­mit­ted af­ter ‘Op­er­a­tion Blue Star-1984’ was the geno­cide of Kash­miri Mus­lims in the decade of 1990s. In­dian se­cu­rity forces killed over 100,000 in­no­cent Kash­miris, who were just de­mand­ing their right of self-de­ter­mi­na­tion, which was promised to them by the UN. With this record of ac­com­plish­ment of bru­tal­i­ties on mi­nori­ties and Kash­miris, should India still be called as a sec­u­lar state? — The writer is In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions an­a­lyst based in Islamabad.

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