Operation Blue Star 1984 - (with thanks to Muhammad Abd al-Hameed)

Operation Blue Star was an Indian military operation which took place 3--8 June 1984, ordered by Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in order to remove Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale and his armed followers from the Harmandir Sahib in Amritsar, Punjab. Bhindranwale had earlier taken residence in Harmandir Sahib and made it his headquarters in April 1980.

Bhindranwale was accused of amassing weapons in the gurudwara in order to start a major armed uprising. These reasons are contested by most Sikh scholars who claim that the Akal Takhat is a temporal seat and keeping weapons in gurudwaras is well within the precincts of Sikhism. Dr. Harjinder Singh Dilgeer says that Indira Gandhi attacked the Harmandir Sahib complex to present herself as a great hero in order to win forthcoming elections.

The operation had two components: Operation Metal, confined to the Harmandir Sahib complex, and Operation Shop, which raided the Punjabi countryside to capture any suspects. Following it, Operation Woodrose was launched to thoroughly scan the Punjab countryside.

The operation was carried out by Indian Army troops with tanks, artillery, helicopters, armoured vehicles, and chemical weapons. Actual casualty figures given by Kuldip Singh Brar put the number of deaths among the Indian army at 83 and injuries at 220. According to the official estimate, 492 civilians were killed, though some independent claims run as high as 5000.

Posted on Aug 11, 18 | 11:50 am