Operation Bluestar, which is considered to be one of the dark chapters in the history of independent India, in a first, saw a state and its army against its own citizens. The military operation, ordered by then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984, stormed the holiest site of the Sikhs - the Golden Temple - to flush out terrorist religious leader Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his followers from the iconic building in Amritsar. The deadly event, which had its roots to the infamous Khalistani Movement, demanding a separate homeland, Khalistan, for Sikhs, surely led to the assassination of PM Indira Gandhi. Today, on the 35th anniversary of Operation Bluestar, here's everything you need to know about the bitter rivalry between the Sikhs and the Indian National Congress.
1. Bhindranwale had taken refuge at the temple since 1980 and launched the Khalistan movement, leading the Congress matriarch to order the Operation Bluestar. Khalistan movement was a Sikh nationalist movement, which wanted to create an independent state for Sikh people.
2. One of the primary aims of the Operation Bluestar was to remove Bhindranwale and his supporters who had occupied the Akal Takht complex and the Golden Temple in Punjab’s Amritsar. And so through the Operation, then Indira Gandhi wanted to regain control of the temple.
3. The operation was carried out in two different parts – the first one was called Operation Metal, which was restricted to eliminating armed militants from the Golden Temple. Operation Metal was followed by Operation Shop, which was across Punjab to find suspects. The entire operation lasted for 10 days, from June 1 to June 10, 1984.
4. One June 1, the Indian Army attacked Guru Ram Das Langar inside the Temple, where around 8-10 people were killed. By June 3, Punjab was under curfew and military personnel were deployed around the state. All entries and exists to the Golden Temple were cordoned off.
5. A portion of the Temple, Ramgarhia Bungas, was bombed on June 4, and militants were attacked. The government appointed Gurcharan Singh Tohra, former head of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee to negotiate with Bindrawale, which failed.
6. On June 5, BSF and CRPF attacked the south-west parts of the Golden Temple, and on June 6, the army destroyed Akal Takhat with tanks. By June 7 1984, the Indian Army had gained complete control over the Golden Temple.
7. Congress government recieved widespread backlash for attacking the most holy place for Sikhs. After gaining control of the temple, Punjab remained under curfew and all journalists were barred from entering the state.
8. Four months after the attack, on October 31 1984, Indira Gandhi was assassinated by two of her Sikh bodyguards. They fired 33 rounds of bullets on her body.